PHILADELPHIA The University of Pennsylvania athletic department announced the hiring of Larry “Zeke” Jones as the head wrestling coach. Zeke, a 2004 U.S. Olympic Freestyle Coach and assistant head coach at West Virginia, becomes the 17th coach in the program’s history.
“I am really excited about having Zeke join the Penn athletics family,” Penn Athletic Director Steve Bilsky said. “He brings a great combination of outstanding athletic and academic success as an individual and coach on both national and international levels. His commitment to developing a strong academic program is demonstrated by West Virginia’s success as a top-12 NWCA Academic team for the last three years. He played a very significant role as an assistant head coach in the development of an excellent wrestling program at West Virginia, and I have confidence that he will be able to uphold the tradition of wrestling excellence we have here at Penn.
“It is a great opportunity and privilege to work at the University of Pennsylvania,” Jones said. “I am excited to be a part of such a university with a rich tradition and excellence in both academics and wrestling. I look forward to helping these young men reach their goals of being national, world and Olympic champions as well as achieving success in the classroom. My family and I are thankful for the opportunity to come to Philadelphia and Penn."
Jones served as an assistant for the Mountaineers for seven seasons. During that time he coached three NCAA Champions, five NCAA Finalists, 12 All-Americans, 17 EWL conference champions, three first-team Academic All-Americans and 12 NCAA Academic All-Americans. Jones also coached at Arizona State University. During his tenure, the Sun Devils had one NCAA Champion, 18 All-Americans, four top-10 NCAA team finishes and 19 Pac-10 champions.
In addition to coaching at WVU, Jones was named the 2004 United States Olympic freestyle coach. The U.S. freestyle wrestlers won three medals (one gold and two silver) at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. Jones coached the U.S. men's freestyle team to four gold medals at the 2003 Pan American Games. All seven wrestlers on the U.S. squad won medals. He was also head coach when the U.S. World team competed in Sophia, Bulgaria. That team was named the team of the month by the U.S. Olympic Committee. In 2001, Jones was named freestyle coach of the year by USA Wrestling.
Jones graduated from Arizona State with a bachelor’s degree in business finance. While competing for the Sun Devils he was a three-time All-American, three-time Pac-10 champion and member of the 1988 NCAA Championship team and the runner-up teams in 1989 and 1990. He finished second at 118 lbs at the 1990 NCAA Championships after an undefeated season. As a member of the United States wrestling team, he competed all over the world and is recognized as one of the top wrestlers at 114.5 pounds. His list of accomplishments include a silver medal in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, a gold medal at the 1994 Goodwill Games in St. Petersburg, Russia, and a first-place finish at the 1991 World Freestyle Wrestling championships in Bulgaria.
The four-time World Cup gold medalist (1989-1991, 1994, 1995) is a six-time U.S. Open National freestyle champion (1989-91, 1993-94, 1997) and ranked No. 1 in the United States for seven-straight years (1989-95). He is one of only two Americans to be honored as the "Most Technical Wrestler in the World" by FILA, the Federation for International Wrestling.
Jones is a former member of the United States Olympic Committee Board of Directors, the USA Wrestling Board of Directors and was the Chairman of the Athletes Advisory Council for USA Wrestling. He was also the founder and head coach of the Sunkist Kids National Training Program at WVU and currently is a coach of the Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club.
Jones and his family, wife Renee, and children Jessica, David and Rebecca, look forward to joining the Penn Wrestling family.
Jones and the Penn wrestling team will kick off the 2005-06 campaign on Nov. 12 at SUNY Brockport-Oklahoma Gold Classic in Brockport, N.Y., followed by the 11th annual Keystone Classic held at The Palestra on Nov. 20.