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Averett hires Owen as its first wrestling coach

Tommy Owen served as the head assistant coach at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville

Tommy Owen has been named head wrestling coach of the brand-new Cougar men's wrestling program at Averett University, the Virginia school announced Friday.

Averett had announced the addition of wrestling -- along with men's lacrosse, and women's lacrosse -- back in May, thanks to a generous $500,000 gift from an unnamed donor. All three sports will begin competing during the 2017-18 school year as the school transitions to NCAA Division III competition.

Owen will be transferring from one set of Cougars to another. For the past two seasons, Owen has served as the head assistant coach of the Cougar wrestling program at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, an NCAA Division I school located just outside St. Louis. During his time at SIU-E, Owen coached NCAA national qualifiers and two conference champions in each of the past two years. His teams have also been successful in the classroom, earning a top-14 Division I National Wrestling Coaches Association All-Academic Team ranking both years.

Before joining SIU-E's coaching staff, Owen coached at Division I George Mason University near Washington, D.C. from 2011-14 while also working as the regional training center coach for the Patriot Elite Wrestling Club. Owen's collegiate coaching experience also included a stint from 2007-2008 as an assistant at Division I Boise State University, his alma mater.

Owen has also coached a number of club and high school teams, including a position as the head freestyle wrestling coach for Virginia USA Wrestling. Since 2013, Owen also served as a USA Wrestling national team volunteer coach, coaching a silver medalist and a bronze medalist at the 2014 University World Championships in Hungary.

As a collegiate wrestler, Owen competed for Boise State in 2006-07. He began his wrestling career at Division I University of Minnesota, where he was a two-time NCAA national qualifier and a member of the 2002 national championship team and 2003 national runner-up, and Big Ten conference team titlewinners both years.

In high school, Owen was a three-time Washington state champion and a four-time finalist. He was the 2001 National High School Coaches Association national champion, a 1998 Cadet National Champion and a member of the 2000 FILA Junior World Team.

"Tommy has a tremendous amount of coaching experience at many levels in the wrestling community," said Averett University Director of Athletics Meg Stevens. "His knowledge and passion will be a great asset as we begin our first men's wrestling program at Averett."

"I would like to thank Averett President Dr. Tiffany Franks and Director of Athletics Meg Stevens for this amazing opportunity," Owen said. "I couldn't be more humbled and excited to be chosen as the inaugural head coach at Averett. Having spent time as a college coach in Virginia, and with my wife being born and raised in the state, I feel this is the perfect opportunity for me to start a program at Averett and continue to build and strengthen wrestling in the state of Virginia and as a whole."

"I also want to thank Mike Moyer and the NWCA along with all the organizations helping to build wrestling in all styles -- folkstyle, freestyle and Greco-Roman," Owen added. "Without their tireless effort and commitment to the sport, I would not have the opportunities that lie ahead of me."

Located in the city of Danville in south-central Virginia near the North Carolina border, Averett University describes itself as a four-year, fully accredited, private, co-educational college with a traditional residential campus. Originally founded as a women's college in 1859, the school became co-ed in 1969, and took on its present name in 2001.

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