There's a changing of the guard at the top of one of the nation's top high school wrestling programs, as St. Edward High School has announced the retirement of head coach Greg Urbas ... with John Heffernan to take the helm, the Cleveland-area school announced Wednesday.
"Greg Urbas is a man of incredible character, integrity and wisdom," said Jim Kubacki, St. Edward President. "He is the model for generations of students for living a life rooted in faith, genuine relationships, and a commitment to service. It is a privilege to have Coach Urbas as a colleague. He is a true servant leader. The excellence he has achieved speaks for itself."
The stats back up that sentiment. In his 29 years as the head wrestling coach at St. Edward, Urbas has been one of the most decorated and most successful scholastic coaches in the United States in any sport. He has coached 76 individual Ohio state champions, and is able to claim at least one NCAA All-American wrestler in each of the past 35 years. In terms of team accomplishments under Urbas' guidance… St. Edward teams won 4 national championships, 24 state championships, 25 district championships and 29 sectional championships.
In March, St. Edward won its fourth straight Division I team title -- and the seventh in nine years -- at the Ohio high school state wrestling championships in Columbus. It was the 32nd team championship for the Eagles, a feat no other school in Ohio can claim.
St. Edward just concluded the 2017-18 season ranked No. 8 in high schools nationwide by InterMat, with three individual St. Ed wrestlers also earning spots in weight-by-weight rankings.
John Heffernan (Photo/Sam Janicki)
Taking the helm upon Urbas' retirement will be his long-time assistant, John Heffernan. A 1984 graduate of St. Edward, Heffernan completed his career as an Eagle with an Ohio individual wrestling state championship as a senior year. Heffernan then headed west on I-80 to the University of Iowa, where he was a two-time NCAA All-American wrestler for the Hawkeyes. He has been an assistant coach at St. Edward since 1991 and was recently named the 2017-2018 Scholastic Assistant Coach of the Year by the National Wrestling Coaches Association.
"John is the heart and soul of St. Ed's Wrestling," said Urbas. "As head coach, he will ensure that our student-athletes continue to compete at the highest levels and represent the best of St. Edward High School."
Urbas, who in addition to coaching wrestling has also taught math, will continue to serve as a math tutor and assist the wrestling program in various ways. Here's how the school hinted at Urbas' future role with St. Ed on its Twitter account midday Wednesday:
"Coach Urbas is and always will continue to be a big part of the St Ed's program. Not a better leader or role model. Thank you Coach for everything you do and will continue to do for St Ed's."
St. Edward High School is private, all-male Catholic, college-prep high school located in Lakewood, Ohio immediately west of Cleveland. It was founded in 1949 and is operated in the Holy Cross tradition by the Midwest Province of the Brothers of Holy Cross, Notre Dame, Indiana. It has an enrollment of approximately 1,000 students.