COLUMBIA, Mo. – The Big 12 Champion Missouri wrestling team has announced several additions to the coaching staff, as confirmed Thursday by head coach Brian Smith. Included in the changes is the promotion of former volunteer assistant Joe Johnston to a full time assistant position, along with two former Mizzou grapplers – Mark Ellis and Todd Schavrien – returning to join the coaching ranks.
“We’re excited about these additions to our staff,” said head coach Brian Smith. “Every one of these coaches knows exactly what we are trying to do as a program and will be integral in us getting back on the podium at NCAA’s.”
Johnston takes over as an assistant coach after spending the last four years on Missouri’s staff, with three of those year spent as the team’s volunteer assistant. The Kansas City, Mo., native joined the Mizzou staff for the 2008-09 campaign after spending two years as an assistant coach at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa.
“I’m extremely excited about getting to be even more involved in helping our team achieve their goals on the mat and helping them become good men off it,” said Johnston. “I have loved being a part of what is happening here at Missouri, and I think we are only going to keep getting better as a team.”
He was a two-time All-American at the University of Iowa at 157 pounds, which included a runner-up finish in 2005. This past April, Johnston competed in the U.S. Olympic Trials, competing at the 66 kg weight class in Freestyle.
“I know Joe is looking forward to taking on more responsibility as a full time assistant,” said Smith. “He retired from Freestyle competition after this year’s Olympic Trials to put his time and effort into coaching and our program.”
Mizzou’s first All-American at heavyweight returns to his alma mater as the volunteer assistant coach. Ellis became the second Mizzou wrestler to win a National Championship, finishing in first place at heavyweight at 2009. He picked up his second career All-America recognition in 2010 when he took sixth. The last two years, Ellis has been training and competing in MMA. He won his first career bout via submission over Jake Heun on Aug. 27, 2011.
“Mark Ellis brings a great work ethic and passion for our program and will make an immediate impact on our upper weight classes,” Smith claimed.
Returning to round out the staff, Schavrien comes back to Mizzou and will serve as the team’s Director of Operations. Schavrien claimed the Big 12 title at 141 pounds in 2011 and went on to become an All-American later that season with a sixth place finish at the NCAA Championships. A three-time NCAA qualifier, Schavrien spent last season as an assistant coach at Drexel University.
“Getting Todd to come back to Mizzou was so important for us,” Smith said. “He brings a great attitude and will assist in running the day-to-day operations of the program.”
Additionally, the program will be expanding the current wrestling facility to allow for an Olympic development center. More information will be released as the projected progresses.
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