Matt Lindland named USA Wrestling National Greco-Roman Coach

By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling | May 20, 2014, 3:50 p.m. (ET)
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – USA Wrestling has named Matt Lindland of Gresham, Ore. as its National Greco-Roman Coach.

Lindland, a 2000 Olympic silver medalist and 2001 World silver medalist as a Greco-Roman athlete, will lead the U.S. Greco-Roman national program, coaching the nation’s elite Greco-Roman athletes and guiding the development of the program at all levels.

He replaces Steve Fraser, who served as National Greco-Roman coach for more than 18 years, and has moved to a newly created position in the National Teams Department as Chief of Donor and Alumni Relations.

“We are excited to have Matt join our staff at USA Wrestling. As one of our greatest warriors in U.S. Greco Roman history, Matt will bring that same tenacity and drive to recruiting, preparing, and leading our best and brightest into World and Olympic competition. After an extensive process, Matt separated himself as the obvious choice to design and direct this program into the future. The U.S. Greco Roman program took a big step forward today,” said USA Wrestling Executive Director Rich Bender.

“For me, it is an honor to serve in this capacity. If there was any position I ever wanted, it would be to lead USA Wrestling in the Olympic Games and World Championships, and help our team win medals. My goal is to win Olympic medals and prepare our athletes to execute at the most important tournaments. When I get into the position, I will have a better idea of what goals to set for this Olympic cycle and into the future. I want to get us back to where we are the best team in the world again,” said Lindland.

“Matt has been very involved in our program the last few years, coaching at both the Senior and developmental levels. I’ve been impressed with Matt’s coaching abilities on and off the mat. The athletes have given us very positive feedback about Matt’s coaching style. I look forward to working with Matt Lindland to put U.S. Greco-Roman at the top of the podium at the World Championships and Olympic Games,” said Les Gutches, USA Wrestling’s Associate Executive Director for Programs and Strategy.

Lindland, who is 44, becomes USA Wrestling’s fourth full-time National Greco-Roman Coach, following Dennis Koslowski (1988-1990), Mike Houck (1991-1995) and Steve Fraser (1995-2014) in the position.

Lindland has vast experience in Greco-Roman, both as a world-class athlete and a successful wrestling coach. In addition, he brings additional coaching experience in Mixed Martial Arts, where he was both a champion athlete and a coach for numerous successful athletes.

Most recently, Lindland served as World Team Coach for the 2013 U.S. Greco-Roman World Team which competed in Budapest, Hungary. He has coached U.S. tour teams which have competed in Poland twice and in Cuba. Lindland also coached at a number of Greco-Roman National Team Training camps in recent years.

He also has extensive experience coaching at the college level, serving as an assistant at the two colleges where he attended as a student-athlete.

In recent years, he has been a coach for Clackamas CC in Oregon, one of the nation’s top junior college teams, working with head coach Josh Rhoden. Clackamas won the NJCAA team title in 2011. This season, Clackamas won the National Duals title, placed third at the NJCAA Nationals and had a record seven All-Americans.

During his competitive career, Lindland served as an assistant coach at Nebraska from 1993-1996. During his time on the Cornhusker staff, Lindland coached NCAA champion Brad Vering and All-American Justin Ruiz, both who later went on to become World medalists in Greco-Roman for the United States. Four-time NCAA All-American Bryan Snyder was also a star athlete who competed under Lindland.

After retiring from wrestling in 2001, Lindland became a professional mixed martial arts athlete. Lindland was the top ranked Middleweight in MMA for a number of years. He also opened up his own successful gym, Team Quest, where he coached mixed martial arts athletes, as well as youth wrestlers in the Portland community. Over 20 athletes coached by Lindland became fighters in the UFC, and many others participated in other MMA organizations.

One of Lindland’s club athletes, Tarrance Williams, who also competes in Mixed Martial Arts, placed fourth at the 2014 U.S. Greco-Roman Open in Las Vegas, Nev.

