Ashland University has named Josh Hutchens as its head wrestling coach. Hutchens replaces Tim Dernlan, who has left college coaching to start a career as a high school administrator.
Hutchens comes to AU from Colorado School of Mines. He's been the head coach of that program since 2009. This will be the third head coaching job Hutchens has held. He was the head coach at James Madison from 2004-07.
"I think we're extremely fortunate to find a coach of his caliber who has agreed to lead our program at this particular time," said AU director of athletics Bill Goldring. "He has tremendous experience and knowledge and he's excited to be the next wrestling coach of the Eagles. I think he'll continue to take us in a positive direction."
The new AU head coach has several things in common with his predecessor. Like Dernlan, Hutchens is a Purdue graduate. He was a roommate of Dernlan's during his time at Purdue.
Hutchens becomes the ninth head coach in the program's history. AU has had varsity wrestling since the 1961-62 season. AU was 15th at nationals last season and returns a pair of All-Americans – Joe Brandt (Versailles, Ohio) and Michael Labry (Twinsburg, Ohio) - in 2013-14.
"I've seen them wrestle at nationals every year," remarked Hutchens, when asked about the Eagles. "I know Tim very well and I've talked to Tim a lot, just talking about training and things like that. I know the kids who got to nationals and some other starters. I've started to study where kids are from and what they did in high school. I think I have a pretty good sense of the roster."
As a head coach, Hutchens has coached five NCAA national qualifiers and one All-American. He has coached 17 National Wrestling Coaches of America All-Americans and his teams have placed in the top 15 of the NWCA All-Academic Team standings four times. One of his wrestlers received the NCAA Elite 88 Award, which is presented each year to the participating student-athlete at nationals with the highest grade point average.
For Hutchens, coming to Ashland is a return to his wrestling roots.
"I'm from the Midwest," reminded the new AU head coach. "I'm excited about the caliber of wrestling in Ohio and having the chance to compete nationally. Coming to campus and meeting the athletic director, the president and the other coaches, I saw that I had the same philosophy as everyone else. It's a philosophy that puts the individual first."
In addition to his two head coaching stints, Hutchens served as an assistant coach at Colorado School of Mines (2007-09/2002-03) and at James Madison (2003-04). Hutchens also spent one year (2001-02) as a volunteer assistant coach at his alma mater.
While at James Madison, Hutchens was the youngest Division I head coach in the nation. James Madison eliminated its wrestling program and Hutchens moved west to Colorado School of Mines. At each stop of his coaching career, Hutchens has worked at schools with high expectations academically. His teams at Colorado School of Mines have consistently ranked among the nation's top academic programs. That's a philosophy he expects to continue at AU.
"There are a group of people who think you can't win without sacrificing integrity," said Hutchens. "There are people who think you can't do it without sacrificing the students' welfare. I want to win, but I want to win the right way. I'm a Purdue graduate and a big John Wooden fan. I think you build someone up and they can accomplish anything."
As a wrestler, Hutchens was an NCAA Division I national qualifier at Purdue. He finished third at the Big Ten championships. In high school, Hutchens was a two-time Indiana state wrestling champion. He was a 2009 inductee into the Indiana State High School Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
Hutchens earned his bachelor's degree in small business management from Purdue. He earned his master's degree in athletic administration from James Madison.