Pat Santoro of Lehigh named NWCA Division I Coach of the Year

By NWCA | March 13, 2018, 9:22 p.m. (ET)
Pat Santoro of Lehigh (left) coaching Darian Cruz to a 2017 NCAA title. Photo by Tony Rotundo, Wrestlers Are Warriors

Lehigh’s Pat Santoro named Theraworx NWCA Division I Coach of the Year

Manheim, Pennsylvania -- The National Wrestling Coaches Association and Theraworx are pleased to announce Lehigh University head wrestling coach Pat Santoro as the recipient of the Theraworx NWCA Division I Coach of the Year for 2017-18.

Santoro helped lead the Mountain Hawks to its first EIWA conference championship in 12 years and his first at the helm in Bethlehem. Santoro has been named the EIWA Coach of the Year on four different occasions, including this season.

“The job that Pat Santoro does, not just in teaching the sport of wrestling and recruiting, but as a leader of young people truly exemplifies what the title of coach means,” said NWCA Executive Director Mike Moyer. “He’s been a winner on the mat and everywhere he’s coached and he’s done it by developing wrestlers and not only building on their strengths as athletes, but building their character as individuals.”

An assistant at Lehigh before taking his first head coaching job at Maryland, Santoro quickly built the Terps into a nationally respected program, producing multiple All-Americans. He was the ACC Coach of the Year in 2008, leading Maryland to its first ACC championship in 35 years. When the head coaching position opened up just miles from where he grew up in the Lehigh Valley, he jumped at the chance to return.

This season saw Lehigh spend most of the season ranked in the Top 10 and its highlight matches were a win over then-No. 4 Michigan and a PPL Center dual against top-ranked Penn State which drew a school-record 9,896 fans.

“What makes Coach Santoro such a great fit with the Lehigh community are his roots and his energy,” said Moyer. “He’s calculating but he also knows when to jump on an opportunity to showcase the sport of wrestling. We see that with how well wrestling draws at the iconic Grace Hall and how Lehigh shows up for big duals at Stabler and now, the PPL Center.”

A two-time NCAA Division I champion at Pittsburgh despite never having won a high school state championship, Santoro has mentored two NCAA champions and 11 wrestlers to 20 All-American finishes at the NCAA Division I Championships.

Santoro has also taken leadership roles within the sport serving as a past NWCA Board Member and mentor for the NWCA CEO Leadership Training Program.

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Finalists
Scott Moore – Lock Haven (EWL)
JohnMark Bentley – Appalachian State (SoCon)
Brian Smith – Missouri (MAC)
David Bolyard - Eastern Michigan (MAC)
Mark Branch – Wyoming (Big 12)
Tom Ryan – Ohio State (Big Ten)
Pat Santoro – Lehigh (EIWA)
Tony Robie – Virginia Tech (ACC)
Pat Popolizio – NC State (ACC)