MINNEAPOLIS - After 17 years in the Minnesota wrestling room, Gopher Wrestling Club (GWC) head coach Dustin Schlatter has decided to step down to pursue other opportunities outside of the sport, as announced by the club on Friday afternoon.
Since taking the helm of the regional training center in May 2018, Schlatter helped lead GWC to its first Olympic gold medalist and first World Team member, and has had at least one athlete qualify for Final X to compete for a World Team spot in each year of his tenure. In the previous Olympic cycle, Gopher Wrestling Club qualified eight athletes for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials under Schlatter.
Most recently, Gopher Wrestling Club has become the standard at the 125-kilogram weight class by housing the best heavyweight wrestlers in the nation the past two seasons. In 2021, Gable Steveson won the gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics with a win over Georgia’s Geno Petriashvili, before Hayden Zillmer punched his ticket to the 2022 World Championships in Serbia with a best-of-three series win over Nick Gwiazdowski at Final X this past June.
Schlatter also helped lead GWC resident athlete Daniel DeShazer to his first national team this past summer at 57-kilogram, while current Golden Gopher student-athletes Aaron Nagao and Michial Foy also made the U23 World Team while representing Gopher Wrestling Club.
“I am very proud of what we have been able to accomplish with Gopher Wrestling Club,” Schlatter said. “Having an Olympic gold medalist last year with Gable [Steveson], and now Hayden [Zillmer] making the U.S. World team is pretty special. Witnessing their development over the years and helping them accomplish their dreams is what it’s all about. The club and the program are in a great place moving forward to bring NCAA titles as well as World and Olympic medals back to Minnesota. It’s not easy to walk away from, but ultimately it’s the best decision for me and my family.”
Prior to his time with GWC, Schlatter left a lasting impact on the University of Minnesota wrestling program both as a competitor and as a coach. From 2006-2010, Schlatter was a three-time NCAA All-American, 2x Big Ten champion, and a 2006 NCAA champion at 149 pounds, recording 114 career wins in his time in the Maroon & Gold. As a member of the staff, he helped lead the Gophers to seven top-10 team finishes and 18 NCAA All-Americans.
As a competitor on the international scene, Schlatter was also a 2009 World Team member at 74-kilograms, and was a Pan American gold medalist in 2015.
“I've been with the Gopher wrestling program for 17 years as an athlete and a coach, and in that time I’ve had the opportunity to work with and train so many incredible people. The relationships and memories will last a lifetime and will always have a special place in my heart. Minnesota Wrestling has been a huge part of my life for so long and I’m just grateful to have played a small part in continuing to build on its tradition and to give back to a program that has given me so much.”
Gopher Wrestling Club will continue its busy freestyle season later this fall as Hayden Zillmer heads to Belgrade, Serbia to compete in the 2022 World Championships on September 10-18 before Aaron Nagao and Michial Foy will both look for a U23 World medal in Montevedra, Spain in mid-October.