Photo: Sam Janicki

Esposito named associate head coach at NC State

RALEIGH -- NC State head wrestling coach Pat Popolizio has announced that Zack Esposito will join his staff and serve as an associate head coach. The veteran coach comes to the Wolfpack after a stint with USA Wrestling.

"Zack is a big impact hire", said Popolizio. "He comes from an elite background of wrestling, has produced at all levels and is a proven winner. His values mirror everything that our program stands for and I am confident that we will continue to build on the momentum that has continued to grow in the past several seasons. He shares the same goals as the rest of us, to win a national title."

After previously holding the associate head coach position at Oklahoma State for seven years, he was most recently the National Freestyle Development and Resident Coach for USA Wrestling, the national governing body for wrestling in the United States.

In his position, Esposito coordinated the U.S. Pan American and World Teams at the U15, U17 and U20 levels. He also managed USA Wrestling's Elite U20 Resident Program, which trains at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. He worked directly with National Freestyle Coach Bill Zadick and Manager of Freestyle Programs Joe Russell on many other projects as part of USA Wrestling's professional national freestyle coaching staff.

"This is bittersweet, because I really respect Zack and his family," said National Freestyle Coach Bill Zadick. "We wish him great success in his new opportunity. We know he will continue to be a longtime contributor to USA Wrestling in his new position. We value our Developmental position as one of our most important roles, and will look for another great coach to influence our future."

Esposito is a familiar face to Popolizio, as they both wrestled for John Smith, the two-time Olympic champion and four-time World champion as a freestyle athlete, and the long-time decorated Cowboy wrestling program. Esposito spent 21 years with the program between his time as a student-athlete and on the coaching staff.

His coaching career began in 2010 with the Cowboy Wrestling Club and was continued when he was added to the Oklahoma State staff as an assistant coach in 2012 and later promoted to associate head coach in 2017.

During his tenure in Stillwater, the Pokes boasted 67 All-Americans, 10 NCAA champions, 11 Big 12 Tournament titles, and 69 individual conference champions.

He posted an impressive collegiate career, with a 120-12 record as a four-year starter from 2002-2006. He helped the Pokes secure four team NCAA championships and four team Big 12 championships in addition to an individual national title of his own his junior year at 149 pounds.

"I am thrilled to join Pat Popolizio and the NC State wrestling staff", said Esposito. "His reputation as a coach and the culture he has cultivated at NC State are truly remarkable. I want to express my gratitude to USA Wrestling, Bill Zadick, and Joe Russell for their unwavering support. The season spent with them was an invaluable learning experience. I look forward to developing student-athletes and working alongside the rest of the dedicated staff members of the Wolfpack wrestling program."

The Three Bridges, N.J., native is married to the former Brandy Baker. The couple has two daughters, Evelyn and Goldie, and a son, Rocco.