Manheim, Pennsylvania – The National Wrestling Coaches Association has announced its annual scholastic coaching award winners for 2017-18.
Recently retired Altus (Oklahoma) High School head coach Nick Williams has been named the NWCA Scholastic Coach of the Year while and longtime St. Edward (Ohio) High School assistant John Heffernan has been named the NWCA Scholastic Assistant Coach of the Year.
Williams and Heffernan were chosen from the eight section winners, which come from each state's respective coaches association.
Williams spent 20 years as a high school wrestling coach, the last 15 at Altus, which finished sixth at the Oklahoma 5A state wrestling championships and fourth in the state's dual meet championships. While winning a state championship isn't a prerequisite to win such an award, Williams led his team, coaching from a wheelchair after being diagnosed with ALS in March of 2017. The community responded by dedicating the Nick Williams Wrestling Center within Altus Public Schools in May of 2017.
"So much of being a great coach is being there for your student-athletes," said NWCA Executive Director Mike Moyer. "In this case, we didn't just have a coach battling a debilitating affliction, but we had wrestlers and a community battling with him. It's a true testament to what this coach means to the school and the community at large."
Williams was also presented the Gallagher Award by Oklahoma State University and has continued to fight for the sport of wrestling. He's also maintained his place in supporting the Oklahoma Wrestling Coaches Association, serving as its vice president.
Two Altus alums competed at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships this past season in Cleveland - Northern Colorado's Keilan Torres and 133-pound All-American Montorie Bridges of Wyoming.
St. Edward is one of the most iconic wrestling programs in the nation. Dominance was instilled by former coach Howard Ferguson and carried on to current coach Greg Urbas, who's had John Heffernan as his assistant for the past 27 years.
Heffernan's reputation as one of the best technical coaches in the country is evidenced by the long line of state champions, national champions and All-Americans coming out of the Lakewood, Ohio school. St. Edward also has one of the nation's most unique streaks, as an alum has placed at the NCAA Division I Championships every year since 1991. That streak was extended by Michigan's Dom Abounader this season. Across all NCAA Divisions, St. Edward wrestlers have earned All-American honors every year since 1982, including Heffernan, who was a two-time All-American at Iowa.
All told, he's helped coach St. Edward to 21 state championships, 75 individual state champions and 16 different wrestlers to 40 All-American medals at the NCAA championships, including national champions Dean Heil of Oklahoma State and Ryan Bertin of Michigan.
"Let's just look at that run of All-Americans at the Division I level and the foundations they've been taught by coach Heffernan," said Moyer. "You really can't put into words his level of success. He could probably win this award every year."
Other NWCA Section Coach of the Year Award winners were: Section 1: Carmine Colace (Franklin, Mass.), Section 2: Brian Shaffer (Battlefield, Va.), Section 3: Jake Stewart (Bamberg-Ehrhardt, S.C.), Section 4: Tom Hogan (Don Bosco, Iowa), Section 5: Doug Vander Linden (Burlington, Kan.), Section 7: Mike Ripplinger (Box Elder, Utah) and Jeff Welsing (Yuma, Ariz.), Section 8: Matt Jorgensen (Deer Park, Wash.).
Winners along with Heffernan for the NWCA Section Assistant Coach of the Year were: Section 1: Tony Napolitano (Portland, Maine), Section 3: Pat Holcomb (North Hall, Ga.), Section 4: Tim Coolidge (Eaton Rapids, Mich.), Section 5: Jay Meneely (Millard South, Neb.), Section 6: James Garcia (Brighton, Colo.), Section 7: Chris Hardy (Box Elder, Utah) and Davy Miller (Liberty, Ariz.), Section 8: Todd Slater (East Valley, Wash.).
