Today, InterMat has learned that Chris Ayres will be the next head coach at Stanford University. Ayres has spent the last 17 years leading the Princeton Tigers.
During his tenure at Princeton, Ayres amassed a 93-168 dual record. The numbers don’t do Ayres justice as he inherited a Princeton team in 2006 that did not have a national qualifier in the previous season. In fact, they had only one in the final three years before Ayres was hired.
Ayres had to totally rebuild the Princeton program as the Tigers lost their first 35 matches with him at the helm. He didn’t produce his first national qualifier until the 2010 national tournament. For reasons like those (and plenty others) InterMat has dubbed the turnaround at Princeton, under Ayres, the “Greatest in College Sports.” At the 15th anniversary of his hiring, InterMat spoke with Ayres at length about the early years and his perseverance.
Once Brett Harner broke through and earned All-American honors in the 2016 NCAA Tournament, Princeton was off and running. The following year the team saw Matt Kolodzik earn All-American honors as a freshman, which was a program-first at the time. Kolodzik also represented the highest-ranked recruit ever (at the time) to sign with the Tigers.
While he didn’t know it at the time, Ayres’ final match coaching in Princeton colors demonstrated just how far the program turned under his watch. Another blue-chip recruit, Patrick Glory, won the 125 lb NCAA title and became the first Princeton wrestler since Bradley Glass did so in 1951. Glory and Quincy Monday were both finalists the previous year, the first time Princeton had ever put two wrestlers in the national finals.
Other key achievements for Ayres at Princeton include stopping Cornell’s run of 92 straight Ivy League wins in 2020. That streak spanned 18 seasons. That Ivy League title was Princeton’s first since 1986.
Under his tutelage, five different Tiger wrestlers have combined to earn NCAA All-American honors ten times. After sending a program-high seven wrestlers to the 2017 NCAA Tournament, Ayres was named EIWA Co-Head Coach of the Year.
Ayres will inherit a Stanford team that has a young roster, ranked #24 in duals by InterMat, with six wrestlers amongst the top-33 for the preseason. There’s plenty of talent left in the cupboard as the team is fresh off of back-to-back recruiting classes ranked in the top eight nationally by InterMat.
The Stanford position was vacant after Rob Koll left for the head coaching position at his alma mater, North Carolina.