“I am excited about working with our Senior-level athletes, the guys who represent our nation. My job is to help them to prepare and to work with their current coaches. It is all about getting them competition-ready and giving them the best tools for success. Many of these guys I have built relationships with, and I know their coaches. It will be a team effort. I will help them to set a game plan. It will be my job to facilitate opportunities for them and to hold them accountable,” said Lindland.

Lindland was one of the most successful Greco-Roman athletes in American history. He won a silver medal at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, competing at 76 kg/167.5 lbs. Lindland won five straight matches to earn a spot in the finals including a clutch 7-4 win over Armenia’s David Manukyan in the semifinals. He was edged in the gold-medal match by Russia’s Murat Kardanov, 3-0.

In 2001, Lindland went up a weight class to compete at to 85 kg/187 lbs. and had to beat top stars like Dan Henderson, Quincey Clark and Ethan Bosch to make the U.S. team. He won a silver medal at the 2001 World Championships, defeating Russia’s Alexander Menshikov, 5-2 in the semifinals. He was beaten in the finals by Mukhran Vakhrangadze of Georgia, 2-1 in overtime,

Lindland won the U.S. Open five times and was runner-up three times. He also made U.S. World Teams three straight years from 1997-1999, placing sixth in the 1998 Worlds. He won a gold medal at the 1999 Pan American Games, as well as the 1996 World Cup. Lindland won international events in Iran, Egypt, Poland and the United States.

He was one of the first set of athletes to become a U.S. Olympic Training Center Greco-Roman resident athletes in Colorado Springs, Colo., training there from 1993-1996.

A native of the Portland area, he was a two-time Oregon state medalist for Gladstone High School. Lindland went to Clackamas CC, where he was a 1991 NJCAA Junior College National champion. He transferred to the Univ. of Nebraska, where he was a top star for the Cornhusker team for two years, and was ranked No. 1 in the nation at his weight class his senior year.

In addition to competing and coaching in Mixed Martial Arts, Lindland was also a promoter for numerous MMA events. In that role, he embraced the new media and has been very successful in getting the word out about his events and his athletes. Lindland believes all disciplines of combat are related directly to wrestling.

“To me, it’s one and the same,” said Lindland. “Wrestling is the hardest part about MMA. Once you learn how to wrestle, you can learn the other techniques. Too many people want to get caught up in the differences. It is all grappling. I just call it wrestling. Submission wrestling, Greco, collegiate, jacket wrestling. It is all the same sport.”

He and wife Angie, have a son, James (21) and a daughter, Robin (19).

Lindland will actively work with college programs and Regional Training Centers to encourage their athletes to pursue Olympic dreams in Greco-Roman. His background as a college coach will help him develop the necessary relationships.

“Everyone agrees that we want to get blue-chip athletes into the Greco-Roman program. We have to show them that there is a way to have an Olympic opportunity in Greco-Roman. We will go after the best guys we can, the NCAA caliber athlete. We need to show the colleges and the Regional Training Centers that Greco-Roman will benefit their programs,” said Lindland.

He also respects the tradition of Greco-Roman within the U.S. military program, as well as the importance of the U.S. Olympic Training Center program in creating excellence for Greco-Roman Team USA.

“I would like to see top guys training at the Olympic Training Center. We also have so many great wrestlers in the military. We can work hand-in-hand together. We need a very competitive environment in our program. But, we also need to come together and win together as Team USA,” said Lindland.

Lindland loves the new rules of Greco-Roman wrestling, and believes that American wrestlers will perform well.

“A few years ago, I didn’t recognize the sport, and I didn’t understand it. It had changed that much. Now, it is what I know and the wrestling that I understand. It is how Greco-Roman wrestling should be. It has once again become chest-to-chest, heads up, combat fighting,” said Lindland.

He expects to have a flexible coaching style which will be personalized to the needs of specific athletes.

“I believe the athletes will dictate my coaching style. It will be based upon the athlete’s personal needs. I will treat them equally, but they will all be treated differently. The wrestlers have different styles and different needs. You have to help them succeed with what they have,” said Lindland.

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