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California's Poway promotes Meyers to head coach

John Meyers (left) with longtime Poway wrestling coach Wayne Branstetter (Photo/Rollin Swan)

John Meyers, assistant wrestling coach at Poway High School since 2002, has been named head coach of the storied San Diego area prep program ranked No. 10 in the nation by InterMat.

Meyers, 49, is replacing longtime coach Wayne Branstetter, who retired at the end of the California state championship in March after a 45-year coaching career, where he spent the last four decades at Poway.

Meyers came to Poway 16 years ago to become an assistant coach of the Titans, and for a full-time position as an English teacher.

Meyers made his way to sunny southern California by way of Connecticut -- where he was a four-time state champ at Hall High School in West Hartford -- and the University of Minnesota, where he was on the roster for legendary Gophers head coach J Robinson at 134 pounds, often serving as training partner to three-time NCAA All-American David Zuniga.

(Meyers' greatest on-the mat success was not in college, but in freestyle and Greco-Roman competition, where he earned several national championships including a Cadet National Freestyle title and a silver medal at the Cadet Pan American Games in Cali, Colombia. Later, he would compete for the U.S. University World team and travel to China, Mongolia and Finland.)

"Coach Robinson did wrestling camps in San Diego every year and he asked me to come out one year," Meyers told the San Diego Union Tribune. "I'd never been to San Diego before."

Meyers worked at one of J Rob's wrestling camps while coaching at Southern Connecticut University and vowed someday to return.

In 1998, Meyers packed up his Honda and headed west, launching his prep coaching career at the two schools J Robinson had recommended: first at Valhalla High, then joining the staff at Poway after his future boss, Wayne Branstetter, urged him to apply for opening as an assistant. That was a decade-and-a-half ago.

The former Golden Gopher never had designs on replacing Branstetter.

"I was never pressuring Wayne to retire," Meyers told the Union Tribune. "I would have been happy if he said he wanted to stay a few more years.

"I just liked being at Poway. It was so easy to work for Wayne because he always coached the program with my input. I don't fish. I don't have any hobbies. Wrestling is it."

When asked what the future holds for one of the nation's top prep programs with a new coach in charge, Meyers basically says, "more of the same."

"I want to continue what Wayne started," Meyers said. "I don't see any need to put my fingerprint on this program. It doesn't need that."

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