Grand View wrestling coach Nick Mitchell (Photo/Mark Lundy, Lutte-Lens.com)
As another college wrestling season is about to begin, it's an unbeatable time to take a look back at the most successful collegiate mat programs.
In the past month, InterMat has been sharing the results of the Takedown Report blog's analysis of the wrestling coaches who have tallied the most national team titles in NCAA Division I, II and III. Now TDR has taken a similar, detailed look at the coaches at NAIA wrestling programs who have won championships at the annual national tournament.
First, a quick bit of history. The NAIA National Championships first made their debut in 1958. In the 62 years of the tournament, there have been 63 championship teams. (In 1994, two teams tied for the title.)
The coach with the most NAIA mat titles is Nick Mitchell of Grand View University, with a string of eight titles starting in 2012 ... with the most recent being in spring 2019. The Des Moines-based program still competes in NAIA.
In second place in the team title race are two coaches and their programs: David James of Central State of Oklahoma, in the 1980s, and Joe Parsi of Lindenwood University in the St. Louis area, from 2002 to 2009. James and Parsi guided their teams to five titles each. (Both schools now compete in NCAA Division II.)
David Ray of Montana State-Northern led his teams to four titles in the span from 1989 to 2004 to claim fourth place in team championships.
Four coaches with a trio of NAIA titles each are tied for fifth place: Richard Ulrich of Adams State, Russ Houck of Bloomsburg State, Eddie Griffin of Central State and Mike Machholz of Missouri Valley College. Bloomsburg won their titles in the 1960s before moving to D-I.
Takedown Report's Fleming does a masterful job compiling and presenting the statistics for NAIA coaches and programs which can claim at least one national title (many more than listed here) ... along with other tidbits of information that fans of NAIA wrestling -- and, in fact, fans of college wrestling at all levels -- will find fascinating.
Hungry for the same sort of info on the three divisions of NCAA wrestling? Takedown Report already shared its analysis of Division I championship coaches as well as Division II championship coaches ... and Division III championship coaches.
Questions? Comments? Contact TDR editor Martin Fleming directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.