The U.S. Naval Academy has announced that Bruce Burnett of Colorado Springs, Colo., USA Wrestling's National Freestyle Coach, has accepted the head coaching position at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.
Burnett has led USA Wrestling's national freestyle program since late 1992, and has been a major force behind the strong performance of the U.S. freestyle team on the Olympic and World level.
The U.S. Naval Academy job opened up this spring, after long-time head coach Reg Wicks retired. Burnett is expected to start full-time with the U.S. Naval Academy team in October.
"Change is good at times," said Burnett. "There are not many college programs with solid support and a strong wrestling tradition. Not only are you coaching great athletes at the U.S. Naval Academy, you are also coaching the future leaders of the nation. It's an elite group of individuals, and I'm excited about the challenge."
"We are sorry to lose Bruce Burnett; he has been a great asset for USA Wrestling," said Jim Scherr, USA Wrestling Executive Director. "We wish him the best of luck with Navy where he will do an excellent job. Both Bruce and the U.S. Navy have graciously agreed to let Bruce fulfill his responsibility to the athletes and USA Wrestling as National Coach through the Olympic Games. There will be no disruption of our team's preparation for the Sydney Olympics."
Burnett led the U.S. freestyle effort at the 1996 Olympic Games, where the U.S. won five medals, the most of any nation. He led the U.S. team to the title at the 1993 World Championships in Toronto, Canada and the 1995 World Championships in Atlanta, Ga., the only times that the USA has won Senior World titles in men's freestyle.
The United States placed second in the 1999 World Championships and third in the 1998 World Championships. The U.S. also claimed the team title at the 1998 Goodwill Games and the 1995 and 1999 Pan American Games, as well as six World Cup team titles during Burnett's era. He was the USA Wrestling Freestyle Coach of the Year in 1995 and 1996, as well as the USOC Wrestling Coach of the Year in 1996.
Burnett had served as the National Developmental Coach for USA Wrestling from July 1990 until his selection as National Freestyle Coach in 1992. As National Developmental Coach, Burnett handled the coaching and development of the age group wrestlers across the United States. During the 1989-92 quadrennium, U.S. age group World Teams won a total of 42 medals, an increase of 82% over the 1985-1988 cycle. He also worked closely with the National Coaches in both freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling through the Developmental Coach position.
Burnett, originally from Bakersfield, Calif., joined USA Wrestling after serving as the head assistant wrestling coach with NCAA champion Oklahoma State Univ. from 1987-1990. While Burnett was with the Cowboy program, OSU won two NCAA team championships, two National Wrestling Coaches Association National Dual Meet titles and three Big Eight conference titles.
He has a strong background on all levels of wrestling. He has coached kids, high school, college and Olympic-level wrestlers. He served as the USA Wrestling State Chairperson and Junior Chairperson in Idaho.
Burnett was the head wrestling coach at Meridian Senior High School in Meridian, Idaho, from 1974-87. He had a career coaching record of 154-13-2 (.923 winning percentage). His team won four state championships, four state runner-up finishes, six district titles andnine Southern Idaho Conference titles.
He received an Associate Arts degree from Bakersfield College in Bakersfield, Calif. In 1970, then went to Idaho State Univ., where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Education in 1973. He is a member of the Idaho State Univ. Hall of Fame.