USA Wrestling In the house on Satu...

In the house on Saturday: Olympians, World medalists, college coaches galore on Fargodome floor

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | July 13, 2019, 1:46 p.m. (ET)

Olympic wrestler and UFC star Ben Askren was busy coaching Team Wisconsin this morning in Fargo. Photo by John Sachs,
As has been a tradition in’s coverage of the U.S. Marine Corps Junior and U16 Nationals, our staff and a team of others is keeping track of all of the wrestling celebrities who are seen down on the floor of the Fargodome.

One of the first popular stars seen in the house was 2008 Olympian Ben Askren, a coach with Team Wisconsin. Askren, who won two NCAA titles for Missouri, is a prominent MMA fighter, now with the UFC. Askren recently agreed to wrestle Olympic and four-time World champion Jordan Burroughs in the sold-out Beat the Streets Benefit in the Madison Square Garden Hulu Theater this spring, a huge event that promoted our sport. Askren is a top youth club coach and has coached with the Badger RTC recently, in addition to his UFC fighting duties.

If you thought you saw two Askrens on the Fargo floor, you did, as his brother Max Askren, an NCAA champion for Mizzou himself, was also coaching Team Wisconsin.

You didn’t have to look far to see other Olympians in the corner, helping coach kids in either the 16U men’s freestyle or 16U Women’s freestyle event. The big guy who saw helping coach Team Ohio was two-time freestyle Olympian and World medalist Tervel Dlagnev. He won NCAA titles for Div. II Nebraska-Kearney.

Another two-time Olympian, this time in Greco-Roman, was also a World medalist is Shawn Sheldon, a coach with Team Florida. Sheldon was a college star at the University at Albany (then SUNY-Albany). Another Olympian who was seen in the Dome is Dan Dennis, a coach of Team Tennessee. Dennis was a star at Iowa, and made the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team in freestyle.

2015 World medalist in women’s freestyle, Leigh Jaynes, was busy coaching women with Team New Jersey. Another past Senior World Team member from the women’s program out there coaching for her native Illinois was Veronica Carlson.

On the men’s side, another past Senior World Team member who was sighted was Tom Erikson, who is coaching with Arkansas. Erikson, who was an Oklahoma State star, is also head coach for the men’s team at Lyon College.

There were many other coaches in attendance, a list which we will add to substantially throughout the week. Among the NCAA Div. I head coaches we saw as state-level coaches were Jeremy Spates of SIU-Edwardsville, who is coaching with Team Illinois, and Princeton head coach Chris Ayres, who was coaching with Team New Jersey.

There are head college coaches from other divisions who were seen during session one, in addition to Erikson, including Alex Radsky of Washington and Lee.

There are also a bunch of women’s college head coaches helping their state teams. We visited with Brandy Green of Limestone (who is coaching South Carolina), Carlene Sluberski of the University of Providence (coaching with Montana), Sam Schmitz of McKendree (coaching with Alaska) and Donnie Stephens of the University of the Cumberlands (working with Team Kentucky).

There are a ton of assistant college coaches here, and we will begin to compile that list for Sunday.

It was also nice to see former USA Wrestling Women’s Assistant National Coach Emma Randall, who is working with the girls from New York. Randall is currently working with Beat the Streets in New York City.

We will spend the second session tonight adding to this list, and will come back with a big update on Sunday.