Donnie Vinson (left; front center) and Kellen Russell (right) (Photo/Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
New Cornell head coach Mike Grey has announced a pair of assistant coaching hires today via the team's Instagram. Kellen Russell and Donnie Vinson will join the staff. Vinson as the Associate Head Coach and Russell as the first assistant.
Vinson was a volunteer assistant with the Big Red from 2014-17, will return to join Grey's first staff at Cornell. Vinson has spent the last four years as a coach at NC State under Pat Popolizio. During his time in Raleigh, the Wolfpack have gone 52-6 in dual meets and captured three regular season and ACC Tournament titles. In Vinson's first season, NC State finished in a tie for fourth in the nation, the highest in school history. Counting the NWCA All-Americans from 2020, Vinson oversaw 12 AAs during his time with NC State.
Vinson will return to New York, which is his home state. He was a two-time New York state runner-up for Whitney Point High School before enrolling at Binghamton. While at Binghamton, Vinson racked up 132 wins against only 27 defeats. The 132 wins set a Bearcat record, one that still stands to this day. During his sophomore season, Vinson defeated four-time NCAA champion Kyle Dake in a dual meet. It was one of four losses for Dake during his collegiate career.
Vinson qualified for the NCAA Championships on four occasions and was seeded in the top-ten three of those times. He earned All-American honors in 2012 after finishing third. That path to the consolation finals came in the most challenging way possible. As the fourth seed, Vinson lost in the opening round and proceeded to reel off seven straight wins. In those seven wins, Donnie tallied two falls, a tech, and a major decision.
After Vinson's competitive career at Binghamton ended, he spent a year on the Bearcat bench as a graduate assistant.
Russell comes to Ithaca after spending the last six years coaching at his alma mater, Michigan. He was initially a volunteer assistant for four years, before moving into a full-time assistant position. During his time on the Wolverine coaching staff, Russell and company produced 26 All-Americans and finished with an NCAA team trophy (fourth-place) in 2018.
Despite Michigan's recent success, Russell remains the school's most recent national champion. He finished his career with back-to-back national titles at 141 lbs in 2011 and 2012. During his junior campaign, he edged Boris Novachkov (Cal Poly) in the national finals, before downing Montell Marion (Iowa) in sudden victory, as a senior. Russell went a perfect, 38-0, as a junior and finished at 134-12.
Russell became the first (and only) Wolverine wrestler to capture four Big Ten titles. That led to the number one seed in each of his last three seasons. As a freshman, Russell was seeded third but finished in the Round of 12. He was seventh as a sophomore.
After college, Russell competed in freestyle and won the 2013 US Open. He was a runner-up at the World Team Trials later that year.
Like Grey, Russell is a New Jersey native, so moving to Ithaca brings him closer to home.