DICKINSON, ND- One day after the resignation of former Head Wrestling Coach Thadd O'Donnell, Dickinson State University Athletic Director Tim Daniel announces Justin Schlecht will become the new Head Wrestling Coach for the Blue Hawks.
"The opportunity to take over such a successful program is a great honor and responsibility. Coach O’Donnell has done a great job during his great coaching career, and I couldn’t ask for a better role model/mentor. He has taught me a lot about being a wrestler, a leader and about being a coach. While being a former athlete and coaching along with Coach O’Donnell, I have learned a lot of great skills and built a lot of similar philosophies," said Schlecht.
As a member of the DSU wrestling team Schlecht became one of the most decorated athletes ever to attend the school. Schlecht recorded three national championships and one third place finish as a Hawk. Schlecht attended DSU from 2002-2003 before deploying for an 18 month tour of duty in Iraq. Schlecht followed his stint in the Army National Guard with an extremely successful return to the program from 2004-2008. In both 2007 and 2008 Schlecht was recognized as the NWCA Wrestler of the Year. In 2007 Schlecht was also voted as the Outstanding Wrestler of the NAIA National Tournament. Schlecht holds or shares six Dickinson State school wrestling records.
"Entering into this new leadership role of DSU Wrestling, I will be approaching it with a very similar model as coach O’Donnell has been during his time. Which means bringing in quality athletes that are successful both on and off the mat. Then building on the great skills they already posses and helping strengthen any weakness that the individuals or team might have. The current group of wrestling student athletes here at DSU are great individuals both on and off the mat that are goal orientated and dedicated to being excellent members of a team and society. This will make the transition from one great leader to a new leader," said Schlecht.
The Whitewood, S.D. native finished his career with 69 pins and a 140-22 overall record. He was 17-1 in four national tournament appearances with 13 pins.
"Without a doubt, Justin did an outstanding job as a student athlete at Dickinson State. Justin was also on some outstanding teams the years he was competing. In my 20 years as a head coach there were a couple of the teams that I truly believe could have won a team national title and Justin was a part of those teams. As an athlete Justin worked hard and expected the best from himself. Recently he has come back to help coach and he has brought that work ethic to his coaching," said former Head Wrestling Coach Thadd O'Donnell.
"We are very excited to have Justin taking over and leading our wrestling program. He has a great history with us from being a three time National Champion as well as earning All- American status. He knows what it will take and do whatever it takes to keep our wrestling program competitive at the national level," said DSU Athletic Director Tim Daniel.
"I would like to thank the support of DSU, Coach O'Donnell, the coaching staff at DSU, and most importantly my family. My wife Meagan and two girls have always been very supportive of my goals and dreams," said Schlecht.