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WRESTLING: Zeke Jones selected to head USA Wrestling freestyle program after being named National Coach

Sept. 29, 2008, 12:15 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Zeke Jones, one of the best lightweight wrestlers in U.S. history, is prepared to make a king-sized impact as the leader of the American freestyle program.

Jones, a past World champion, Olympic silver medalist and Olympic Team coach, has been named the new National Freestyle Coach by USA Wrestling.

Jones replaces Kevin Jackson, who resigned his position on Friday to become head coach with the Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club.

Jones, 41, comes to Colorado Springs after spending the past three seasons as the head coach at the University of Pennsylvania. Jones coached Penn's Matt Valenti to back-to-back NCAA titles in 2006 and 2007.

Jones was an Olympic Freestyle Coach for the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team, which competed in Athens, Greece. The U.S. won three medals in Athens, with a gold by Cael Sanderson and silvers by Stephen Abas and Jamill Kelly.

"The opportunity to lead the United States wrestling team is truly an honor and a privilege," Jones said. "The U.S. is in a position to achieve its goals. A well thought out, collective plan will be critical to our success. I look forward to the opportunity of leading our team and our country."

Jones served as head coach for the American team at the 2001 World Championships. The U.S. placed fifth in the team standings and featured a pair of silver medalists. Jones was the head coach for a pair of U.S. teams that won championships at the World Cup. He was named National Freestyle Coach of the Year by USA Wrestling. He has made numerous contributions as the head coach with the Sunkist Kids.

Jones was head coach of the 2003 Pan American Games team, which won the team title and captured four individual gold medals. He also was on the U.S. coaching staff for the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games. Among the athletes he coached were 1996 Olympic gold medalist Kendall Cross and 2000 Olympic silver medalist Sammie Henson.

"USA Wrestling now begins a new chapter with our National Freestyle Program," USA Wrestling Executive Director Rich Bender said. "Zeke Jones brings a knowledge base and skill set that will serve him and the program very well. We are excited to welcome Zeke and his wife, Renee, and their children, to the USA Wrestling Family. USA Wrestling is very grateful to Kevin Jackson and his family for their years of service to USA Wrestling and our sport. We have set the level of expectation very high and we are confident that Zeke will be up to the task."

Bender said Terry Brands will have an expanded role with the U.S. freestyle program. Brands will continue as USA Wrestling's Freestyle Resident Coach and will work closely with Jones in Brands' new role as Assistant National Coach.

Jones had an outstanding career as a wrestler at the international level. He won a gold medal at the 1991 World Championships. Jones also claimed a silver medal at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain. He added a bronze medal at the 1995 World Championships. He placed fourth in the 1990 and 1993 World Championships. He was a member of the U.S. squads that won World team titles in 1993 and 1995.

Jones, a four-time World Cup champion, is a Distinguished Member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. Jones was voted "World's Most Technical Wrestler" by FILA.

Jones wrestled on the 1988 NCAA Championship team at Arizona State, where he was a NCAA finalist and was a three-time All-American for the Sun Devils. He was top-ranked freestyle wrestler in the USA while still competing in college and was the No. 1 ranked wrestler for seven straight years.

Jones is originally from Ann Arbor, Mich., where he was a state high school champion, a three-time Junior National All-American and a Dream Team selection by Wrestling USA..

Jones and his wife, Renee, have four children, Jessica, David, Rebecca and Jacob.