Gibson to lead Southern Oregon men’s, women’s wrestling teams

Courtesy of Southern Oregon Athletics – LinkBy: SOU Sports Information

ASHLAND – Southern Oregon University Director of Athletics Matt Sayre is staying in-house to pick Mike Ritchey‘s successor, at least for now.

Sayre announced Monday that Joel Gibson, who completed his first season as the Raiders’ head women’s wrestling coach in 2019-20, will additionally oversee the men’s program in 2020-21. A national search to replace Ritchey, SOU’s head men’s coach of 25 years, had been in progress before the COVID-19 disruption prompted SOU to enact a hiring freeze. The search will be revisited next year.

In a pair of coinciding moves, Bob Bergen will be elevated to head women’s assistant coach and Tucker Van Matre to head men’s assistant. Both served on Gibson’s women’s staff this season.

“We’re experiencing strange times right now and have had to make adjustments to our normal process,” Sayre said. “Fortunately, we have a strong leader like Joel to take our wrestling programs through this challenging period. He’s a dynamic coach who knows the strong tradition of our men’s wrestling program. He’s an alum, a great recruiter, and team builder. The men’s team will definitely benefit from his experience and the women’s team will continue to grow and compete at the high level they expect.”

Gibson guided his first SOU women’s team to an 8-2 dual record. The Raiders were No. 3 in the NAIA coaches’ poll and boasted eight individuals with top-10 rankings going into the NAIA Invitational Tournament, which was canceled the day before it was scheduled to begin.

Gibson finished his collegiate wrestling career with the Raiders in 2006-07 and was an All-American at 165 pounds. From 2007-19, he was on Ritchey’s staff for a total of eight seasons – during which time the Raiders produced 10 individual national championships and 31 All-America performances – and between stints was Phoenix High School’s head coach from 2014-17.

“I’m excited to have the challenge and opportunity to lead both programs next year,” Gibson said. “We had a great group of young women who brought the program to national title contention and will no doubt be in contention again next year, and the men’s program has a talented young core that’s ready to get back to national prominence. We have a lot of hungry, motivated wrestlers and we’re continuing to put together an already talented coaching staff that will get the most out of them.”

In addition to Bergen – who was an assistant under Bob Riehm for 10 years, and has been back at SOU coaching in a volunteer capacity since retiring from Eagle Point High in 2007 – and Van Matre, who was a three-time national qualifier at SOU from 2010-14, the staffs will be stacked with standout alums. Miguel Baltazar and Derek Rottenberg will remain in place and be joined by four-time national champion Brock Gutches from the men’s side, and Olivia Pizano and Anesia Ramirez will be back from the women’s side after recently completing their senior seasons.

The Raider men went 5-8 in dual action in 2019-20. They were limited to one point at the national tournament, though they’ve posted 11 top-five finishes in the last 20 years.

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