Coach Vaughan Hitchcock (front row, middle) with 11 Cal Poly wrestlers
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- Vaughan Hitchcock, who coached the Cal Poly wrestling program to eight NCAA Division II national championships in the late 1960s and early 1970s during a 23-year coaching career with the Mustangs, died Sunday in San Luis Obispo, Calif.
Hitchcock was 84.
Hitchcock compiled a 355-112-4 record from 1962 through 1985 at Cal Poly, including a streak of over 150 consecutive victories against California opponents.
"Hitch was obviously an outstanding coach and was like a father to most of us during our wrestling days," said Lennis Cowell, who succeeded Hitchcock as head coach at Cal Poly. "He definitely had a tremendous influence on our lives. He will long be remembered."
"Great memories with Coach and Cal Poly," added Larry Morgan, an NCAA Division II national champion in 1973 and three-time Division I qualifier, finishing fifth in 1972 for All-American honors. "He was a very positive influence on many young athletes."
"I am sad, he was a giant of a man," said Ken Bos, who placed first and third in the NCAA Division II National Championships and was a two-time Division I qualifier, placing fourth in 1969. "He represented California and West Coast wrestling at a time when we were emerging as a national power.
"I was pretty tight with the guy. I wrestled for him three years and worked at his camp for almost 20 years," Bos added. "He had an impact on a lot of guys. About 66 of his former wrestlers have coached in California, Nevada and Arizona. Quite profound."
"Very sad. He was like a father to me when I really needed it," added John Woods, first- and second-place finisher in the Division II nationals and a two-time Division I qualifier and second-place finisher in 1969.
After Cal Poly won eight NCAA Division II titles, including seven straight from 1968 through 1974, Hitchcock guided Cal Poly in its elevation of the wrestling program to Division I in time for the 1974-75 season.
Seven of his teams finished among the top ten teams nationally in the NCAA I Nationals.
Hitchcock's wrestlers won 18 NCAA Division II national championships and earned All-American honors 67 times. At the Division I level, two Mustangs claimed national titles and 22 earned All-American honors. Twice Hitchcock was named NCAA Division II Wrestling Coach of the Year.
Born Jan. 1, 1934, Hitchcock (middle of front row, surrounded by 11 of his former wrestlers in photo at left taken at his induction into the California Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2000) was an outstanding football player and three-time Northern California wrestling champion at Hayward High School, where he posted a 101-2-0 career mark.
He went on to excel in both sports at Washington State in the mid-1950s. In wrestling, he was 97-4 overall with two Pacific Coast Intercollegiate titles while, in football, the fullback, guard and linebacker was selected to play in the 1956 East-West Shrine Classic. He was named Washington State's Athlete of the Year in 1956 and the football team's Player of the Year in 1955, also earning All-Pacific Coast honors.
Hitchcock coached high school wrestling at Castro Valley and Hayward high schools, posting a combined record of 72-1, winning five league championships, four CIF Section Championships, two Northern California Invitational team titles and the 1959 state championship while at Castro Valley. He also coached football to a 16-7-1 record while at Hayward.
Hitchcock served the NCAA Division II and the sport of wrestling in many leadership capacities and coached Team USA in numerous international competitions. He was team leader of the 1976 USA Olympic Greco-Roman team and team leader and coach of the 1979 USA Freestyle Team.
Hitchcock was inducted into the Helms Amateur Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1994, the NCAA Division II Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1998 and the California Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2000. He received the National Wrestling Hall of Fame's "Lifetime to Service Award" in 2002.
He launched the Vaughan Hitchcock Wrestling Camp in 1967 and managed the annual camp until 2001.
Hitchcock is survived by his wife Patricia and four children, sons Terry and Steve and daughters Pamela and Tracy. Steve Hitchcock was a two-time NCAA Division I national qualifier in 1975 and 1976 while wrestling at Cal Poly.
Services are pending.