Aurora University announced the hiring of Justin Pearch as the head coach of the Aurora University men's and women's wrestling programs. He was selected to build both programs with the men's program returning to AU following an over three decade hiatus and the women's program being new as it is among the NCAA's emerging sports. The AU men's and women's wrestling teams will take to the mat and begin competition in the 2021-2022 season, becoming AU's 23rd and 24th collegiate sports.
"For the first time we completed a job search remotely and even with this alteration, the best candidate for the position was easily recognized. Justin Pearch is the ideal wrestling coach to start the women's and men's programs," said Director of Athletics Jim Hamad. "His recruiting connections and proven success in developing and instructing wrestlers is going to be beneficial in building the foundation. We expect these programs to meet the standard of excellence that has been established in the department and Justin will build AU Wrestling into a nationally recognized brand."
Pearch came to AU after four seasons as the head wrestling coach at Aurora Christian High School. In his time at Aurora Christian, the program produced an Illinois State Championship and two more two three finishes in a program that began in 2016. Additionally, he has served as the Illinois National Dual Meet Head Coach since 2015 and as the Illinois Cadet and Junior National Team Coach since 2013.
"I would like to take this moment to thank the entire search committee, especially Dr. Sherrick, Dr. de Lacey and Athletic Director Jim Hamad for their time, consideration and belief in me," said Pearch. "It has been an amazing process, during a time of so much uncertainty, witnessing their commitment to grow men's and women's wrestling. I am honored to take on the roll as Head Coach of wrestling at AU and look forward to uniting with campus leadership in restarting the men's wrestling program and igniting a woman's program."
No stranger to the local club wrestling scene, Pearch has been a coach at Izzy Style School of Wrestling for the past eight years, training wrestlers of all levels in various disciplines of wrestling (Folkstyle, Greco-Roman, Freestyle, Grappling, etc).
Pearch wrestled collegiately at the University of Oregon where he finished second at the 2007 Pac-10 championships at 141 and earned a place in the NCAA Division I national tournament. He spent two years at North Idaho College where he earned All-American honors in both seasons. He is a 2007 graduate of the University of Oregon with a bachelor's degree in sociology.
Aurora University is a member of the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference (NACC), Northern Collegiate Hockey Association and Central Intercollegiate Bowling Conference. The NACC began its first season of competition in the fall of 2006 and consists of 12 colleges and universities from the shared-border states of Illinois and Wisconsin. Member schools include: Alverno College, Aurora University, Benedictine University, Concordia University Chicago, Concordia University Wisconsin, Dominican University, Edgewood College, Lakeland College, Marian University, Milwaukee School of Engineering, Rockford University and Wisconsin Lutheran College with St. Norbert College joining for the 2021-2022 year.
AU sponsors 24 sports; 19 of the 21 Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference sponsored sports as well as men's and women's hockey, men's and women's wreslting and women's bowling. Men's teams in the NACC include baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, lacrosse, soccer, tennis, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field and volleyball. Women's NACC squads are fielded in basketball, cross country, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball, tennis, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, and volleyball.