Chris Ayres was appointed Stanford’s new head wrestling coach on Sept. 11, taking over for Rob Koll.
“I always looked at Stanford as an amazing program,” Ayres said.
Ayres heard Koll was leaving before the move to North Carolina was official. Therefore, Ayres began putting his name into the hat by reaching out to former assistant coach Ray Blake and Stanford’s administrators.
Ayres described applying for the Stanford job as similar to Princeton 17 years ago.
“Stanford has a great group of alumni and they really want this thing to be good,” Ayres said.
“One of the administrators reached out to me and said it was open. I put in an application and within about a week I had the job.”
The transition between Princeton and Stanford has been fairly easy since both schools are similar academically and in athletics.
“It's actually pretty insane how you get in, how hard it is to get in, and the type of kids we have to recruit,” Ayres said. “It's funny, I recruited at least half of these kids to Princeton and about a quarter of those kids might've been Princeton or Stanford in the final mix. I've been telling them all to look at all the hoops I jumped through just to coach you.”
In addition, Ayres understands how to balance the student-athlete's wrestling experience and academic experience.
On the other hand, Ayres has to adapt to the ever-changing West Coast wrestling atmosphere.
“The West Coast has been underutilized,” Ayres said. “You got a lot of kids from the West Coast going East or to the Midwest. I have a really strong desire to help California wrestling in general. I hope we are a centerpiece for the state and the West Coast.”
Although Ayres is joining a West Coast school, he is excited to remain along the East Coast when the Cardinal head to the ACC next season.
“I was just trying to learn as much as possible at Princeton about the realignment stuff, I just, it wasn't affecting me.”
“I was on my interview when they figured out they're in the ACC,” Ayres said. “I was pumped about that. We're gonna get a lot of bang for our buck at the ACC. It's taken a huge jump. That helped make the decision.”
Ayres believes the move to the ACC can help bring in more talent nationwide too. In addition, he will be able to face a familiar foe at Stanford and in the Ivy League.
“Rob's been phenomenal in the transition,” Ayres said “There are things that he knows that the assistants just don't know. But it will be interesting because his guys have a little opportunity to make him hurt a little bit.”
Even though his mindset is to claim gold at Stanford, he is easing into his role as the head coach. Currently, he moved near the campus and is learning the culture, names of his wrestlers and how the program runs. Even though he has been to a handful of practices, he has laid back and let both sides transition smoothly.
However, Ayres is excited about his new journey.
“I went out there with no Stanford gear,” Ayres said. They hooked me up with a bunch of gear now. I'm just looking forward to being in a new environment, working with some new kids and having a new situation.”