NWCA recognizes Oklahoma’s Nick Williams, Ohio’s John Heffernan as NWCA Scholastic Coaches of the Year

Manheim, Pennsylvania – The National Wrestling Coaches Association has announced its annual scholastic coaching award winners for 2017-18.

Recently retired Altus (Oklahoma) High School head coach Nick Williams has been named the NWCA Scholastic Coach of the Year while and longtime St. Edward (Ohio) High School assistant John Heffernan has been named the NWCA Scholastic Assistant Coach of the Year.

Williams and Heffernan were chosen from the eight section winners, which come from each state’s respective coaches association.

Williams spent 20 years as a high school wrestling coach, the last 15 at Altus, which finished sixth at the Oklahoma 5A state wrestling championships and fourth in the state’s dual meet championships. While winning a state championship isn’t a prerequisite to win such an award, Williams led his team, coaching from a wheelchair after being diagnosed with ALS in March of 2017. The community responded by dedicating the Nick Williams Wrestling Center within Altus Public Schools in May of 2017.

“So much of being a great coach is being there for your student-athletes,” said NWCA Executive Director Mike Moyer. “In this case, we didn’t just have a coach battling a debilitating affliction, but we had wrestlers and a community battling with him. It’s a true testament to what this coach means to the school and the community at large.”

Williams was also presented the Gallagher Award by Oklahoma State University and has continued to fight for the sport of wrestling. He’s also maintained his place in supporting the Oklahoma Wrestling Coaches Association, serving as its vice president.

Two Altus alums competed at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships this past season in Cleveland – Northern Colorado’s Keilan Torres and 133-pound All-American Montorie Bridges of Wyoming.

St. Edward is one of the most iconic wrestling programs in the nation. Dominance was instilled by former coach Howard Ferguson and carried on to current coach Greg Urbas, who’s had John Heffernan as his assistant for the past 27 years.

Heffernan’s reputation as one of the best technical coaches in the country is evidenced by the long line of state champions, national champions and All-Americans coming out of the Lakewood, Ohio school. St. Edward also has one of the nation’s most unique streaks, as an alum has placed at the NCAA Division I Championships every year since 1991. That streak was extended by Michigan’s Dom Abounader this season. Across all NCAA Divisions, St. Edward wrestlers have earned All-American honors every year since 1982, including Heffernan, who was a two-time All-American at Iowa.

All told, he’s helped coach St. Edward to 21 state championships, 75 individual state champions and 16 different wrestlers to 40 All-American medals at the NCAA championships, including national champions Dean Heil of Oklahoma State and Ryan Bertin of Michigan.

“Let’s just look at that run of All-Americans at the Division I level and the foundations they’ve been taught by coach Heffernan,” said Moyer. “You really can’t put into words his level of success. He could probably win this award every year.”

Other NWCA Section Coach of the Year Award winners were: Section 1: Carmine Colace (Franklin, Mass.), Section 2: Brian Shaffer (Battlefield, Va.), Section 3: Jake Stewart (Bamberg-Ehrhardt, S.C.), Section 4: Tom Hogan (Don Bosco, Iowa), Section 5: Doug Vander Linden (Burlington, Kan.), Section 7: Mike Ripplinger (Box Elder, Utah) and Jeff Welsing (Yuma, Ariz.), Section 8: Matt Jorgensen (Deer Park, Wash.).

Winners along with Heffernan for the NWCA Section Assistant Coach of the Year were: Section 1: Tony Napolitano (Portland, Maine), Section 3: Pat Holcomb (North Hall, Ga.), Section 4: Tim Coolidge (Eaton Rapids, Mich.), Section 5: Jay Meneely (Millard South, Neb.), Section 6: James Garcia (Brighton, Colo.), Section 7: Chris Hardy (Box Elder, Utah) and Davy Miller (Liberty, Ariz.), Section 8: Todd Slater (East Valley, Wash.).

