Seven national top-10 team finishes
PELLA — The U.S. Cadet & Junior National Greco-Roman tournament is the largest wrestling tournament in the world with about 3,000 high school competitors, and Central’s wrestling head coach Eric Van Kley was in the thick of it again this year.
The tourney was staged Sunday through Tuesday in Fargo, N.D. Van Kley served as head coach of the Iowa team this year after previously serving as an assistant. He’s coached in the tourney for seven years, first in Montana while he was head coach at the University of Great Falls (Mt.), and later in Iowa.
This year, Van Kley’s athletes had a strong finish with the Iowa Junior Greco Roman team (17-18 years old) placing sixth out of 30 teams. Six of the members were All-Americans.
Being involved with the teams has been a learning experience for Van Kley, one that he knows will improve his coaching at Central.
“Being a part of the Iowa national team staff is a great way to build relationships with competitors and other coaches,” said Van Kley. “It is also a fun opportunity to give back to the sport of wrestling and also continually learn and develop as a coach.”
Van Kley is entering his fifth season as head wrestling coach at Central College in 2011-12. Van Kley was named the co-winner of the 2009-10 Iowa Conference Coach of the Year Award after piloting the Dutch to their first winning season since 2000-01. In 2010-11, Central climbed to sixth in the powerful league's tourney, its highest finish in 15 years and sent a wrestler to the national tournament for the first time since 2004.