Despite how unkind the financial landscape has been to wrestling programs in the past couple of years, a few head coaches still have their teams achieving higher season-to-season results. What had been a long time coming was finally realized in College Park, MD this past March. After leading the Hokies to four consecutive ACC Regular Season titles without a tournament victory to boast of, Kevin Dresser’s Virginia Tech squad finally claimed their first ACC championship, and first of any conference title since taking the Colonial in 1998.
The team win qualified the program’s most-ever wrestlers to the NCAA Championships, were the Hokies racked up the school’s first-ever top ten national finish to cap an already historic year. When Dresser was handed the reins seven years ago, Virginia Tech was coming off a 1-16 campaign. Now they lay every claim to the ACC thrown thanks in large part to the conference’s 2013 Coach of the Year.
The ACC crown didn’t come without its share of drama, however. Heading into the final round, the Hokies found themselves ten points back of their long-standing intrastate rival Virginia. Behind four head-to-head championship bouts, Virginia Tech would make their comeback complete. Despite the heartbreaking loss, Steve Garland’s Virginia team still posted a season to be remembered in Charlottesville. Nine wrestlers earned spots on the NCAA Championships, the most in school history, and the NWCA named twice as many Cavaliers to its All-Academic team than from any other university. Since taking over in 2006, Garland has led Virginia to four runners up finishes in the conference tournament and the school’s first ACC championship since 1977 in 2010.
Other coaches who are quickly making big impressions at programs without a lot of wrestling history:
Joe Boardwine (3 Years) – Campbell (2013 Record: 9-8)
Boardwine’s Camels have made quite the transition to the SoCon, taking second place in just their second conference championship to cap off their first winning season in years.
Ryan Ludwig (2 Years) – Northern Illinois (2013 Record: 10-8)
In just his second season at the helm, Ludwig brought a winning season to a Northern Illinois program hungry for one. The Huskies have also tallied more points in the MAC Championship in each of his two seasons than in the year before.
Glen Lanham (1 Year) – Duke (2013 Record: 9-10)
Virginia and Virginia Tech aren’t the only wrestling squads turning heads. In his first year, Lanham led the Blue Devils to their most wins since 2009 and sent multiple wrestlers to the NCAA Championships, also a first since 2009.