NWCA recognizes Oklahoma's Nick Williams, Ohio's John Heffernan as NWCA Scholastic Coaches of the Year

By NWCA | May 04, 2018, 3:20 p.m. (ET)

Manheim, Pennsylvania – The National Wrestling Coaches Association has announced its annual scholastic coaching award winners for 2017-18.

Recently retired Altus (Oklahoma) High School head coach Nick Williams has been named the NWCA Scholastic Coach of the Year while and longtime St. Edward (Ohio) High School assistant John Heffernan has been named the NWCA Scholastic Assistant Coach of the Year.

Williams and Heffernan were chosen from the eight section winners, which come from each state’s respective coaches association.

Williams spent 20 years as a high school wrestling coach, the last 15 at Altus, which finished sixth at the Oklahoma 5A state wrestling championships and fourth in the state’s dual meet championships. While winning a state championship isn’t a prerequisite to win such an award, Williams led his team, coaching from a wheelchair after being diagnosed with ALS in March of 2017. The community responded by dedicating the Nick Williams Wrestling Center within Altus Public Schools in May of 2017.

“So much of being a great coach is being there for your student-athletes,” said NWCA Executive Director Mike Moyer. “In this case, we didn’t just have a coach battling a debilitating affliction, but we had wrestlers and a community battling with him. It’s a true testament to what this coach means to the school and the community at large.”

Williams was also presented the Gallagher Award by Oklahoma State University and has continued to fight for the sport of wrestling. He’s also maintained his place in supporting the Oklahoma Wrestling Coaches Association, serving as its vice president.

Two Altus alums competed at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships this past season in Cleveland – Northern Colorado’s Keilan Torres and 133-pound All-American Montorie Bridges of Wyoming.

St. Edward is one of the most iconic wrestling programs in the nation. Dominance was instilled by former coach Howard Ferguson and carried on to current coach Greg Urbas, who’s had John Heffernan as his assistant for the past 27 years.

Heffernan’s reputation as one of the best technical coaches in the country is evidenced by the long line of state champions, national champions and All-Americans coming out of the Lakewood, Ohio school. St. Edward also has one of the nation’s most unique streaks, as an alum has placed at the NCAA Division I Championships every year since 1991. That streak was extended by Michigan’s Dom Abounader this season. Across all NCAA Divisions, St. Edward wrestlers have earned All-American honors every year since 1982, including Heffernan, who was a two-time All-American at Iowa.

All told, he’s helped coach St. Edward to 21 state championships, 75 individual state champions and 16 different wrestlers to 40 All-American medals at the NCAA championships, including national champions Dean Heil of Oklahoma State and Ryan Bertin of Michigan.

“Let’s just look at that run of All-Americans at the Division I level and the foundations they’ve been taught by coach Heffernan,” said Moyer. “You really can’t put into words his level of success. He could probably win this award every year.”

Other NWCA Section Coach of the Year Award winners were: Section 1: Carmine Colace (Franklin, Mass.), Section 2: Brian Shaffer (Battlefield, Va.), Section 3: Jake Stewart (Bamberg-Ehrhardt, S.C.), Section 4: Tom Hogan (Don Bosco, Iowa), Section 5: Doug Vander Linden (Burlington, Kan.), Section 7: Mike Ripplinger (Box Elder, Utah) and Jeff Welsing (Yuma, Ariz.), Section 8: Matt Jorgensen (Deer Park, Wash.).

Winners along with Heffernan for the NWCA Section Assistant Coach of the Year were: Section 1: Tony Napolitano (Portland, Maine), Section 3: Pat Holcomb (North Hall, Ga.), Section 4: Tim Coolidge (Eaton Rapids, Mich.), Section 5: Jay Meneely (Millard South, Neb.), Section 6: James Garcia (Brighton, Colo.), Section 7: Chris Hardy (Box Elder, Utah) and Davy Miller (Liberty, Ariz.), Section 8: Todd Slater (East Valley, Wash.).

