The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

May 19, 2014

WVU selects new wrestling coach

Henson has coached more than 20 All-Americans and five NCAA national champs

MORGANTOWN — Sammie Henson, who has excelled as a wrestler and as a coach, has been named West Virginia University’s eighth head wrestling coach, WVU athletic director Oliver Luck announced today.

“We are excited to have Sammie Henson join the Mountaineer family as our new head wrestling coach,” said Luck. “Sammie has experienced much success as a wrestler and a coach, and he knows what it takes to win. He brings a lot of excitement, energy and enthusiasm, and understands the work ethic that all Mountaineers share.”

Henson replaces Craig Turnbull, who was fired in March after 36 seasons with the Mountaineers.

The new coach brings with him 17 years of coaching experience and has coached more than 20 All-Americans and five NCAA national champions. In those 17 years, Henson has never had a season without an All-American and has raised the level of success in each of those years.

A native of St. Charles, Mo., Henson comes to WVU from the University of Missouri, where he spent the last two seasons as head assistant coach. In just two seasons, he assisted in producing the No. 2-ranked recruiting class in the nation in 2013 in addition to leading the Tigers to two consecutive conference titles and seven All-America finishes, including one national champion this past season.

This is a great fit for me and my family,” said Henson. “I look forward to changing the culture to making West Virginia wrestling among the nation’s best.”

Prior to Missouri, Henson was the assistant head coach at Oklahoma from 2009-11. While there, he helped secure the No. 2 recruiting class in the country, coached seven wrestlers to All-America status at the NCAA Championships and helped the program become the top academic squad in the Big 12 during his tenure. Before Henson arrived at Oklahoma, the Sooners hadn’t had an All-American in two years.

Prior to his stint with Oklahoma, Henson served as the head assistant at Cal Poly (2007-09), volunteer assistant at Nebraska (2006-07), along with stops as an assistant at Army (2002-03) and Penn State (2000-02).

Along with collegiate coaching, Henson is also the current head coach for the Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club, which has more current world and Olympic wrestlers than any other wrestling club in the United States. Out of the seven freestyle wrestlers who represented Team USA at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, three came from the Sunkist Kids.

Henson was one of the most celebrated wrestlers in the history of the United States, as one of just a few wrestlers in USA history to earn three world medals. In 1998, he became a world champion for Team USA at the World Wrestling Championships, in Tehran, Iran, which eventually led to him winning the John Smith Award for USA Wrestler of the Year. He earned a silver medal at the 2000 Olympic Games at 55 kg (121 lbs.) in Sydney, Australia, and won the bronze medal at the 2006 World Wrestling Championships at 35 years of age.

Henson started his collegiate wrestling career at Missouri, where he was a Big Eight Champion and All-American for Missouri in 1991. He then transferred to Clemson, where he became a two-time NCAA Champion, finishing his career with a 71-0 record. He was named as Clemson's Male Athlete of the Year in 1994 and was inducted into the Clemson Athletics Hall of Fame in 2000.

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