#ThrowbackThursday: Two-time Olympian and 2003 World silver medalist Kerry McCoy

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | Feb. 07, 2019, 2:20 p.m. (ET)
Image of Kerry McCoy of the United States, competing at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.

Kerry McCoy was a successful athlete at every level of the sport, and developed into one of the greatest heavyweight athletes in U.S. wrestling history. McCoy was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2014 and continues to impact the sport as a respected coach and leader.

McCoy attended one of the strongest high school teams in New York, when he was a star for Longwood High School on Long Island. Mentored by legendary coach Mike Picozzi, McCoy was a state high school champion as a senior and a state runner-up as a junior. He also began to make an impact in international wrestling when he won a 1992 Junior World title, and was second in the 1990 Cadet World Championships.

He went to Penn State, where he started his career at 190 pounds, then moved up to heavyweight in his second season. During his three years at the highest weight class, McCoy won two NCAA titles and was third once, losing just one time in his 136 matches as a college heavyweight.

Trivia Question: Who were the two athletes Kerry McCoy beat in the NCAA Championships finals? McCoy won his titles in 1994 and in 1997.
(Answer at the bottom of this story)

While in college, McCoy was already making an impact in Senior-level freestyle, placing as high as second at the 1996 and 1997 U.S. Open and finishing third at the 1996 U.S. Olympic Team Trials during his redshirt year. Once he was finished with college, he focused entirely on his international career. He made his first U.S. Senior World Team in 1998, when he finished fourth in the World Championships,

In 2000, McCoy defeated reigning World champion Stephen Neal to win the U.S. Olympic Team Trials and qualify for the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, where he placed fifth. McCoy was the No. 1 heavyweight in the USA for the next Olympic four-year cycle, making three straight Senior World Teams and also earning a spot on the 2004 Olympic Team which competed in Athens, Greece. He won five straight U.S. Open titles and boasts gold medals from four World Cups, plus the 2003 Pan American Games and two Pan American Championships.

McCoy’s top international performance came at the 2003 World Championships in historic Madison Square Garden in New York City, where he won the World silver medal, competing just a short distance from where he grew up and in front of many hometown family, friends and fans. In his last major international competition, McCoy placed seventh in the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Click here for Kerry McCoy’s Hall of Fame biography

McCoy has also had a tremendous impact as a coach. While pursuing his Olympic goals, McCoy served as an assistant coach at both Penn State and Lehigh. His first head coaching position came at Stanford University, where he served three years and helped improve the Cardinal program. He was hired as the head coach at Maryland in May 2008, where he continues to lead the Terrapin program. When Maryland was in the ACC, it won three ACC titles under McCoy. He has led Maryland’s transition into the powerful Big Ten Conference in recent seasons. In addition, he served as an official U.S. Olympic Team Coach in freestyle wrestling at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

Leadership has always been a part of McCoy’s life, going back to his early years in the sport. While a Penn State student, McCoy served as the President of the Student Athlete Advisory Board at Penn State, as well as the Chairperson for the NCAA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. He served as an athlete-leader for both USA Wrestling and the U.S. Olympic Committee. A long-time member of USA Wrestling’s Board of Directors and its Executive Committee, McCoy currently serves as the Secretary of USA Wrestling, an officer position that he was elected to in 2018.

Trivia question answer: McCoy defeated Justin Greenlee of Northern Iowa in the finals of the 1994 NCAA Championships by a 7-4 score. In the 1997 NCAA Championship finals, McCoy defeated Stephen Neal of Cal-State Bakersfield by a 3-2 margin.