State Head Coaches of the Year
|Section 1||Carmine Colace||Franklin||MA|
|Section 1||John Furgeson||Damascus||MD|
|Section 1||Scott Preble||Nokomis||ME|
|Section 1||Dan Smith||Watchung Hills Regional||NJ|
|Section 1||Darren C. Goldstein||Rocky Point||NY|
|Section 1||Brian Coon||Mount Anthony Union||VT|
|Section 2||Michael Ransaw||Benjamin Russell||AL|
|Section 2||John Roth||Walton Verona||KY|
|Section 2||Mark Marinelli||Olentangy Liberty||OH|
|Section 2||Casey Taylor||Reynolds||PA|
|Section 2||Brian Shaffer||Battlefield||VA|
|Section 2||Shaun Smith||Parkersburg South||WV|
|Section 3||Danny Walker||Lake Gibson||FL|
|Section 3||Joey Di Nino||Ola||GA|
|Section 3||Ben Watson||Mooresville||NC|
|Section 3||Jake Stewart||Bamberg-Ehrhardt||SC|
|Section 3||Jimmy Miller||Science Hill||TN|
|Section 4||Tom Hogan||Don Bosco||IA|
|Section 4||Mark Hahn||Glenbard North||IL|
|Section 4||Chris Cooper||Columbus East||IN|
|Section 4||Jerry LaJoie||Gaylor||MI|
|Section 5||Doug Vander Linden||Burlington||KS|
|Section 5||Jamie Heidt||Kasson-Mantorville||MN|
|Section 5||Charlie Sherertz||Whitfield||MO|
|Section 5||Dustin Nagel||Hillsboro Central Valley||ND|
|Section 5||Shane Allison||Valentine||NE|
|Section 5||Jeremy Swenson||Canton||SD|
|Section 6||Cole Alison||Grand Junction||CO|
|Section 6||Nick Williams||Altus||OK|
|Section 6||Vinnie Lowe||Katy||TX|
|Section 7||Jeff Welsing||Yuma||AZ|
|Section 7||Greg Varela||Gilroy||CA|
|Section 7||Mike Ripplinger||Box Elder||UT|
|Section 7||Thad Trukillo||Cheyenne East||WY|
|Section 8||Troy Thain||Craig||AK|
|Section 8||Kevin Corbett||Leilehua||HI|
|Section 8||Kevin Glider||Sugar Salem||ID|
|Section 8||Guy Melby||Sidney||MT|
|Section 8||Jake Huffman||Crook County||OR|
|Section 8||Matt Jorgensen||Deer Park||WA|
State Assistant Coaches of the Year
|Section 1||Joe Killo||Mt Hebron||MD|
|Section 1||Tony Napolitano||Portland||ME|
|Section 1||Bill Romano||Mt. Olive||NJ|
|Section 1||Eric Mullen||Canandaigua Academy||NY|
|Section 1||Matt Thurston||Spaulding||VT|
|Section 2||Riley Pike||Thompson||AL|
|Section 2||Jason Moore||Walton Verona||KY|
|Section 2||John Hefferman||St. Edward||OH|
|Section 2||Michael Hills||Reynolds||PA|
|Section 2||Ian Squires||St. Christopher's||VA|
|Section 2||John Dempsey||Huntington||WV|
|Section 3||Jake Campbell||Tampa Prep||FL|
|Section 3||Pat Holcolmb||North Hall||GA|
|Section 3||Richard Hoffman||St. Stephen's||NC|
|Section 3||John Hiers||Bamberg-Ehrhardt||SC|
|Section 3||Justin Anglin||Bradley Central||TN|
|Section 4||Carl Harvey||Rochelle Township||IL|
|Section 4||Mike Poppe||Garrett||IN|
|Section 4||Tim Coolidge||Eaton Rapids||MI|
|Section 5||JD Hand||Augusta||KS|
|Section 5||Al Flynn||Scott West||MN|
|Section 5||Buddy Smith||Whitfield||MO|
|Section 5||Nick Timm||Kenmare Bowbells||ND|
|Section 5||Jay Meneely||Millard South||NE|
|Section 5||Jeremy Ask||Canton||SD|
|Section 6||James Garcia||Brighton||CO|
|Section 6||Will Delk||Piedmont||OK|
|Section 6||Huey Huynh||Southlake Carroll||TX|
|Section 7||Davy Miller||Liberty||AZ|
|Section 7||Gilroy Assistant Coaches||Gilroy||CA|
|Section 7||Chris Hardy||Box Elder||UT|
|Section 8||Randy Hanson||South Anchorage||AK|
|Section 8||Corey Taniguchi||Leilehua||HI|
|Section 8||Ty Graves||Sidney||MT|
|Section 8||Rick Jordan||Dallas||OR|
|Section 8||Todd Slater||East Valley||WA|