Rulon Gardner, U.S. Olympic gold medal-winning wrestler at the 2000 Sydney Games, has been hired as head coach of the mat program at Herriman High School in Utah.
Gardner replaces a paraprofessional instructor/coach who wanted to concentrate his efforts in the classroom.
Rulon GardnerIn talking about hiring Gardner, Brad Tingey, director of athletics at Herriman, told KSL-TV Friday. "We feel like it's a good fit for us," "We think he'll be able to elevate our program and get us to higher places."
One hope is that Gardner can generate greater interest in wrestling at Herriman.
In the past, Herriman has had a roster of 40-50 wrestlers, but had 36 athletes last year. Tingey considers the school's wrestling team to be among the top 10 in Utah, and, with the right coaching, could rank even higher.
"We think our wrestling program is in a really good position now, and we think Rulon can be the catalyst … to elevate it into one of the elite wrestling programs in the state," Tingey said.
Gardner, 46, is a two-time Olympic medalist in Greco-Roman wrestling. At the 2000 Sydney Games, the Wyoming native scored one of the biggest upsets in Olympic wrestling history by upsetting three-time Olympic gold medalist Alexander Karelin of Russia. Four years later, Gardner earned a bronze medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
In addition to his impressive Olympic hardware, Gardner also owns the distinction of receiving the 2000 AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) Sullivan Award for the outstanding amateur athlete in the nation. Only four U.S. wrestlers have received this honor, including Kyle Snyder, Ohio State's gold-medal-winning heavyweight, earlier this year.
Herriman High School is a four-year public high school in Herriman, Utah. The school, which serves three communities, has a total enrollment of 2,900 students.