FERRUM, Va. -- Director of Athletics John Sutyak has announced the hiring of Ryan Riggs as head men's wrestling coach at Ferrum College. Riggs has been with the Panther wrestling program the past four seasons and recently completed his second year as associate head coach.
"We are extremely pleased that Ryan Riggs has agreed to be the next head men's wrestling coach at Ferrum College," said Sutyak. "Ryan has been instrumental in helping to build Ferrum into a national program and regional power within the NCAA. Having an accomplished coach already on staff allows us to continue the upward trajectory of Ferrum men's wrestling on the national level. In having the opportunity to work with him and observe him as a coach the last few months, I have full confidence in Ryan and how we will work together to keep Ferrum men's wrestling strong."
Riggs was promoted to associate head coach at Ferrum in July 2018. In doing so, he took on more day-to-day operations of the program, including recruiting, fundraising, practice development and coordinating Ferrum men's wrestling social media presence. He was instrumental in helping Ferrum host the 2019 NCAA Division III Wrestling National Championships at the Berglund Center in Roanoke, Virginia. Riggs also helped the Panthers host the NCAA Southeast Regional tournaments in 2017 and 2018. He has served as tournament director for the Star City Classic, Southeast Duals and Panther Open, all tournaments hosted by Ferrum.
Hired as the assistant men's wrestling coach in July 2016, he immediately stepped in and served as the head women's wrestling coach that season as well. The next fall, Ferrum's head cross country coach position was vacant and Riggs once again stepped in to fill the void.
In Riggs' first season at Ferrum, the Panther men won the 2017 NCAA Div. III Southeast Regional, with Riggs earning Regional Assistant Coach of the Year honors. Ferrum sent three wrestlers to the NCAA Tournament that season, including Logan Meister, who was a three-time NCAA qualifier, and Zack Beckner, who became the program's first National Finalist and NCAA runner-up.
Ferrum won Southeast Wrestling Conference Tournament (SWEC) titles all four years during Riggs' tenure as assistant and associate head coach, and he was named SEWC Assistant Coach of the Year in 2019. The Panthers posted top-10 finishes at a number of prestigious events, most notably the Pete Willson Invitational (2nd in 2017), the NWCA National Duals (8th in 2017) and the Citrus Open (2nd in 2019).
"I want to thank our Director of Athletics John Sutyak, Associate Athletic Director Gary Holden and President Dr. David Johns for believing in me as the next head wrestling coach at Ferrum College. I'm truly grateful for the opportunity to lead this program and amazing student athletes. I am ready to build on the success of this last season and have very high expectations for the future of Ferrum wrestling."
A native of Perry Township, Ohio, Riggs prepped at Massillon Perry High School, where he was a double All-American at the Asics Greco-Roman and Freestyle Fargo National Championships. Massillon Perry achieved its first top-10 national ranking (#8) by Amateur Wrestling News during Riggs' sophomore year in 2000-01.
He qualified three times for the Ohio State Tournament, was a two-time Ironman Tournament place winner and a Beast of the East Tournament finalist. Riggs was ranked nationally by USA Wrestling and Amateur Wrestling News before continuing his career at Cleveland State University as a scholarship wrestler under Coach Jack Effner. He placed 5th at the Eastern Wrestling League Tournament in 2007 and was ranked as high as #3 in the league.
Riggs becomes only the second head men's wrestling coach in the seven-year history of the program. He succeeds Nate Yetzer, who stepped down last week to accept the head wrestling coach position at Roanoke College.
Riggs takes over a program that finished 6-3 in 2019-20 and sent two wrestlers to the NCAA Division III Tournament. The Panthers are expected to graduate three wrestlers this May, with over 30 eligible to return for the 2020-21 season.