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College Update for May 31: Coaching hires at Air Force and Princeton; Collegians at the World Team Trials

By Jason Bryant

The past two days have seen two Division I programs fill vacancies in their respective head coaching positions. In filling the two positions, no other programs lost head coaches, something that didn't happen with the hirings of Tom Brands, Tom Ryan and Tom Shifflet to name a few.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Air Force Academy named U.S. Naval Academy assistant Joel Sharratt its new head coach after Wayne Baughman announced his retirement at the end of the season.

Sharratt comes from Navy after six years and vast experience recruiting and coaching wrestlers in the service academy atmosphere.

A three-time All-American at Iowa, Sharratt won the NCAA championship in 1994 at 190 pounds and placing second in 1993 and 1995, also at 190 pounds.

Also adding to Sharratt's resume were his duties as a tenured professor at Navy, teaching classes in combat sports - something that goes in line with every service academy.

Sharratt becomes the latest Iowa alum to take the reigns of a Division I coaching position.

Currently, there are 13 former Hawkeyes as Division I head coaches:

Joel Sharratt (Air Force), Greg Randall (Boise State), Barry Davis (Wisconsin), Tom Brands (Iowa), Lennie Zalesky (UC Davis), Jim Zalesky (Oregon State), Duane Goldman (Indiana), Steve Martin (Old Dominion), Tom Ryan (Ohio State), Kevin Dresser (Virginia Tech), Tim Cysewski (Northwestern), Mark Johnson (Illinois) and Brad Penrith (Northern Iowa).

Brands, Dresser, Jim Zalesky, Ryan and Sharratt are five Iowa graduates that have taken head coaching jobs this season alone.

Along with Sharratt at Air Force, Princeton announced the hiring of Lehigh assistant Chris Ayres as its new head coach.

With six Ivy League schools fielding wrestling programs as a part of the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association, Cornell, Penn Columbia, and Harvard have made the biggest strides recently. The hiring of Ayres should put Princeton in that grouping in a few seasons.

Ayres, considered one of the top recruiting assistant coaches in the nation, was an All-American at Lehigh in 1999, placing sixth at 157 pounds. Ayres came to Lehigh as a walk-on and eventually became an EIWA champion and NCAA All-American.

This leaves the current Division I openings at Portland State, East Stroudsburg and UNC Greensboro.

Expect to add Binghamton to the list as Virginia Tech is expected to name Tony Robie associate head coach in the coming days. Robie, who was named the coach of the revived program at Binghamton after the program was cut, then re-instated, previously served as an assistant at Michigan before arriving in Binghamton.

Trials notes
Several collegians fared well at the U.S. World Team Trials at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa this past weekend. Most notably was Iowa State's Trent Paulson, who beat six-time World and Olympic team member Joe Williams. Current Cyclones Nick Gallick, Travis Paulson and Mitch Mueller also competed.

Graduate Grant Nakamura, who lost his entire senior season to an elbow injury, was also in the mix. Former Cyclone national champion Aaron Holker also gave the Tyson Events Center an Ames feel.

Only one wrestler currently attending a U.S. college full-time made the U.S. World Team in either style - Harry Lester, who's attending Northern Michigan University as a part of the U.S. Olympic Education Center in Marquette.

Lester is also a former Cyclone, but Northern Michigan doesn't participate in NCAA level competition and serves as a training center for athletes to attend college and train in their specific sport (there are several at NMU).

Central Michigan's Luke Smith, who competed in the 2004 Olympic Trials in Greco-Roman, switched over to freestyle in 2006 and finished fourth, beating Nakamura, Penn State's Mark McKnight, and former NCAA runner-up Luke Eustice, an Iowa grad, before falling to U.S. Nationals runner-up Matt Azevedo, an assistant coach at Cal Poly.

Smith's Chippewa teammate Bubba Gritter wrestled at heavyweight.

Michigan State's Franklin Gomez, a Junior National freestyle champion from Brandon H.S., in Florida and a Puerto Rican citizen also competed at 121. Teammate Andy Simmons was in at 145.5.

Missouri's Matt Pell competed at 74kg and teammate Max Askren at 96kg. Also at 96kg were Mike Tamillow of Northwestern and Phil Davis, an NCAA runner-up at 197 pounds, of Penn State.

And of course, NCAA champion Cole Konrad of Minnesota was in the mix at heavyweight along with Trials runner-up Steve Mocco of Oklahoma State and four-time Division II champion Les Sigman of Nebraska-Omaha.

Greco saw fewer current college wrestlers competing, but Oklahoma's Sam Hazewinkel was the runner-up at 121.

Brothers Nick and Nate Gallick, Bill and Mike Zadick and Trent and Travis Paulson wrestled freestyle and joined Aaron and Keith Sieracki and Brandon and Justin Ruiz in Greco-Roman.
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