Knapp Joins West Liberty Mat Staff
Knapp’s return fills the opening created in the fall when former assistant coach Brian Leggett left the hilltop to accept the head coaching position at Wheeling Park High School. Smith – also a former Hilltopper All-American – is thrilled to be reunited with his old WLU teammate.
“Brian Leggett was a great asset for our program over the past five years and I appreciate everything he did for us,” Smith said. “Wheeling Park hit a home run when they hired him to run their program.
“With the tradition we have at West Liberty, it’s always a plus when you’re able to bring a former WLU wrestler back to your coaching staff. When you can add a 2-time NCAA Division II All-American and a national finalist like Mitch, that’s a real feather in your cap.”
“The best thing about that is that we all make it a priority to represent our program and our university in a positive manner,” Smith said. “I’m really pleased with the coaching staff we have in place.”
A native of McConnelsville, Ohio, Knapp powered his way into the starting lineup as a true freshman and was a rare 4-time NCAA Division II national qualifier with the Black and Gold.
After coming up one win shy of All-America status during his freshman and sophomore campaigns, Knapp broke through to earn back-to-back All-America honors as a junior and senior.
He placed fifth at 197 pounds in the 2010 nationals and just missed claiming a national championship in 2011, falling to an unbeaten two-time national titlist in the 197-pound championship match. One of the most productive wrestlers in Hilltopper history, Knapp won 60 matches in his final two seasons.
After graduation, Knapp began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Campbellsville (Ky.) University.
He helped develop five NAIA All-Americans as the Tigers powered their way to a sixth-place finish at the NAIA Nationals in Des Moines, Iowa. Knapp returned as Campbellsville’s lead assistant the following season as the Tigers earned another Top 10 finish at the NAIA Nationals with three more wrestlers collecting All-America honors.
“I’m glad to be coming back to my alma mater as a member of the WLU coaching staff,” Knapp said. “I’m really looking forward to helping Coach Smith develop our student-athletes and assist them in reaching their full wrestling potential.”
Knapp is a resident of Hopedale, Ohio.
The West Liberty mat squad returns to action on Saturday when the Hilltoppers compete in a quadrangular at Penn State-Behrend in Erie, Pa.