Bell named first head coach for West Liberty women's wrestling program

West Liberty, W.Va. -- The West Liberty University athletics department and the women's wrestling program will check off another milestone in their program's short history since its addition in September. Interim athletic director, Brad Forshey, and director of wrestling, Danny Irwin, made the announcement introducing Troy Bell as the program's first head coach on Tuesday morning inside the Boyle Conference Center Room.

"West Liberty University wrestling is rich in history and tradition," stated Forshey. "As we embark on the next chapter with the addition of women's wrestling, we needed a leader that would embrace the passion and standard needed to lead this program. One person checked every box and we're excited to announce Troy Bell as the first head coach in WLU women's wrestling history. Coach Bell brings a wealth of experience in the sport as well as a broad palate of intangibles that will guide the program into the next phases. Welcome to the Hilltopper family Coach Bell."

Bell most recently served as the assistant women's wrestling coach and recruiting coordinator at the University of Mount Olive from 2022-24. During his two years with the Trojans the team combined for a 16-7 dual record with ten national qualifiers, three All-Americans and ten Scholar All-Americans. This past March the UMO program notched a ninth place team finish at the NCWWC National Championships.

"I am excited to work with Coach Bell to continue making West Liberty a destination for all wrestlers across the country!" exclaimed Irwin. "He has such a strong desire to serve student-athletes along with a work ethic that will help raise the bar on the Hilltop. You pair that with the leadership experience he has in the most extreme conditions, and we couldn't have brought in a better person to our family!"

Bell served 26 years in the United States Marine Corps, retiring in 2014 at the rank of Master Sergeant/E8. During his time in the USMC, he was awarded both the Navy Marine Corps Commendation Medal for outstanding leadership and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for exceptional leadership on three occasions each.

"It's an honor and I'm humbled to be named the first women's wrestling head coach at WLU," said Bell. "I'm excited to be a part of a university with a storied tradition and a wrestling program that has been built on excellence in the classroom and on the mat."

Bell brings to the Hilltop over 40 years of experience in the sport of wrestling as an athlete and coach, while also serving as the leader of teams at the club, high school, Marine Corps, and collegiate levels. This includes over 27 years of coaching experience where he developed and mentored eight Adidas High School All-Americans, three NHSCA High School All-Americans, five high school state champions, three state runners-up, 24 state placers, one female Fargo National Champion, two female Fargo All-Americans, four freestyle state champions, two Greco state champions, and 21 freestyle state placers. He is certified by USA Wrestling as a Bronze Freestyle/Greco/Folkstyle coach and was the head coach for the Michigan National Team.

"I will continue to build upon the solid foundation here at WLU and build a women's wrestling program that the university and the fan base will be proud of," added Bell.

West Liberty will be among 23 first-year women's wrestling programs competing on the mats in the 2024-25 season and will be one of 96 teams vying for a NCWWC title at Xtreme Arena in Coralville, Iowa, on February 21-23, 2025. Currently an emerging sport, women's wrestling received support in moving towards becoming the 91st NCAA championship sport back in February and is projected to host its first championship in the winter of 2026.