State Head Coaches of the Year

SectionCoach NameSchoolState
Section 1Carmine ColaceFranklinMA
Section 1John FurgesonDamascusMD
Section 1Scott PrebleNokomisME
Section 1Dan SmithWatchung Hills RegionalNJ
Section 1Darren C. GoldsteinRocky PointNY
Section 1Brian CoonMount Anthony UnionVT
Section 2Michael RansawBenjamin RussellAL
Section 2John RothWalton VeronaKY
Section 2Mark MarinelliOlentangy LibertyOH
Section 2Casey TaylorReynoldsPA
Section 2Brian ShafferBattlefieldVA
Section 2Shaun SmithParkersburg SouthWV
Section 3Danny WalkerLake GibsonFL
Section 3Joey Di NinoOlaGA
Section 3Ben WatsonMooresvilleNC
Section 3Jake StewartBamberg-EhrhardtSC
Section 3Jimmy MillerScience HillTN
Section 4Tom HoganDon BoscoIA
Section 4Mark HahnGlenbard NorthIL
Section 4Chris CooperColumbus EastIN
Section 4Jerry LaJoieGaylorMI
Section 5Doug Vander LindenBurlingtonKS
Section 5Jamie HeidtKasson-MantorvilleMN
Section 5Charlie SherertzWhitfieldMO
Section 5Dustin NagelHillsboro Central ValleyND
Section 5Shane AllisonValentineNE
Section 5Jeremy SwensonCantonSD
Section 6Cole AlisonGrand JunctionCO
Section 6Nick WilliamsAltusOK
Section 6Vinnie LoweKatyTX
Section 7Jeff WelsingYumaAZ
Section 7Greg VarelaGilroyCA
Section 7Mike RipplingerBox ElderUT
Section 7Thad TrukilloCheyenne EastWY
Section 8Troy ThainCraigAK
Section 8Kevin CorbettLeilehuaHI
Section 8Kevin GliderSugar SalemID
Section 8Guy MelbySidneyMT
Section 8Jake HuffmanCrook CountyOR
Section 8Matt JorgensenDeer ParkWA

State Assistant Coaches of the Year

SectionCoach NameSchoolState
Section 1Joe KilloMt HebronMD
Section 1Tony NapolitanoPortlandME
Section 1Bill RomanoMt. OliveNJ
Section 1Eric MullenCanandaigua AcademyNY
Section 1Matt ThurstonSpauldingVT
Section 2Riley PikeThompsonAL
Section 2Jason MooreWalton VeronaKY
Section 2John HeffermanSt. EdwardOH
Section 2Michael HillsReynoldsPA
Section 2Ian SquiresSt. Christopher’sVA
Section 2John DempseyHuntingtonWV
Section 3Jake CampbellTampa PrepFL
Section 3Pat HolcombNorth HallGA
Section 3Richard HoffmanSt. Stephen’sNC
Section 3John HiersBamberg-EhrhardtSC
Section 3Justin AnglinBradley CentralTN
Section 4Carl HarveyRochelle TownshipIL
Section 4Mike PoppeGarrettIN
Section 4Tim CoolidgeEaton RapidsMI
Section 5JD HandAugustaKS
Section 5Al FlynnScott WestMN
Section 5Buddy SmithWhitfieldMO
Section 5Nick TimmKenmare BowbellsND
Section 5Jay MeneelyMillard SouthNE
Section 5Jeremy AskCantonSD
Section 6James GarciaBrightonCO
Section 6Will DelkPiedmontOK
Section 6Huey HuynhSouthlake CarrollTX
Section 7Davy MillerLibertyAZ
Section 7Gilroy Assistant CoachesGilroyCA
Section 7Chris HardyBox ElderUT
Section 8Randy HansonSouth AnchorageAK
Section 8Corey TaniguchiLeilehuaHI
Section 8Ty GravesSidneyMT
Section 8Rick JordanDallasOR
Section 8Todd SlaterEast ValleyWA


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