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Chris Bono named head wrestling coach at UT-Chattanooga

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. --- Former NCAA Wrestling Champion Chris Bono has been named Head Wrestling Coach at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Athletics Director Rick Hart announced Saturday.

Bono, an assistant for the Mocs last season, held the title of interim head coach after the May 8 departure of former Head Coach Joe Seay.

"This means the world to me," Bono said. "It has been a goal of mine to become a head coach since I got into the coaching profession. I plan on leading the team and representing UTC with integrity. We will work hard and work toward a national championship.

"I am extremely grateful to Rick Hart, the search committee and the University for this opportunity, and I will not let them down."

A member of the 2005-06 staff, Bono helped lead UTC to its 21st Southern Conference title and a 30th-place finish at the NCAA Championships.

Although new to his position as Athletics Director, Hart was heavily involved in the national search for the head coach, and said that Bono was a perfect fit to direct the tradition-rich program.

"We are excited to have Chris Bono as our head coach on a permanent basis," Hart said. "We are appreciative of his leadership during the transition between coaches and between athletics directors. We look forward to Chris continuing the outstanding tradition of UTC wrestling, and we are confident that he and his program will represent the University and the City of Chattanooga with the utmost class and competitive spirit."

Bono joined the UTC staff in 2005 after serving nine years as a wrestling assistant coach at national-power Iowa State. He worked for Head Coach Bobby Douglas and was the Cyclones' head assistant coach for the last five years.

During Bono's final year on the ISU staff, he helped direct the Cyclones to a 16-4 dual match record in 2004-05, a third-place finish in the Big 12 Conference and a sixth-place showing at the 2005 NCAA Championships.

A native of Gilbert, Iowa, Bono holds many coaching and competitive honors. He was named the National Wrestling Coaches Association Assistant Coach of the Year in 2002 for his role in ISU's success that season. The Cyclones compiled a 17-5 dual match record and were NCAA runner-ups with five wrestlers earning All-America status.

Bono, who lettered at Iowa State from 1994-97, ranks fifth on the program's all-time wins list with 130 victories. He won the NCAA 150-pound title as a junior.

A four-time NCAA participant, he placed fifth at the Nationals as a sophomore and second as a senior. As a freshman, he placed eighth at the Big Eight Conference Championships. He wrestled to a Big Eight Conference runner-up finish his sophomore year, won the Big Eight title as a junior and was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler at the inaugural Big 12 Conference Championship in 1997. He registered a 41-11 record as a sophomore, went 37-4 as a junior and was 37-2 his senior season.

Bono's wrestling success did not come to a halt upon his graduation from Iowa State. During the summer of 2004 as a freestyle competitor, Bono defeated Doug Schwab, 5-4, to take third place at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials in Las Vegas, Nevada. In 2003, Bono won the 145.5-pound title at the U.S. Senior Freestyle National Championships in Las Vegas, qualifying for the World Team Trials in Indianapolis, Ind., where he was runner-up at that same weight. He was a U.S. World Cup team member, earning the gold medal at the 2003 World Cup Wrestling Championships in Boise, Idaho, and was a member of the national team at the 2003 Titan Games in San Jose, Calif.

Bono's freestyle accomplishments in 2002 led to a U.S. Senior Freestyle No. 1 national ranking at 145.5 pounds and a spot on the U.S. World Team. He began the year with a first-place showing at the Dave Schultz Memorial in Colorado Springs, Colo., followed by a fourth-place finish at the Kiev Grand Prix in Kiev, Ukraine. He won a bronze medal at the Pan American Championships in Caracara, Venezuela, and placed third at the U.S. Freestyle National Championships in Las Vegas, earning a berth to the World Team Trials.

At the 2002 World Team Trials, Bono swept through the mini-tournament beating Reggie Wright (Gator WC) of Colorado Springs, Colo., 3-1 and Schwab (Hawkeye WC) of Iowa City, Iowa, 3-2 to advance to the finals. In the 145.5-pound championship, Bono defeated Jamill Kelly (Gator WC) of Stillwater, Okla., 3-1 and 3-0, earning his second consecutive World Team Trials title.

In a special wrestle-off for the 145.5-pound spot on the 2002 U.S. World Team, Bono defeated Bill Zadick (Hawkeye WC) of Iowa City, Iowa, two matches to one, 2-3, 3-1, 3-2 OT, to earn his second consecutive trip to the World Championships. The U.S. World Team, however, did not compete at the World Championships in Tehran, Iran.

Bono also captured top honors at the 2004 NYAC Invitational with a victory in the finals over 2004 NCAA champion Jesse Jantzen, formerly of Harvard, and also earned a 66 kilogram title at the 20th annual Sunkist International Open with a win in the finals over former 2003 NCAA 149-pound champion and current Arizona State assistant coach Eric Larkin.

Bono competed at the 2005 World Championships in September in Budapest, Hungary. At the 2005 World Team Trials, Bono, the number one seed, captured the title at 66 kilograms by defeating Jared Lawrence two matches to none.

In May of 2006, Bono beat Japan's Kohei Fujimoto (1-0, 2-0), Uzbekistan's Muradollo Ablokulov (2-4, 1-0, 2-0) and Russia's Jirair Oganesyan (1-1, 5-4) at the Independence Cup Grand Prix in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. He finished with the silver medal after losing 0-1, 2-1, 1-1 to Russia's Andrey Sementsov on a takedown with 14 seconds left in the final period. Sementsov is the reigning Junior European champion.

Bono earned his bachelor's degree in Exercise and Sports Science from Iowa State in 1997. He and his wife, Niki, have two daughters, Josie and Ellie.

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