PHILADELPHIA - First-year University of Pennsylvania Wrestling Coach Zeke Jones has been named Rookie Coach of the Year by Amateur Wrestling News.
Jones lifted the Quakers to a school-record 51 points and a 12th-place finish at the NCAA Championships, and produced NCAA champion Matt Valenti at 133 pounds. The Penn season included an 11-5 dual record, a first-place finish at the Keystone Classic, second place at the Oklahoma Gold and a top-10 finish at Las Vegas.
Penn jumped from fifth in the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) tournament in 2005 to third in 2006, and missed out on second place by just 1.5 points.
"This honor is not really an individual honor but truly a team honor," said Jones. "Whenever we do something individually, it reflects the team as a whole. They did the work."
Jones produced two All-Americans in Valenti and Matt Herrington, who placed fifth at NCAAs at 174 pounds. Both return next season along with NCAA qualifying rookies Cesar Grajales (141 lbs) and Matt Dragon (149 lbs). Dragon earned the No. 12 NCAA seed and finished with a 32-9 record.
Jones coached Valenti to a 36-2 mark -- tying a school mark -- and just the third national championship in the program’s history.
Before Penn, Jones was assistant coach at West Virginia for seven years. He was also the top assistant at Arizona State from 1993-1998. His coaching career started in 1990 at Bloomsburg University.
As an athlete, Jones wrestled for Arizona State and earned All-America honors three times finishing sixth, fourth and second from 1988 to 1990. His career however would take off in the international wrestling. Jones was ranked as the top U.S. wrestler at 114.5 pounds between 1989 and 1997. He made the World team eight years in a row winning the World freestyle championship in 1991 and earning the Olympic silver medal in 1992. He also added a bronze medal in 1995 and finished fourth in 1990 and 1993.