Photo: Sam Janicki

Erisman honored as NCAA Division I Coach of the Year

The Open Mat presents awards annually in three categories for each division of college wrestling at the conclusion of the season. Awards are presented for Freshman of the Year, Coach of the Year and Wrestler of the Year.

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock wrestling program is coming off a historic 2023-24 season.

On Thursday, Little Rock head wrestling coach Neil Erisman was honored as the 2024 NCAA Division I Coach of the Year by The Open Mat.

The award comes after Erisman was named NWCA National Coach of the Year and Pac-12 Coach of the Year.

One year after finishing 5-10 in dual meets, Erisman, a former Oklahoma State wrestler, guided Little Rock to a 15-5 dual meet record and top-15 ranking in The Open Mat's final dual meet rankings. The Trojans claimed the Pac-12 regular season title after going 4-1 in the conference.

Little Rock finished runner-up at the Pac-12 Wrestling Championships and qualified a program-best five wrestlers for the NCAAs. Little Rock wrestlers Nasir Bailey (133), Joey Bianchi (165) and Stephen Little (197) won Pac-12 titles, becoming the program's first-ever conference champions.

At the 2024 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in Kansas City, Bailey and Little made program history again by becoming Little Rock's first two All-Americans in program history. Bailey, seeded seventh, placed fourth at 133 pounds. The ninth-seeded Little placed seventh at 197 pounds. Little Rock finished 19th as a team at the 2024 NCAAs.