Travis Mercado coaching Julia Salata at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials (Photo/Robbert Wijtman)
Travis Mercado has been hired as the head coach of the new women's wrestling program at Colorado Mesa University.
Colorado Mesa had announced its plan to launch a women's intercollegiate program in early March, just one week after the Colorado High School Athletics Association had approved girls wrestling for pilot seasons. CMU's new women's program -- which joins an existing men's program -- will take to the mat in November 2018, becoming the only women's program in any college in Colorado, and one of only fourteen in the western U.S.
Mercado brings a strong wrestling and coaching resume to his new position, including experience in coaching women's wrestling from the high school to collegiate level.
For the past three years, Mercado has served at King University, where, as associate head coach of women's wrestling, has helped turn that Tennessee-based NCAA Division II school into a perennial power. He coached the team to three first place finishes at the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) National Duals and three first place finishes at Women's Collegiate Wrestling Association (WCWA) National Tournament.
He also trained 10 USA Olympic Trials competitors and nine USA Junior National Team members.
Prior to his time at King, Mercado was a graduate assistant at the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Ky. He coached the Patriots to a fifth-place finish at the NWCA National Duals and had four WCWA All-Americans.
Mercado launched his coaching career at Covina High School in California. In his two seasons there, he coached 40 boys and five girls.
Mercado wrestled for the Cal State-Fullerton club program, Titan Wrestling Club, for five seasons. He earned both his bachelor's and Master's in kinesiology from the school.
"We are excited to announce Coach Mercado as our inaugural head women's wrestling coach. He has a proven and impressive track record with a tremendous ability to recruit and relate to the women's wrestling community," Co-Director of Athletics Kris Mort said in a statement issued by the Colorado Mesa Tuesday.
In that same statement, Travis Mercado echoed those sentiments.
"First, I would like to thank President Tim Foster, Co-Athletic Directors Kris Mort and Bryan Rooks, Dave Jahnke, and the search committee on giving me this opportunity to join Colorado Mesa University athletic department as the first head coach for the women's wrestling team," Mercado said.
"I am looking forward to building a strong foundation for a successful future here at Colorado Mesa," the new coach continued. "We have all the necessary resources to be successful and excel not only at the collegiate level, but also helping these young women attain goals on the international level. Along with success on the mat and in the classroom, I hope to build young women of character who will be role models within the community."
"We can be successful," Mercado told the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. "The location of Colorado Mesa, being able to draw girls from powerhouse states and having them buy into the culture and philosophy. We're going to put our best performance forward and challenge each other."
Colorado Mesa University is a four-year public university located in Grand Junction, Colo. Originally founded as Mesa State in 1925, CMU has an enrollment of approximately 11,000 students. Its 27 sports teams -- the Mavericks -- compete in NCAA Division II; however, its women's wrestlers will be competing in the Women's Collegiate Wrestling Association (WCWA).