Fresno State is turning to the top assistant of a national powerhouse to restart its wrestling program.
Troy Steiner, an associate head coach at Oregon State and a four-time All-American wrestler at Iowa during the early 90s, has been hired as Fresno State’s wrestling coach in a move that was endorsed and applauded by wrestling icon Dan Gable.
“He hasn’t proven he can do it – but he’s a pretty good bet to get it done,” the 15-time NCAA champion coach Gable said of his former wrestler Steiner, who is becoming a head coach for the first time in his career.
“And he has lots of contacts and knows a lot of people to help him get it done.”
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Before accepting the job, Steiner, 46, said he received assurance from the university and its athletic department that the wrestling program would be properly and fully supported. The program was dropped in 2006 because of budgetary and Title IX pressures.
The Bulldogs are scheduled to return to competition during the 2017-18 school year.
The opportunity to build a program from scratch and being the Valley where wrestling is so strong, I’m just excited and am really looking forward to the challenge.
New Fresno State wrestling coach Troy Steiner
“I told them that I had no intentions of taking over a program that could only be mediocre,” Steiner said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “I wanted a program that I felt could win big. And they agreed. It’s not all about money and the facilities. But it helps. It’s still about the people inside the doors.
“The opportunity to build a program from scratch and being the Valley where wrestling is so strong, I’m just excited and am really looking forward to the challenge.”
A news conference to formally introduce Steiner is scheduled for 1 p.m. Thursday at Save Mart Center.
Steiner has been at Oregon State since April 2006, moving from Iowa when then-Hawkeyes coach Jim Zalesky was hired by the Beavers. Steiner was promoted to associate head coach entering the 2012-13 season, and also coached at Wisconsin and Minnesota.
At Oregon State, Steiner helped the Beavers capture top-10 NCAA team finishes in 2012 and 2013, and win seven Pac-12 championships, including five straight from 2012-16.
7 Conference titles Oregon State won while Troy Steiner served as a Beavers assistant
“You can’t get a more quality person than Troy; he brings a lot of great knowledge to the table,” said Zalesky, whose Oregon State program has been a regular Top-25 team and finished No. 22 in the final national rankings in February. “Anytime you have success, it’s not just one coach. He’s played a big part.
“I think this is a great move for him and it’s a great move for Fresno State.”
As an All-American at Iowa, Steiner won three Big Ten titles while compiling a 148-13 record at 134 and 142 pounds.
As a four-time All-American wrestler at Iowa, Troy Steiner won three Big Ten titles while compiling a 148-13 record at 134 and 142 pounds, and was part of three national championship and four conference championship teams.
He and his twin, Terry, were part of three national championship and four conference championship teams.
In post-collegiate competition, Steiner was a nine-time U.S. national team member, winning the 1992 World Cup and 1996 Pan-American Games titles. He placed third at the U.S. Olympic Trials in 1992 and 1996, and fifth in 2000.
“Being able to find a head coach with the integrity, spirit and knowledge that Troy brings to Fresno State is invaluable not only for restarting the program, but also for bringing great student-athletes to campus to compete,” said Fresno State Athletic Director Jim Bartko.
A native of Bismarck, N.D., Steiner was inducted into the North Dakota Hall of Fame in 1998 and the Wrestling Hall of Fame of Iowa in 2013. He received his bachelor’s degree in social work from Iowa in 1993 and his master’s in kinesiology with a sports management emphasis from Minnesota in 1998.
Steiner and his wife, Shawn, have two children, Spencer and Abbigail.
Here’s a video interview with Steiner from 2013:
“Other than his work ethic, one of his greatest abilities is building relationships,” said Terry Steiner, who coaches the U.S. National Women’s wrestling team. “I think that’s why he’s going to flourish.
“He’s going to build relationships with the community, with the wrestling community, the high schools, the JCs. I just feel like this is a win-win situation all around.”
Wrestling program timeline
- July 2016: Hiring of assistant coaches
- Summer 2016: Recruitment of student-athletes begins
- November 2016: Early signing period; recruits can sign national letters of intent with the Bulldogs
- August 2017: Student-athletes arrive on campus
- Winter 2017-18: Wrestling program begins competition