WEST POINT, N.Y. – Kevin Ward, who turned a wrestling program built from scratch at Ouachita Baptist University into a national contender, has been named Army’s new head wrestling coach, Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Boo Corrigan announced today.
Ward, the 2014 NCAA Division II Coach of the Year, becomes the 10th head coach in program history.
“We are very excited to welcome Kevin to West Point,” said Corrigan. “We had a tremendous pool of candidates and Kevin’s success building a program, his leadership and passion made him our top choice. Kevin blew away me and the search committee when he visited. He is an overachiever that knows how to win. His accomplishments as a coach are many. We look forward to working with him in this next chapter of our wrestling program.”
“I am honored to be selected as the next head wrestling coach at West Point,” said Ward. “I would like to express my appreciation to Boo Corrigan and the search committee for giving me this opportunity. It’s quite a privilege to lead such a proud program with as much tradition as Army wrestling. The cadet-athletes at West Point are the best of the best, and I look forward helping develop them as leaders of character in the United States Army and champions on the wrestling mat. Army wrestling is in a great spot with a nationally ranked recruiting class coming in and multiple NCAA Qualifiers on the team. We will continue to look for and recruit wrestlers who truly want to be leaders of character and have goals of winning NCAA titles. I am ready to get to work and continue to build on the proud tradition of Army wrestling”
As the first and only head coach of Ouachita Baptist’s wrestling program, Ward led the Tigers to top-15 finishes at the NCAA Tournament in each of the last three seasons. Ward coached 10 All-Americans and two NCAA finalists, Dallas Smith and Josh Myers, during his time at Ouachita.
Ward was named the NCAA Division II Coach of the Year after guiding the Tigers to a fourth-place finish at the NCAAs and an 8-5 dual match record last season. Five of Ward’s wrestlers claimed All-America honors in 2014, including Myers, who was the national runner-up at the 141-pound weight class.
“I would also like to thank the many great people, and, most importantly, the student-athletes I was fortunate enough to coach at Ouachita Baptist University,” said Ward. “Without their hard work and discipline, none of this would have been made possible. They are a great group of young men and we wish them the very best.”
After the program’s inaugural 2010-11 campaign, Ward coached three All-Americans and steered the Tigers to a 15th-place showing at the NCAA Tournament the following season. The program took another step forward during the 2012-13 season with its first-ever national runner-up in Smith, while the team placed 12th overall at the NCAAs.
Ward was also a major factor in fundraising for the wrestling squad. He helped raise more than $300,000 in donations to the up-and-coming program during his four-year stint. Over his first two months at Ouachita, Ward led the renovation effort of the team’s weight room, which hadn’t been updated in nearly 30 years.
An accomplished wrestler at Oklahoma State, Ward started his coaching career as a graduate assistant with the Cowboys during the 2006-07 season, while earning his master’s degree in health and human performance. He assisted legendary head coach John Smith with drill sessions and preparing the team for competitions, as well as coaching at open tournaments.
Oklahoma State posted a 14-5 overall record and took third place at the Big 12 Championships with Ward on staff. The Cowboys placed fifth at the NCAA Championships and had four All-Americans, including two national runner-ups, Coleman Scott and Johny Hendricks.
As a member of one of the most storied programs in the country, Ward had a tremendous amount of success as a wrestler at Oklahoma State. Ward was on four NCAA National Championship teams (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006) and two undefeated squads (2002-03 and 2004-05).
In 2005, Ward beat three opponents to grab the Big 12 title at the 157-pound weight class. He won 12 of his first 14 matches that season and posted a 23-12 record overall. Ward returned to the conference championship the following season, earning a runner-up finish.
Ward qualified for the NCAA Tournament twice and was a three-time National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) Academic All-American. The Cowboys won four Big 12 championships in a row during Ward’s time in Stillwater. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sociology.
Along with his coaching duties over the years, Ward has served on the NWCA Executive Committee and Board of Directors, as well as handling the role of Vice President-elect of the Division II Coaches Association.
Ward and his wife Hannah will reside at West Point.