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Joel Sharratt named new head coach at Air Force

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Former national team member and three-time All-American Joel Sharratt was named the new head wrestling coach at the Air Force Academy, as released by athletic administrators this morning. Sharratt replaces Wayne Baughman, who retires after 27 years at the helm of the Falcons' wrestling program.

"Air Force has a great program, a great staff and I'm looking forward to the chance to get it going," said Sharratt. "My goals for the Air Force wrestling program are for every athlete to graduate and be commissioned as an officer, for our wrestlers to be leaders in the Cadet Wing, and for each individual to reach his full potential on the mat. This team has a good nucleus to move forward, such as the Lord brothers (Bridger and Zach), who have a great work ethic, and athletic kids such as Chris Nissen. I look forward to helping them improve."

"Following Baughman, who is a legend, is a great opportunity for me," said Sharratt. "I'm fired up about the opportunity to work for the direct chain of command. Hopefully, I will be able to continue to get our alumni involved and everyone moving in one common direction--and that's forward."

Sharratt comes to the Academy after spending the last six seasons as the head assistant wrestling coach at the United States Naval Academy. This past season, Sharratt helped lead the Midshipmen to a 13-2 dual record, its best win total since the 1990-91 season, while also sending five wrestlers to the NCAA Championships. Sharratt is also a tenured assistant professor at the Naval Academy, teaching physical education courses in wrestling, martial arts, judo and hand-to-hand combat, while also serving as the faculty chair of the USNA combative courses.

A 1995 graduate of the University of Iowa, Sharratt was a three-time All-American, a two-year team captain and a four-year letterwinner for the Hawkeyes, training under the tutelage of legendary coach Dan Gable. During his college career, Sharratt competed for the NCAA title in three-straight seasons, winning the individual crown in 1994 and was a member of NCAA National Championship teams in 1993 and 1995.

Following his college career, Sharratt was a two-time member of the U.S. National Team, and has also coached multiple national team members, including world team members and national champions.

Prior to his stint at Navy, Sharratt served as a graduate assistant at the University of Minnesota, where he earned his masters degree in sports administration in 2000. While there, Sharratt also served as the Developmental Freestyle Coach for the state of Minnesota. Sharratt also worked as an assistant coach at Lehigh from 1996-98 after serving as a graduate assistant at his alma mater during the 1995-96 season.

"We're tremendously excited about welcoming Joel Sharratt, his wife, Jamie, and their two little girls to the Air Force Academy athletic department family," said deputy director of athletics Col. Billy Walker. "Joel rose to the top as our choice in an extremely competitive pool of candidates. He comes with tremendous credentials not only as a competitor, but as an assistant coach in four of the most successful programs in the country. Joel brings a level of enthusiasm, excitement and intensity to our program that will translate perfectly into our wrestling room. We anticipate Air Force wrestling to be very competitive nationally under Joel's leadership."

"Coach Baughman will be missed after 27 years at the helm of our program," continued Walker. "I can say personally, as I've known him since I began wrestling for him as an 18-year-old, that there has been no better role model and mentor for our cadets. Coach Baughman leaves an impressive legacy indeed."

Sharratt is slated to begin his tenure at the Academy following Baughman's retirement on July 31, 2006.
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