Tony DeAnda named first women's wrestling coach at the University of Great Falls

By University of Great Falls | May 16, 2017, 2:07 p.m. (ET)
GREAT FALLS, Mont. – The next big step has been taken in building the brand new Lady Argo wrestling program. After announcing in January that the school would be adding the first collegiate women's wrestling program in the state of Montana, the University of Great Falls has hired former University of Jamestown Head Women's Wrestling Coach, Celso "Tony" DeAnda, as the program's first head coach.

"We have high hopes for this program and wanted to make sure we hired the right person to build it from the ground up. Through the process it became clear that Tony's experience, character, personality, and fit with the University's mission made him an excellent overall fit," UGF Vice President for Athletics, Dave Gantt said. "He has already proven he can lead a successful, reputable college women's wrestling team, and with his coaching experience, this program can have an instant impact on the national stage."

For the past six years, DeAnda has built a national power at Jamestown. Since he took over the program in 2011, the Jimmies have had 16 WCWA All-Americans, including 2016 National Runner-Up Amy Fearnside. Not only has he successfully coached individuals, but he has built team success as well at Jamestown. Since 2011, the program has finished in the top 10 at the WCWA National Tournament every year but one, and since 2013 the program has a 17-7-1 record in duals.

The Jimmies have also been successful in the classroom under DeAnda's guidance, with six WCWA Scholar-Athletes.

"I'm excited to start a program from scratch. There is obviously two sides to that, but I see it as a chance to create something great," DeAnda said about joining UGF. "I think the location of being close to the west coast, and being able to get recruits from California, Oregon, and Washington is going to be a good pitch. I think the town is a great size, and the wrestling community in Great Falls is tremendous which for any wrestling coach is a dream come true."

Before coaching at Jamestown, DeAnda spent six years as an Assistant Women's Freestyle Wrestling Coach at the United States Olympic Education Center for USA Wrestling. During his time with USA Wrestling, he coached two Cadet Pan-AM Championship teams, two Junior Pan-Am Championship teams, one Youth Olympic Games Pan-Am Championship team, and one Senior Pan-Am Championship team. He also coached 2008 Olympic Bronze Medalist, Randi Miller and conducted an Olympic Solidarity Coaches Seminar for the International Olympic Committee in Guayaquil, Ecuador in 2010. Numerous athletes who were coached by DeAnda at the USOEC went on to make Senior World Teams and Women's National Teams later in their careers.

His coaching career began as a graduate assistant at Briarcliff University and then as an assistant at Lincoln East High School in Lincoln, Nebraska.

"I just want to thank UGF's VP for Athletics, Dave Gantt, I want to thank UGF President Tony Aretz, Caleb Schaeffer, and the hiring committee for the opportunity to coach at UGF," DeAnda said. "It's a great opportunity, and I feel like it's going to be a great fit."

DeAnda also has a storied career in his own right as an athlete. His college career started at Augustana College where he was a two-time NCAA Division III All-American. He then transferred to NCAA Division I powerhouse, University of Nebraska, where he was a national qualifier. At the international level, he was a five time Mexican National Champion and placed at the U.S. Nationals three times. He was ranked in the top 10 in the USA from 2001-05, won a bronze medal at the 2003 Pan American Games and was the 2005 Real Pro Wrestling National Champion.

DeAndra holds a bachelors' degree in Spanish from the University of Nebraska with a minor in Latin American Studies.