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Chris Ayres hired as head coach at Princeton

PRINCETON, N.J. - Chris Ayres, no stranger to EIWA individual or team success, has been hired as the head coach of Princeton wrestling, it was announced today by Director of Athletics Gary Walters. Ayres, who spent the last five years as an assistant coach at Lehigh University, becomes the 10th head coach of Princeton wrestling and takes over for Michael New, who resigned following the 2005-06 campaign.

"We are thrilled to have Chris Ayres take over our wrestling program," Walters said during the announcement. "We believe he is one of the very talented coaches in collegiate wrestling, and we're confident he will provide excellent leadership as we attempt to restore the fortunes of Princeton wrestling."

"I am honored and excited to be part of the Princeton athletics staff," Ayres, a 1999 graduate of Lehigh, said. "Every time I met somebody affiliated with Princeton, whether it was a staff member, alumnus, student-athlete or fan, I came away impressed. Throughout the process I was more and more drawn to Princeton with each person I met. My goal is to help student-athletes reach their goals in wrestling, school, and ultimately life, and the Princeton Athletics staff shares those same ideals. Princeton seems to bring the best out of people and I can't imagine a better place to continue my coaching career."

A former EIWA champion and All-America during his undergraduate career at Lehigh, Ayres joined the coaching staff in June 2001. During his tenure, the Mountain Hawks claimed five straight EIWA team championships and produced 12 All-Americas and two national champions. Ayres worked specifically with five of the All-Americas in all aspects of training.

A superior mat coach, Ayres also brings a highly regarded recruiting ability to Princeton. He was an integral part of every aspect of five recruiting classes, and his most recent recruiting class will bring a combined 14 state championships to Lehigh. Among those was arguably the top New Jersey high school recruit, Delbarton's Mike Grey.

"Although there are a lot of factors that contribute to the development of a top national wrestling program, my main goal is to provide each individual on the Princeton wrestling team the direction and opportunities necessary to be the best they can be in wrestling," Ayres said. "Through this process I also hope to shed light on the lessons learned in sport that will later be applied in life. As well as training the current team, I look forward to recruiting and training the next generation of Princeton wrestlers. Princeton athletics has a long history of attracting and developing the best and brightest student-athletes and it is my intention to continue that tradition in wrestling."

Ayres also had significant administrative duties at Lehigh, including monitoring the academic careers of the student-athletes and raising money for the renovation of the weight room and locker room. He also served as the assistant director of the wrestling summer camps, a role he has served since 1999.

Ayres came to the Lehigh wrestling program as an undergraduate walk-on, but ended his career among the best in Mountain Hawk history. While at Lehigh, Ayres established a new school record with 120 career victories, and in 1998 he amassed the most wins in a single season for a Lehigh wrestler with 39. He won the 150-pound EIWA championship as a junior and earned All-America honors at 157 points as the NCAA sixth-place finisher during his senior season. Over his four-year career, he never missed a dual match. In the summer of 2001, Ayres placed fourth in the U.S. Senior Open Nationals and fourth at the U.S. World Team Trials. He also finished fifth at the 2002 Team Trials.

Prior to wrestling for Lehigh, Ayres wrestled at Newton High School and Blair Academy in New Jersey, where he won 69 bouts. In his senior season Ayres was a District Champion and a regional runner-up at 135 pounds. With a model work ethic, Ayres was the first Lehigh Wrestler in 38 years to become an All-American without earning a medal at the state championship level.

He earned his undergraduate degree in marketing and earned his master's in elementary education at Lehigh in 2001. Ayres and his wife Lori have one daughter, Chloe.
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