Courtesy of Linfield Athletics – Link
Chad Hanke has been hired to lead the relaunch of collegiate wrestling at Linfield University.
Director of Athletics Dr. Garry Killgore announced the hiring of Hanke as new men’s and women’s wrestling coach on Wednesday, November 3. Linfield recently unveiled plans to revive its dormant men’s wrestling program while also adding a new women’s wrestling program.
“Chad is an excellent person to be our first head wrestling coach in years,” said Killgore. “He has great street credibility, both as a competitor and as a coach. He is very well-connected on the West Coast and has good connections back East. His work ethic, positive attitude and his ability to connect well with his athletes will all serve him well in getting this program ‘off to the races.'”
Hanke said he is “honored and excited to lead Linfield student-athletes into a new era with wrestling. Linfield already has a long and rich history of success in athletics. I’m looking forward to continuing that success with the men’s and women’s wrestling programs.
“I’d like to thank the leadership at Linfield University and the Athletics Department, especially President Miles Davis, Director of Athletics Garry Killgore and everyone associated with Restore College Wrestling,” said Hanke. “It takes a tremendous amount of commitment and dedication to restore a wrestling program and I’m ready for the challenge.”
Hanke brings seven years of coaching experience as well as an accomplished amateur wrestling career at Oregon State University and nearby Dayton High School.
His collegiate coaching experience includes two years as an assistant coach at Cal State-Bakersfield (2018-20) and three years in a similar role at American University (2005-18). He also spent one season as a volunteer assistant coach at Oregon State (2014-15).
During his time at Cal State-Bakersfield, Hanke coached five NCAA qualifiers and three Pac-12 Conference champions. At American University, he tutored nine NCAA qualifiers, including university freestyle national champion Jeric Kasunic.
He also spent time working at the senior level at the USA Regional Training Center (2013-15). His most recent coaching position has been as a volunteer assistant with McMinnville High School.
As an amateur, Hanke was a four-year starter and twice competed at the NCAA Division I Championships. He piled up 113 career victories over his four seasons. As a senior in 2012-13, he compiled a 35-5 record that included a Pac-12 title in the 285-pound weight class.
Hanke also competed as a a senior-level athlete for four years at the National Regional Training Center, twice winning the FILA Junior national championship in 2008 and 2011. In 2012, he was invited to participate in the USA Wrestling Olympic Team Trials.
His most recent competitions came with the Titan Mercury Wrestling Club, where he was crowned a FILA University National Champion at the 97-kilogram weight class in 2014.
The men’s wrestling program is expected to compete against regional colleges and universities such as Pacific (Ore.), Corban, Southern Oregon, Eastern Oregon, Warner Pacific, Simon Fraser and Simpson (Calif.).
In addition to the above-mentioned schools, the women’s program will likely see action at the Oregon Classic at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds each January.
In the postseason, Linfield will compete at NCAA Division III regional and national championship tournaments.
Linfield fielded an intercollegiate varsity wrestling program up until 1985 but the program was disbanded. With Hanke as its new coach, Linfield has the opportunity to fill an underserved niche within the Pacific Northwest, according to Killgore.
“Chad’s first goal is to recruit 20-plus student-athletes. From there, he will continue to grow both the women’s and men’s programs to 25-40 student-athletes in each program. I anticipate that our student-athletes will be highly competitive at the NCAA III level.”
A handful of current student-athletes are competing in wrestling currently as a university club. Linfield will begin competing on the intercollegiate level beginning in the fall of 2022.