By Amanda Dahl
Purdue Sports Information
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue head wrestling coach Tony Ersland has assembled another piece of his staff with the hiring of Zach Tanelli as an assistant coach. Tanelli, who is no stranger to the Big Ten Conference as a 2009 All-American at Wisconsin, joins the Boilermaker wrestling program after a five-year coaching stint at Hofstra.
“I was really impressed with Zach when he talked about the importance of being in a role of mentoring and guiding young men,” Ersland said. “He’s got the right mindset as a coach and we’re very much in line with the school of thought in mentoring. A coaches’ role goes beyond wrestling. With him, it’s always about the student-athletes first. It’s about serving them and I have a sense that is very important to him.
“Zach has had to wear a lot of different hats at Hofstra and has done a lot of different things. He’s been put in a lot of different situations and scenarios during his coaching career. That’s what I also like about him. His experience is going to be invaluable to us moving forward.
“We now have a staff with goals and expectations for this program to take it to the next level,” Ersland said. “There’s no doubt that Tyrel [Todd], Zach and I are all on the same page and are going to put in the work necessary to get there. I’m excited to get to work with these guys.”
During his tenure at Hofstra, Tanelli worked his way up the coaching ranks and most recently served as interim head coach. He was the head assistant coach for the two previous seasons after spending his first three years as an assistant coach with the Pride.
The former Badger made an impact throughout Hofstra’s lineup, particularly in the lower weights. Tanelli coached four All-Americans in Steve Bonanno (125), Lou Ruggirello (133), Justin Accordino (149) and P.J. Gillespie (165). The Pride won three-straight Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) team titles (2011-13) before moving to the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) in 2013-14, where they placed fourth with two finalists, including the 165-pound champion, Joseph Booth.
While in the CAA, seven Hofstra grapplers claimed tournament crowns under the guidance of Tanelli, including a pair of two-time champs in Bonanno and 184-pounder Ben Clymer. Jamie Franco (133), Luke Vaith (141), Gillespie (149), Ryan Patrovich (174) and Paul Snyder (HWT) were also titlists for Tanelli.
Tanelli wrestled the first three years of his Badger career at 133 pounds and bumped up to 141 for his senior campaign in 2009. He was a two-time NCAA qualifier at 133 and earned a spot on the 141 podium with a fourth-place finish for All-America accolades. During his senior season, Tanelli went on a blaze, owning a 31-6 record, including a spotless 7-0 mark against Big Ten foes. He was ranked No. 1 at his weight for the second half of the 2008-09 season after winning the 141-pound Midlands Championships title and was bestowed with the Champion of Champions Award.
Tanelli was a three-time Big Ten Championships placewinner and improved upon his finish each year. As a sophomore, he placed eighth at 133, followed by a fifth-place finish as a junior. Tanelli then took second at 141 as a senior.
During his career at Wisconsin, Tanelli compiled an 88-31 record with a blistering .967 winning percentage. He won 44 percent of his matches with bonus points, registering 15 major decisions, 13 falls and 11 technical falls.
A native of Milburn, N.J., Tanelli earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Wisconsin in 2009 and his master’s degree in higher educational leadership and policy studies from Hofstra in 2012.