Courtesy Ryan Yanoshak
United States Military Academy
WEST POINT, N.Y. – Joe Heskett, a four-time All-American, national champion and former U.S. World Team member who spent the past four years as an assistant at Ohio State University, has been named the head wrestling coach at Army Athletics Director Kevin Anderson announced.
Heskett, a 2001 graduate of Iowa State University, replaces Chuck Barbee who resigned following his 10th season to pursue other interests.
“I am very excited to have one of the young talents in collegiate wrestling as our head coach,” said Anderson. “Joe comes highly recommended from Athletic Director of the Year Gene Smith of Ohio State has unmatched credentials on the mat and his passion and dedication to the sport should pay immediate dividends. He has continued to advance his career and we are confident he can lead us to wins over Navy, EIWA Championships and national qualifiers.”
Heskett, who won the 165-pound national championship in 2002, is the ninth head coach in program history.
“Life will often surprise us with outstanding opportunities,” said Heskett. “I am humbled and honored to be able to lead and represent the Army wrestling program. I am inspired by what West Point represents and I graciously accept the challenge to mentor and motivate the cadet-athletes, improve their technical and tactical skills on the mat and to beat Navy. I would like to thank my family, Kevin Anderson, the West Point search committee, specifically Associate Athletic Director Gene McIntyre for his time and energy and the entire USMA athletic department.”
Heskett, the eighth four-time All-American at Iowa State, graduated with a degree in speech communications and a career record of 143-9.
He was a three-time national finalist, winning one championship and finishing second and third. Heskett captured three Big 12 Championships, won the prestigious Midlands event on three occasions and graduated third on Iowa State’s all-time wins list.
Following his decorated collegiate career, Heskett earned a spot on the 2007 U.S. World Team after winning the U.S. Nationals and U.S. World Team Trials. He represented the United States at the ’07 World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan with a fifth-place finish. He dropped a tough, three-period battle with a two-time world champion from Russia in the semifinals before wrestling back to finish fifth and was one of five wrestlers to qualify at his weight for the Olympics. Earlier that summer, he won a silver medal at 163 pounds at the 2007 Pan American Games.
Less than a week after returning from the World Championships, Heskett was forced to retire from competitive wrestling due to an injury and joined the Ohio State staff.
Hired as the volunteer assistant in 2006, Heskett was training for the Olympics while assisting in recruiting, team academic support, cultivating donor and alumni relations and other operational duties. Shortly after his competitive retirement, he was promoted to full-time assistant on Tom Ryan’s staff as the chief recruiter. In addition to his work on the mat, Heskett also assumed responsibility for practice plans, academic progress and community service initiatives.
During his tenure at Ohio State, Heskett helped the Buckeyes to four top-10 team finishes at the NCAA Tournament, three NCAA champions and 15 All-Americans. He played a large role in securing the nation’s top recruiting class in 2006 and helped sign a host of top prospects.
Heskett began his coaching career at Cal Poly University where he was the head assistant wrestling coach an also earned his master’s degree with honors in Educational Leadership with an emphasis in Athletic Administration. He assisted in all facets of the program, including fundraising, and helped the Mustangs to their highest NCAA placement in nearly 20 years.
Leadership and leadership training is another passion of Heskett’s. He was Iowa State’s representative at the NCAA Leadership Conference, a board member of the Children’s Body Image, a former member of the Major Ray Mendoza Leadership Fund and an Ambassador and Public Awareness Speaker for the Ohio State Medical Center. He is the founder and Chief Visionary Officer for h Leadership in Columbus, Ohio, a firm with an array of industry experts
A native of Akron, Ohio, Heskett and his wife Tara have two daughters, Olivia and Ava, and are expecting a son in late July. They will reside at West Point.