John Hughes with Pat Santoro (Photo/Lehigh Athletics)
BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- John Hughes announced his resignation Wednesday as an associate head coach of the Lehigh wrestling program. Hughes was in the midst of his 12th season on the Mountain Hawks' staff, all of which has been spent working alongside Head Coach Pat Santoro and Associate Head Coach Brad Dillon.
"I announced my resignation to the team and explained my decision was due to personal reasons," Hughes said. "I have been honored to be part of Lehigh University's legendary wrestling team and family. I thank Head Coach Pat Santoro for his continuous mentorship, guidance and support for more than a decade. I also thank Lehigh's administrators, staff, student-athletes, families and fans. All have had such a positive impact on my family and I. I also appreciate the continued support of my wife, Melissa and children, Riley and Morgan."
"John is a loyal and longtime friend and we've been through a lot together," Santoro said. "He is a tremendous coach, and a big part of the turnaround in Lehigh wrestling in our time here. He has touched many lives and will continue to do so. I understand his decision to take time away from a demanding job to focus on himself and his family. I wish him the best and will miss seeing him on a daily basis."
Hughes joined the Lehigh coaching staff in the summer of 2008 and was in his eighth season with the title of Associate Head Coach. A three-time All-American and former NCAA Champion at Penn State, Hughes helped guide the Mountain Hawks to 145 dual wins in 11-plus seasons in Bethlehem, plus back-to-back EIWA team titles in 2018 and 2019 and top ten NCAA finishes in 2011 and 2012.
He worked with wrestlers up and down the lineup at Lehigh, but specialized in the middleweights. During his 11-plus year run, Hughes helped mold Brandon Hatchett into a two-time All-American and NCAA finalist at 165 and mentored Mitch Minotti to back-to-back All-America honors at 149 and 157 in 2014 and 2015. In recent years, Hughes has worked with two-time All-American Jordan Kutler and for the last season-plus helped Josh Humphreys win an EIWA title as a true freshman at 157.
Hughes' impact was also felt on the recruiting trail where he played a major role Lehigh regularly bringing in recruiting classes that were highly-ranked on a national level.
A native of Stillwater, Pennsylvania, Hughes is regarded as one of the toughest wrestlers in Penn State history. He won an NCAA Championship at 142 in 1995 and added All-American honors with a seventh place finish in 1994 and a runner-up finish in 1996. Hughes amassed with 121 career victories for the Nittany Lions. In addition to his national title, Hughes was the 1995 Big Ten Champion and also won a gold medal at the 1994 Pan-Am Games and a University National Freestyle Championship.
In five seasons on the coaching staff at Penn State, Hughes made a profound and immediate impact in the training room. Working predominantly with the Nittany Lion middleweights, Hughes helped guide Bubba Jenkins and Dan Vallimont to All-American honors in 2008, while as a team, Penn State crowned four All-Americans and finished third in the team standings, the program's best finish since 1994.
Hughes won four PIAA state championships wrestling for Benton High School. He earned his bachelor's degree in landscape contracting from Penn State in 2002.