A.J. Schopp and Tony Ersland coaching at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Purdue wrestling head coach Tony Ersland announced the promotions of a pair of staff members Tuesday, promoting A.J. Schopp to head assistant and Jake Sueflohn to an assistant coaching position. The assistant coaching pair has played a key role in the development of the Boilermakers' lower and middle weights over the past few seasons and aim to increase that influence in their new positions on the staff.
Schopp enters his third season with the Boilermakers, making considerable impact on the lower weights and their successes on the mat. Luke Welch blossomed in his senior year under Schopp, placing fourth at the Big Ten Championships at 125 pounds and qualifying for the NCAA Championships for the first time. Welch rolled up 32 victories in his final campaign, including 14 major decisions, earning the No. 14 seed at the national championships and finishing one-win shy of All-America status. Graduating senior Ben Thornton also saw his production increase under Schopp's tutelage, qualifying for two straight NCAA Championships at 133 pounds. He topped the 20-win mark in each season, including 27 as a junior, and made massive gains on the mat, where he exceeded his career-best mark for back points by 60 in his final season, rolling up 86 on the year.
Some of Schopp's new duties will include more in-depth involvement with recruiting and practice planning, in addition to wrestling development and fund raising.
"We knew we were getting a great wrestler and someone who would help us make huge gains in the room when we brought A.J. to West Lafayette," said Ersland. "What's been even better about A.J.'s presence is what he's brought to our group in their mentality and preparation. Our guys are getting that first-hand experience of a championship-caliber competitor, both on and off the mat."
After three seasons as a volunteer assistant with the Boilermakers, Sueflohn was elevated to a full-time assistant in June. After being recruiting by Ersland to Nebraska from Watertown, Wisconsin out of high school, Sueflohn joined his coach again in West Lafayette after a standout career with the Huskers. The four-time NCAA Championship qualifier piled up 109 college wins, placing at the Big Ten Championships in all four seasons, including runner-up finishes at the conference championships in 2013 and 2014. His time in the Boilermaker room has already proved fruitful for Ersland, playing a hand in the development of current Purdue standouts Nate Limmex and Griffin Parriott.
Sueflohn has helped Limmex to a pair of NCAA qualifying spots at 141 pounds and saw Parriott reach his first NCAA Championships in 2019 at 157 pounds. Parriott knocked off a pair of higher-seeded opponents in No. 14 seed Zach Hartman of Bucknell and No. 13 seed Jarrett Jacques of Missouri, coming up only two wins short of All-America status.
"It's been amazing to watch Jake grow and develop as a coach," said Ersland. "We're looking forward to his increased influence in our program and wrestling room, and his continued advancement as a coach."
In addition to his new roles with recruiting and coaching in his new position, Sueflohn will also assist with the Boilermakers' time management plan and practice planning.