"I am extremely pleased that we are able to announce that Jeremy Hunter will remain on our staff as an assistant coach and Mike Poeta as a volunteer assistant," Heffernan said. "Their knowledge, work ethic and past experience as successful competitors will play important roles in all areas of the program. Jeremy has been an integral part of our success for the past eight years and Mike for the past five years, and they will continue to be very valuable assets to our student-athletes. We are fortunate to have Jeremy and Mike at Illinois."
Hunter has served as a volunteer assistant coach with the Illini for the past eight seasons, working primarily with the lighter and heavier weights. Recently, he was instrumental in the success of 133-pounder Jimmy Kennedy and heavyweight John Wise, who both earned All-America honors at the 2009 NCAA Championships.
Hunter was the NCAA champion at 125 pounds in 2000 and was a three-time All-American at Penn State, earning the honors from 1998-2000. He wrestled post-collegiately for four years, competing in two World Team Trials and the 2004 Olympic Trials, where he placed fourth at 55 kg. He was the 1999 Big Ten champion and finished in the top three in each of his four seasons. He was the 2000 Big Ten Wrestler of the Year after his second-straight 33-1 campaign and was the conference's Rookie of the Year in 1997. He led Penn State in scoring for three consecutive seasons and posted a string of 41 straight dual-meet wins.
"I fell a little short of my goals in college," Poeta said. "But I'm in the next chapter of my career and I'm going to do everything in my power to be a world and Olympic champion while also doing everything I can to get as many NCAA champions in our program as possible."
Poeta recently wrapped up a very successful collegiate career in which he was a three-time All-American and two-time national finalist. He won Big Ten 157-pound titles in 2008 and 2009, and finished his career with the second-best winning percentage in school history (.882). Poeta is the 10th three-time All-American in school history, and his 2008 campaign in which he went 35-3 ranks eighth in the Illini record books in winning percentage and ninth in wins.