West Virginia Wrestling

June 19, 2014

Meet and Greet - New WVU Head Wrestling Coach Sammie Henson

New WVU Head Wrestling Coach Sammie Henson was on hand for a Meet and Greet event at Morgantown Thursday evening.

Henson, age 43, a native of St Louis MO, was named to replace Coach Craig Turnbull last month, ending Turnbull's 36 year tenure at that post.

Henson graduated from Francis Howell High School in St. Charles, MO, and spent his collegiate years at Missouri, where he was a Big Eight Champion and All-American for Missouri in 1991. He then transferred to Clemson, where he became a two-time NCAA Champion, finishing his career with a 71-0 record. He was named as Clemson's Male Athlete of the Year in 1994 and was inducted into the Clemson Athletics Hall of Fame in 2000. Henson returned to Missouri in 1995 to earn a degree in parks, recreation and tourism management.

Henson's resume as a competitor includes...

2000 Silver Medal 55 kg Sydney Australia

2006 Bronze Medal 55kg Guanzgoua , China
2005 DNP 55kg Budapest , Hungary
1998 Gold Medal 54kg Islamic Republic of Iran

1999 Silver Medal 54kg Spokane , WA USA
1997 Silver Medal 54kg Stillwater , OK USA

1998 Silver Medal 54kg New York City , NY USA
1998 Gold Medal Team New York City , NY USA

1993 Silver Medal 57kg Venezuela

1988 Junior World Team 52kg Austria

2005 Bronze Medal 55kg Siberia , Russia
2000 Gold Medal 54kg Siberia , Russia

2005 Gold Medal 55kg Cuba
2003 Gold Medal 55kg Cuba
2000 Silver Medal 57kg Cuba

2005 Gold Medal 55kg Minsk , Russia

2003 Gold Medal 55kg Canada
2001 Gold Medal 55kg Canada

2003 Gold Medal 55kg Colorado Springs , CO USA
2005 Silver Medal 55kg Anakara, Turkey
2001 Gold Medal 55kg Anakara , Turkey
1999 Gold Medal 55kg Anakara , Turkey
1997 Gold Medal 55kg Anakara , Turkey

2001 Gold Medal 55kg Poland

1998 Bronze Medal 54kg Ukraine

1997 Silver Medal 54kg Uzbekistan

1996 Bronze Medal 57kg Nice, France

2000 Gold Medal 57kg New York , NY USA

2004 Silver Medal 55kg Indianapolis , IN
2000 Gold Medal 54kg Dallas , TX
1992 Silver Medal (Mini Tourney 52kg)
1988 Olympic Qualifier 52kg Penscola , FL

2005 Gold Medal
2004 Silver Medal
2000 Gold Medal
1998 Gold Medal
1997 Silver Medal
1995 4th Place
1990 Gold Medal 52kg (Greco Roman)
1988 4th Place 52kg (Greco Roman)

In his 17 years of coaching experience, Henson has coached 20 All-Americans and five NCAA national champions.

Henson comes to WVU from Missouri, where he spent the last two seasons as head assistant coach. In two seasons at Missouri, he assisted in producing the No. 2-ranked recruiting class in the nation in 2013 in addition to leading the Tigers to two consecutive conference titles and seven All-America finishes, including one national champion this past season.

Prior to Missouri, Henson was the assistant head coach at Oklahoma from 2009-11. While there, he helped secure the No. 2 recruiting class in the country, coached seven wrestlers to All-America status at the NCAA Championships and helped the program become the top academic squad in the Big 12 during his tenure.

Prior to his stint with Oklahoma, Henson served as the head assistant at Cal Poly (2007-09), volunteer assistant at Nebraska (2006-07), along with stops as an assistant at Army (2002-03) and Penn State (2000-02).

Along with collegiate coaching, Henson is also the current head coach for the Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club, which has more current world and Olympic wrestlers than any other wrestling club in the United States.

Henson, whose salary at WVU will start at $110,000 and run through at least June 2017 with the possibility of a two-year extension, is on board with WVU with palpable enthusiasm and optimism.

"My family and I are excited to be here," notes Henson. "We feel blessed to be here, we consider this our home." Henson's family, including wife Stephanie, and son Jackson (who will be wrestling at University High School this year), son Wyatt age 11, and daughters Ruby Jo age 10 and Georgia Kate age 6, will be joining him in Morgantown in the coming days.

Henson notes that most of the current WVU squad is in town working out on their own with strength and conditioning and open mats. Of course, in compliance with NCAA rules, contact with the coach is restricted at present as is recruiting - the new coach will not be able to begin recruiting until July 1. However, Henson notes that he has already had unbelievable response from some of the best kids in the country, calling and making inquiries about the WVU program. In addition, WVU is soon to be named a National Olympic Training Facility. In conjunction with Henson's role as Coach of Sunkist Kids, there are two or three Sunkist kids already in Morgantown this summer training. WVU fans may also expect the announcement of at least two transfers to the WVU program in coming weeks.

Regarding his staff: Fans may look for an announcement soon, as the routine process of paperwork and background checks are currently being completed.

"We are willing to do whatever it takes to build the relationship (between West Virginia Coaches and fans). I think in the long run it's going to help you (high school coaches) in growing our sport and making it stronger in the state. I'd rather recruit a West Virginia kid than anybody else."

Asked what adjustments in technique wrestlers often need to make in the transition from high school to college, Henson noted "top/bottom wrestling on the mat" and the fact that riding time counts in collegiate wrestling. "A lot of kids have a hard time getting out on bottom and they also have a hard time understanding the concept of riding to turn and keeping opponent down. A turn can be three points and changes the whole match." Henson goes on to note that "every national champion I have known can ride and turn and is tremendous on top."

"On your feet, kids need to work on finishes. In college, once you get the leg, that's only half the battle and now the war's on. In college, once you get the leg you might be the one taken down."

Advice for the high school wrestler wishing to progress to the collegiate level: "They need to work in the fundamentals - finishes and set-ups. "How do you get to the leg and how you finish." Regarding training at the collegiate level, "I think it's a year-round commitment. I all comes down to how hard you want to work and how much comitment you want to put in to it. Strength training is huge - year round."

Strength vs. Technique? - "Technique, I think everybody has. I use position wrestling - and what I mean by that is if I can hold my position longer than you I'm going to be able to get to my attacks and I'm going to be able to score on you. Olympic wrestlers, they are in great position all the time. It's the little things that matter.

Of further interest to fans (and former WVU wrestlers) is a "Blue and Old" match to be scheduled for October 17 in Morgantown. This will pit former WVU wrestlers in 3 minute exhibition matches. "It's going to be a fun event. I did it in Missouri, and it is a blast." A social event will be held in conjunction with the event, and WVU will entertain Baylor on the gridiron the next day. Former WVU wrestlers who may wish to be part of the event should contact current assistant Coach Danny Felix at danny.felix@mail.wvu.edu.

Via BlueGoldNews.com

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Next: Q &A with Coach Henson

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