State Head Coaches of the Year

Section Coach Name School State
Section 1 Carmine Colace Franklin MA
Section 1 John Furgeson Damascus MD
Section 1 Scott Preble Nokomis ME
Section 1 Dan Smith Watchung Hills Regional NJ
Section 1 Darren C. Goldstein Rocky Point NY
Section 1 Brian Coon Mount Anthony Union VT
Section 2 Michael Ransaw Benjamin Russell AL
Section 2 John Roth Walton Verona KY
Section 2 Mark Marinelli Olentangy Liberty OH
Section 2 Casey Taylor Reynolds PA
Section 2 Brian Shaffer Battlefield VA
Section 2 Shaun Smith Parkersburg South WV
Section 3 Danny Walker Lake Gibson FL
Section 3 Joey Di Nino Ola GA
Section 3 Ben Watson Mooresville NC
Section 3 Jake Stewart Bamberg-Ehrhardt SC
Section 3 Jimmy Miller Science Hill TN
Section 4 Tom Hogan Don Bosco IA
Section 4 Mark Hahn Glenbard North IL
Section 4 Chris Cooper Columbus East IN
Section 4 Jerry LaJoie Gaylor MI
Section 5 Doug Vander Linden Burlington KS
Section 5 Jamie Heidt Kasson-Mantorville MN
Section 5 Charlie Sherertz Whitfield MO
Section 5 Dustin Nagel Hillsboro Central Valley ND
Section 5 Shane Allison Valentine NE
Section 5 Jeremy Swenson Canton SD
Section 6 Cole Alison Grand Junction CO
Section 6 Nick Williams Altus OK
Section 6 Vinnie Lowe Katy TX
Section 7 Jeff Welsing Yuma AZ
Section 7 Greg Varela Gilroy CA
Section 7 Mike Ripplinger Box Elder UT
Section 7 Thad Trukillo Cheyenne East WY
Section 8 Troy Thain Craig AK
Section 8 Kevin Corbett Leilehua HI
Section 8 Kevin Glider Sugar Salem ID
Section 8 Guy Melby Sidney MT
Section 8 Jake Huffman Crook County OR
Section 8 Matt Jorgensen Deer Park WA


State Assistant Coaches of the Year

Section Coach Name School State
Section 1 Joe Killo Mt Hebron MD
Section 1 Tony Napolitano Portland ME
Section 1 Bill Romano Mt. Olive NJ
Section 1 Eric Mullen Canandaigua Academy NY
Section 1 Matt Thurston Spaulding VT
Section 2 Riley Pike Thompson AL
Section 2 Jason Moore Walton Verona KY
Section 2 John Hefferman St. Edward OH
Section 2 Michael Hills Reynolds PA
Section 2 Ian Squires St. Christopher’s VA
Section 2 John Dempsey Huntington WV
Section 3 Jake Campbell Tampa Prep FL
Section 3 Pat Holcolmb North Hall GA
Section 3 Richard Hoffman St. Stephen’s NC
Section 3 John Hiers Bamberg-Ehrhardt SC
Section 3 Justin Anglin Bradley Central TN
Section 4 Carl Harvey Rochelle Township IL
Section 4 Mike Poppe Garrett IN
Section 4 Tim Coolidge Eaton Rapids MI
Section 5 JD Hand Augusta KS
Section 5 Al Flynn Scott West MN
Section 5 Buddy Smith Whitfield MO
Section 5 Nick Timm Kenmare Bowbells ND
Section 5 Jay Meneely Millard South NE
Section 5 Jeremy Ask Canton SD
Section 6 James Garcia Brighton CO
Section 6 Will Delk Piedmont OK
Section 6 Huey Huynh Southlake Carroll TX
Section 7 Davy Miller Liberty AZ
Section 7 Gilroy Assistant Coaches Gilroy CA
Section 7 Chris Hardy Box Elder UT
Section 8 Randy Hanson South Anchorage AK
Section 8 Corey Taniguchi Leilehua HI
Section 8 Ty Graves Sidney MT
Section 8 Rick Jordan Dallas OR
Section 8 Todd Slater East Valley WA