STILLWATER — Looking at the bench for the Oklahoma State University wrestling team reads like a pantheon of wrestling greats.
It all starts with head man John Smith, a two-time gold medalist and two-time Olympic coach, and head assistant coach Eric Guerrero, who was a 2004 Olympian. Assistant coach Zack Esposito may not have Olympian as a title, but he does have his name in the NCAA record books for a national title in 2005 and has the distinction of being a starter on four OSU NCAA championship-winning teams.
The volunteer coaches are equally as impressive — with Olympic gold medalist Kenny Monday and recent bronze medalist Coleman Scott joining the staff.
There is a wealth of experience and knowledge at the disposal of the Cowboy wrestlers. And this week, that will come in handy with the Division I Wrestling Championships in Des Moines, Iowa.
“The coaching staff means everything. It’s a big role in why I came here,” said OSU senior Jordan Oliver, a three-time All-American and native of Pennsylvania. “All of them have the same thing in common, is that they have wanted to compete at the international level and have been successful at the international level. That’s my ultimate goal, and I thought, why go any other place than here when those guys have been so successful and really know what it takes to get to that level. Why not come here and train under one of the greatest American wrestlers that ever lived?”
It’s that history and tradition on staff that continues to bring elite student-athletes to wrestle in Gallagher-Iba Arena. And has Oklahoma State one of a short list of favorites to the win the NCAA team title.
The addition of Scott has extra meaning for Oliver, who grew up knowing the Waynesburg, Pa., native. Scott invited Oliver to be his training partner in the London Olympic Games and has continued working with the OSU senior in the confines of Gallagher-Iba.