One month after Vanguard University announced it was bringing back its men's varsity wrestling program after a nearly four-decade absence, the southern California school has named Caleb Flores -- a former wrestler at University of Northern Iowa -- as head coach.
As a wrestler for the UNI Panthers, Flores was named the 2007 Redshirt of the Year Award Winner at the Cedar Falls-based school before going on to be a NCAA Division I National Qualifier the following year. Twice he was named All-Conference for the Western Wrestling Conference and by his senior year he was recognized as team captain.
The Northern Iowa grad has spent the last eight years as the Assistant Coach at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, California, as well as serving as Assistant Coach at Northview High School in Covina, his prep alma mater. In that time, Flores has guided a pair of dual Junior College State Championship Teams, coached his teams to a Top-5 finish for six consecutive seasons, instructed 11 individual state champions, and 28 All-Americans. In 2013, he was recognized as the CCCAA Southern Region Assistant Coach of the Year. In addition, Flores also was the USA California Wrestling Folkstyle National Team coach.
"I would like to thank Vanguard University and Athletic Director Jeff Bussell for this great opportunity to be a part of the Lion family," Flores said. "I look forward to building the Vanguard wrestling program and strong relationships within the wrestling community. I am excited to see the expansion of wrestling here in California and even more specifically here in Orange County."
Athletic Director Bussell returned the favor, saying, "We couldn't be more excited about Coach Flores joining the VU Athletics family as the leader to bring wrestling back to our great campus. Caleb brings outstanding experience, professionalism and faith-based principles to Vanguard wrestling. The young men representing our program will find Caleb has unlimited enthusiasm for the sport and an uncompromising commitment to their overall experience as student-athletes. Caleb will be an asset to our university, department and the community."
With the return of wrestling to the Vanguard campus, the school will now be the first four-year college in Orange County to offer the sport. The school hopes to attract some of the 245,000 male high school wrestlers currently competing throughout the nation, including 22,000 male wrestlers in California.
Flores is expected to start recruiting efforts in order to assemble a wrestling team ready to take to the mat during the 2019-2020 school year.
Vanguard University is a private, four-year school located in Costa Mesa, Calif. in Orange County just south of Los Angeles. Founded in 1920, Vanguard has a total enrollment of approximately 2,500 students.