Photo: Sam Janicki

Kennedy, Gilman added to Oklahoma State coaching staff

STILLWATER -- Oklahoma State head wrestling coach David Taylor has announced the addition of Jimmy Kennedy as associate head coach and Thomas Gilman as assistant coach for the Cowboy program.

Kennedy joins the staff after serving as an assistant at Penn State for the past three seasons, where he played an important role in the program's immense success. The Nittany Lions captured the NCAA team title in all three of Kennedy's seasons and never suffered a defeat in the regular season with a perfect 45-0 dual record. Kennedy also helped guide Penn State wrestlers to 11 NCAA individual championships and 22 All-America honors.

In his last season on staff, Penn State ran away with the national team title after racking up 172.5 points, breaking the all-time NCAA record. PSU's 100-point margin of victory was also an NCAA record as the team crowned four individual champions and eight All-Americans.

"Jimmy is a coach that everyone wants on their team," Taylor said. "He not only scraps with kids and can lay the hammer down, but he's also someone who just really cares about the well-being of the athletes. He connects with people and has an energy in the room that makes everyone want to get better."

Before his tenure in State College, Kennedy also spent time as an assistant coach at Northwestern, volunteering in 2019 before being promoted to a full-time role.

Kennedy put together an impressive career as an athlete as well, first at Illinois from 2007-11 and then on the international stage. For the Fighting Illini, Kennedy was a three-time All-American, hitting the podium in 2008, 2009 and 2011, the first two coming at 133 pounds and the last at 141. He was just the 12th three-time All-American in program history and ended his collegiate career with a record of 119-24.

Headlining Kennedy's lengthy list of freestyle accolades was an appearance at the World Championships in 2014 while representing the United States. Wrestling at 61 kg, Kennedy was victorious at the USA World Team Trials and went on to represent his country in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, later that summer. He had runner-up finishes at the trials in 2013 and 2017 and was a champion at the 2016 U.S. Open. His other accomplishments include victories at the 2017 Paris International, 2014 Yasar Dogu, 2013 Intercontinental Cup, 2012 and 2013 Guelph Open and 2012 New York Athletic Club International.

Beginning his wrestling career at Grant Community High School in Fox Lake, Illinois, Kennedy reached the state finals in all four seasons with victories as a sophomore and senior. Kennedy's senior year in 2006 saw him break the state record for takedowns in a season with 384 and was named Illinois' recipient of the Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award. He won a cadet national championship his sophomore year and completed his career with a 187-3 record.

Over the past 15 years, Gilman has seen immense success at every level of the sport and now joins the Cowboy staff in the first official coaching role of his career. Most recently, Gilman was part of the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club alongside Taylor as he trained for competition on the world level.

"Thomas is one of those people that elevates others around him," Taylor said. "I can't wait to watch him grow into his role as a coach. I know he will pour into these kids and be a great leader for this program."

As an athlete at Iowa from 2013-17, Gilman was a key piece of the Hawkeye lineup while consistently delivering deep runs at the NCAA Championships. He concluded his career with an impressive 100-9 record, including an 84.5 percent bonus rate in his three seasons as a full-time starter. In both his junior and senior seasons, Gilman entered the postseason with an undefeated record before ultimately finishing runner-up at the NCAA Championships as a junior.

In all, Gilman was a three-time All-American for the Hawkeyes and placed third-or-better at the Big Ten Championships in each of his final three seasons.

Following his departure from collegiate wrestling in 2017, Gilman immediately began a successful career on the freestyle circuit in which he represented the United States at the world level five times in six years and captured four medals.

The first of those four medals came in August 2017, just months after his final appearance for the Hawkeyes. Gilman blazed through the United States World Team Trials to clinch a berth at the World Championships later that summer, where he went 4-1 before falling to Japan's Yuki Takahashi in the finals and bringing home a silver medal. The following summer, Gilman took bronze at the Pan American championships and represented his country at the World Championships for the second-straight year with a fifth-place finish in Budapest.

After falling just short of the World team in 2019, Gilman broke through once again with a sweep at the 2020 Olympic Team Trials to secure his spot at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, which took place in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In Tokyo, Gilman dropped his first match, but responded with a technical fall over Uzbekistani Gulomjon Abdullaev and 9-1 win against Reza Atri of Iran to take the bronze medal. The placement marked Gilman's first Olympic medal and second of four medals on the world stage.

Another highlight of Gilman's career came the very next year, when he won gold at the 2021 World Championships, the first American to accomplish the feat at 57 kg.

Gilman returned to the World Championships in 2022, as he finished runner-up for the second time in his career and represented the United States for the fifth time over six years. He also added a gold medal at the Pan American Championships that summer, as well as in 2023.

A graduate of Skutt Catholic High School in Omaha, Neb., Gilman was the 20th four-time state champion in Nebraska history. Gilman's efforts were vital in the team's three titles and one runner-up finish throughout his career. He also added freestyle national titles at the cadet and junior levels in 2010 and 2011, respectively.