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ODU adds Thomas, Mecate to coaching staff

NORFOLK, Va. -- Old Dominion wrestling head coach Steve Martin announced the additions of Daryl Thomas as assistant coach and Chris Mecate as volunteer assistant coach this week. Thomas, a former standout at Illinois, comes to Norfolk after serving as the head coach at Lincoln College in Illinois, while former two-time All-American Mecate will stick around his alma mater after exhausting his eligibility in 2016.

Daryl Thomas
"We are very excited to add Daryl Thomas and Chris Mecate to our coaching staff," head coach Steve Martin said. "They are both very enthusiastic and will provide a big spark to our coaching staff. They are dedicated to bettering our student-athletes and helping them achieve their goals academically and in pursuit of becoming All-Americans and national champions."

Thomas comes to ODU after serving as the head coach at Lincoln College, an NJCAA School transitioning to NAIA, during the 2016-17 season. His team finished fourth in the nation at NJCAA Nationals, garnering five All-Americans. Lincoln also won a District title and Thomas was named District Coach of the Year. Off the mat, Thomas' squad posted a 3.06 team GPA.

Before his stint at Lincoln, Thomas was the volunteer assistant at Northern Illinois University from 2014-2016. He was instrumental in coaching five NCAA National Tournament qualifiers in the 2015 and 2016 seasons including Shawn Scott, who reached the round of 12 at 197. Thomas also helped coach freshman Austin Eicher (133) to the 2016 MAC Championship, the team's first since 2011. In the 2015-2016 season, Thomas helped guide Husky 141-pounder Steve Bleise to NIU's first Midlands Tournament finalist since 2006.

Prior to that, Thomas was an assistant at Edwardsville High School, where he helped the Tigers advance four wrestlers to the Illinois state tournament. In addition, EHS also won the team title at the Granite City Regional and finished the regular season with a perfect 28-0 record and a Southwestern Conference title.

At Illinois, Thomas was a two-time placewinner at the Big Ten Championships - placing sixth in 2012 and 2013 - and also advanced to the NCAA Championships as a senior. In his career, Thomas placed at four open tournaments, while also advancing to the placing rounds at the 2012 Midlands Championships and the 2009 Las Vegas Invitational. Thomas was ranked as high as seventh by WIN Magazine as a senior, while finishing third at the 2012 ASICS USA Wrestling University Nationals to earn Freestyle All-American honors.

Thomas earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Illinois in Communications in the spring of 2013.

"I am extremely excited to join the staff here at Old Dominion," Thomas said. "I would like to thank Lincoln College and Dave Klemm for the opportunity I had there. I would also like to thank Steve Martin, Mike Dixon and Athletic Director Dr. Wood Selig for the opportunity here at ODU. I look forward to continuing to help raise the bar here at Old Dominion as the student-athletes chase their goals of All-American and National Championship honors."

Former Old Dominion wrestling phenom Chris Mecate will also join the program once again as a volunteer assistant coach. A 2016 graduate of ODU with a bachelor's degree in communications, Mecate became the school's first-ever back-to-back NCAA DI All-American in 2016, capturing fifth place as a senior and sixth place as a junior at the NCAAs at 141 lbs.

Tied for eighth on the program's all-time wins list with 115, Mecate's illustrious career also included two conference titles, including one MAC crown and one CAA championship, two top-eight finishes at the Midlands and two top-eight finishes at the Southern Scuffle. At the conclusion of his senior season in the spring of 2016, Mecate was named the ODU Alumni Association Male Athlete of the Year.

Excelling in the classroom, Mecate was a four-time NWCA All-Academic Team honoree as well as a Dean's List student multiple semesters throughout his undergraduate academic career.

A native of Highland, California, Mecate spent the 2016-17 athletic season serving as an assistant coach at the Slaughterhouse youth wrestling club in Smithfield, Virginia. He was also busy training and fighting in amateur mixed martial arts, for which he currently holds a record of 1-0.

"It's an honor to be brought on staff at my alma mater and help future Monarchs work towards achieving their goals," Mecate said. "I look forward to watching the development of our young men on and off the mat."

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