Keith Gavin battles J'den Cox in the Olympic Team Trials semifinals (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
NORMAN -- New University of Oklahoma head wrestling coach Lou Rosselli officially announced Keith Gavin and Michael Lightner as his assistant coaches on Monday.
"I am excited to have Keith and Mike on board here at Oklahoma," Rosselli said. "They are world-class wrestlers and each has a great work ethic. Their knowledge of the sport and the way they live their lives will help our student-athletes develop on and off the mat."
Gavin joins the Sooners after spending the last two seasons as an assistant coach at Virginia. Gavin helped lead the Cavaliers to the 2015 ACC championship and a 19th-place finish at the 2015 NCAA Championships. Seven UVA wrestlers qualified for the 2015 national tournament, including Nick Sulzer, who earned All-America status at 165 pounds. In 2016, five Cavaliers advanced to NCAAs under Gavin's instruction.
"I've known Coach Rosselli for a while, so I'm very excited to work with him and be on staff with Coach Lightner," Gavin said. "I think we have a really great staff in place and a talented team that is only going to get better. I think we have some work to do, but the sky is the limit for this program."
The Factoryville, Pa., native trained at the Ohio Regional Training Center under Rosselli and was a member of the U.S. National Team for seven years. He took the crown at the U.S. National Championships in both 2013 and 2014 and competed for the U.S. at the 2013 World Championships. Gavin took second place at the 2015 U.S. Open and third at the Yasar Dogu International after finishing in third at the U.S. World Team Trials. In 2012, Gavin competed in the U.S. Olympic Trials, placing third.
"I really grew as an athlete under him (Rosselli) and I learned just about leadership and coaching in general, so when I had the opportunity to come on board and be one of his assistants, I jumped at it," Gavin said. "I believe in Coach Rosselli. I like what he's about, and I think we have a very similar mindset when it comes to the sport of wrestling."
In 2011, Gavin was the Pan-American Championships runner-up and also finished second at the 2010 and 2014 U.S. World Team Trials. A two-time collegiate All-American wrestler at Pitt, Gavin was the 2008 174-pound NCAA Champion (he produced a perfect 27-0 record) and the 2007 NCAA runner-up. He completed his collegiate career with a 120-37 mark.
Gavin, who is a member of the Eastern Wrestling League Hall of Fame and was a two-time EWL Wrestler of the Year, earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Pitt in 2008 and remained there as an assistant coach for one season. He and his wife, Carrie Foster Gavin, are parents to a daughter, Nora.
Lightner, who has served as an assistant and associate head coach at Oklahoma for seven seasons, was retained by Rosselli and will continue in an assistant role. The Sooners have produced two national champs (Cody Brewer and Kendric Maple) and 11 individual conference crowns during Lightner's time on staff.
"I'm excited to stay here at OU because I'm loyal to this program and I love the university," Lightner said. "Lou is an Olympian and Keith is a World Team member, they're both national champions and all of us coaches have international experience. I know both of these guys are hard workers, and they're knowledgeable about wrestling and like to win. It's exciting for me to get to work with both of them and get to learn and gain a new perspective."
A Marlow, Okla., native, Lightner recorded one of the most impressive wrestling careers in OU program history from 1998-2001. He claimed the 141-pound national title in 2001 and was a four-time Big 12 Champion. He was also a four-time All-American, an achievement only 11 other Sooners have accomplished. His 144 career wins rank as the second-most in program history.
After his collegiate wrestling career, Lightner remained at OU as a club coach from 2001-2004 while training for international competition. In 2005, he moved to the Olympic Training Center and was crowned champion both U.S. National and World Team Trials champion, earning a spot on the U.S. World Team.
Lightner and his wife, Lindsey, are parents to daughter Maya.
The Sooners start the 2016-17 season under their new coaching staff on Sunday, Nov. 13 when they head to Albany, N.Y., for the Northeast Duals. The squad's first home dual is slated for Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. against Michigan.