Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

June 21, 2014

OSU assistant wrestling coach Guerrero headlines Hall of Fame class

Fifteen years after graduating from Oklahoma State, three-time NCAA individual wrestling champion Eric Guerrero will have his name alongside some of the sports greats.

Guerrero will be one of four distinguished members inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Friday night.

“I think it goes beyond him just winning three national titles. His success after college, the number of teams he made on the world level, as well as the Olympics, tells you he sustained a high level for a long period of time,” OSU wrestling coach John Smith said. “You could even go back into his high school days — he had great success and was one of the all-time greats in the state of California. So it’s exciting for me to see him going in, because he’s well deserving.”

Guerrero compiled a 117-13 overall record during his time as a wrestler at Oklahoma State from 1996-99, highlighted by a perfect 31-0 record his senior year. With Guerrero serving as one of the team leaders, the Cowboys won 68 consecutive dual matches spanning from the last four duals of his freshman year through the end of his senior season.

Besides winning three straight national championships at the college level — from 1997-98 — after finishing fifth as a freshman to earn the honor of being one of only 12 four-time All-Americans in the history of Oklahoma State, Guerrero represented the United Stats at the 2004 Athens Olympics and was a four-time U.S. Open national champion, being named Outstanding Wrestler of the 2002 U.S. Open.

Prior to his success at Oklahoma State, Guerrero was a two-time USA FILA junior world freestyle champion and won the 1995 USA junior freestyle championship.

“The field is awfully tough, I thought maybe he’d go in (to the hall of fame) in four or five years from now,” Smith said. “I think the voters really saw what his whole career was, rather than just the segment here at Oklahoma State. Of course, three-time national champion isn’t easy to do now, but when you look at his whole career, it pushed him ahead of a lot of people.”

Guerrero originally came to Stillwater after a stellar high school career at Independence High School in San Jose, Calif., that resulted in a cadet world title in 1993, first-team ASICS All-America recognition in 1994 and 1995, a junior national title in 1995 and California Male Athlete of the Year honors in 1995, among countless other accolades.

While Guerrero is entering the hall for his competitive career, he has blossomed his time into a great coaching career.

On Smith’s coaching staff for the past nine years, Guerrero was promoted to the role of associate head coach prior to the 2012-13 season — first joining the staff in 2001 as a strength and conditioning coach. During his time on staff, Oklahoma State has won four NCAA team championships and eight Big 12 Conference tournament team championships.

Additionally, he was selected to serve as head coach for the USA at the 2009 FILA Junior Freestyle World Championships in Ankara, Turkey and led that squad to its most successful showing in 11 years.

While one former Cowboy will be inducted into the hall of fame, a future Cowboy will also be recognized Friday night. OSU incoming freshman Chance Marsteller will be recognized with the Dave Schultz High School Excellence award.

Marsteller, a graduate of Kennard-Dale High School in Fawn Grove, Pa., is a four-time Pennsylvania high school state champion, who earned the Outstanding Wrestler Award three times at the event.

He established the Pride Wrestling Club in his hometown to help train and coach wrestlers ages 8-18. He also volunteers as a coach with Kennard-Dale Youth Wrestling. On the scholastic side, he carries a 3.33 GPA and will attend Oklahoma State University this fall as a projected 174 pounder.

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