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Gibson to lead Southern Oregon women's wrestling program

ASHLAND -- Joel Gibson, a longtime Southern Oregon University assistant and former Raider All-American, has been chosen to lead the SOU women's wrestling program, Director of Athletics Matt Sayre announced Monday.

Joel Gibson
Gibson will become the first full-time head coach for the team, which completed its fourth season in 2018-19. Since finishing his collegiate career with the Raiders in 2007, he's spent a total of eight seasons on Mike Ritchey's men's wrestling staff, including the last two as the head assistant. Between stints at SOU, he was Phoenix High School's head wrestling coach from 2014-17.

"I'm extremely excited about the opportunity," Gibson said. "The program is still in its infancy stages and we've experienced some success, but I have very high expectations about where we can go from here both athletically and academically. I feel our team has a lot of potential and can't wait to see what this next year brings."

A product of North Medford High, Gibson was initially a wrestling letterwinner at Oregon State University, from which he earned a bachelor's degree in liberal studies with an emphasis in history. He competed for SOU at 165 pounds during the 2006-07 season, serving as a team captain and receiving SOU's Dan Speasl Most Inspirational Award after a seventh-place finish at the NAIA Championships.

Gibson collected another degree in health and physical education from SOU and in 2011 graduated magna cum laude with a master's degree from the same department.

He began his coaching career under Ritchey in 2007 while continuing his schooling. With the Raiders, he's contributed to 10 individual NAIA national championships and 31 total All-American performances. While at Phoenix, he produced two girls state champions, eight boys state placers, and six freestyle and Greco-Roman state placers.

A freestyle coach for the 2019 Oregon Women's Cadet and Junior National Team, Gibson has earned Copper and Bronze coaching certifications from USA Wrestling.

Gibson married SOU alumna Ricci (Coultas) Gibson, a former Raider softball player, in 2013. The couple reside in Medford with their daughter, Henley, and son, Everett.

"We're confident Joel will bring structure and high standards to the program, both on the mat and in the classroom," Sayre said. "He presented a coherent plan for developing the whole student-athlete, from recruitment to graduation. He will also develop the SOU women's wrestling team's potential to compete for Cascade Conference and NAIA championships."

In four trips to the Women's College Wrestling Association Championships, the Raiders have placed 10th, 11th twice and 12th in the team point standings. At the inaugural NAIA Invitational in March, they took eighth with one All-American after going 9-8 in dual matches.

In June, the Cascade Conference announced that it would pick up wrestling as its eighth official women's sport starting with the 2019-20 season. The circuit will initially include SOU, Eastern Oregon, Life Pacific (Calif.), Menlo (Calif.), Providence (Mont.), Simpson (Calif.) and Warner Pacific, with Corban set to launch its program in 2020-21.

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