VonOhlen, Kreimier, Martinez advance to Friday's action
Falcons earn first win over UNI since 2002
Falcons' coach named College Coach of the Year
The Falcons picked up a 35-9 WWC victory over the Bears on Senior Day.
The Falcons captured a 28-15 victory over New Mexico Highlands in JV competition on Jan. 13.
The 25th-ranked Falcons score a 19-18 come-from-behind victory over former WWC foe Northern Iowa.
Air Force hosted the 2012 All-Academy Championships on Feb. 5, placing second in the team standings.
The Falcons hosted the Cowboys on Senior Night on Feb. 2.
The 2013-14 season marks the eighth year for Joel Sharratt as the head coach of the Air Force wrestling program.
In his first seven years, Sharratt has helped the Falcons' program make great strides. In his words, moving forward has only been possible "through a unified effort among my staff to develop our athletes' talents, as well as the continued growth of family and alumni support during challenging times."
The performance of the 2012-13 squad demonstrated the progress that the program has been able to achieve. Last season, Sharratt guided Air Force to an 11-4 dual record and 2-3 mark in the Western Wrestling Conference. The Falcons qualified four wrestlers to the NCAA Championships, led by senior captain Cole VonOhlen, who became just the third four-time NCAA qualifier in program history. VonOhlen, who finished in the top 12 despite battling a significant shoulder injury, was joined at the national tournament by West Regional champions Josh Kreimier and Dylan Hyder and WWC Freshman of the Year Josh Martinez.
In 2012, VonOhlen and Kreimier both advanced to the round of 12 at the NCAA Championships. Their respective finishes were the best for Air Force wrestlers since the 2002-03 season, when Kevin Hoy was a national runner-up. In addition, Sharratt was named the College Coach of the Year by the Colorado Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
In 2011, Sharratt led Air Force to a 12-5 dual record, as the Falcons registered their first winning season since 2003, while also posting their highest dual victory total since 1984. Seven different wrestlers notched at least 20 wins on the season, including a nation-best 44 victories from VonOhlen, while the Falcons captured third place at the NCAA West Regional. VonOhlen, ranked in the top 10 nationally, was named the Outstanding Wrestler at the West Regional and went on to his second NCAA bid in as many years.
In 2010, Sharratt helped guide a young team to six wins and a fifth-place showing at the NCAA West Regional. In addition, he began to develop VonOhlen into a national contender, as the newcomer became the first Air Force freshman since 2005 to earn a spot at the NCAA Championships. VonOhlen, nationally ranked at 141 pounds for most of the 2010 season, was named the Western Wrestling Conference Freshman of the Year and earned a second-place showing at the West Regional.
In 2008, Air Force, which put together a 9-9 overall dual record, had a strong season, capturing a second-place finish at the 2008 NCAA West Regional, matching their best-ever showing at the tournament (also finishing second in 2003). Jake Kriegbaum, named the Outstanding Wrestler at the West Regional, and Tyler French both won their respective weight classes at the NCAA West Regional/WWC Championships, while three others--Jacob Devlin, Stephen Crozier and Tony Dorward--placed second.
For helping orchestrate Air Force's remarkable turnaround, Sharratt was named the Western Wrestling Conference Coach of the Year. Kriegbaum and French were honored as first-team All-WWC selections, while Devlin, Crozier and Dorward were named to the second team.
To cap off the season, the Falcons also sent four wrestlers--Kriegbaum, French, Devlin and Crozier--to the NCAA Championships for the third time in the past four seasons. All four won at least one match at the national meet, with Kriegbaum and Devlin each bringing home two victories.
Although faced with a rebuilding task in his first season as head coach, Sharratt helped lead Air Force to a 3-1 mark in its inaugural season in the Western Wrestling Conference. With the Falcons earning a sixth-place team finish at the NCAA West Regional, Crozier and Devlin led Air Force as third-team all-conference selections.
Sharratt's influence has been notable off the mat as well. Josh Larson, a 2011 graduate, served as the Cadet Wing Commander in the spring of 2011, supporting the team's leadership role in military development. Academically, the Falcons have been consistently in the top 10 percent of the NCAA APR (Academic Progress Rate) rankings among all Division I wrestling institutions, while earning NWCA All-Academic honors as a team in 2009. In addition, Stephen Crozier, a 2009 graduate, was named to the NWCA All-Academic team in 2008 and 2009, and was also a three-time member of the WWC All-Academic team. In 2013, the Falcons had two more wrestlers earn NWCA All-Academic honors, with sophomores Hyder and Jesse Stafford each being named to the prestigious team.
Upon his arrival in 2006, Sharratt set goals that seem to be coming to fruition. "Air Force has a great program and a great staff and I'm looking forward to the chance to get it going," said Sharratt. "My goals for the Air Force wrestling program are for every athlete to graduate and be commissioned as an Air Force officer, for our wrestlers to be leaders in the Cadet Wing, and for each individual to reach his full potential on the mat."
The multi-faceted approach to molding cadets into future leaders--through military training, academic endeavors and athletic competition--is one that Sharratt is quick to embrace. "The opportunity to work and serve at an institution where athletics is recognized as an extension of the classroom is important to me," said Sharratt. "Here at the Air Force Academy, the wrestling program is the Combative classroom, where the rubber meets the road in testing each individual's ability to perform under stress and pressure, demonstrate the ability to be flexible and ready to adapt to the rapidly changing circumstances you experience in a combat sport and develop the disposition to impose our program's physical, technical and mental strategy in a real world environment. It is where we educate the cadets on the myriad of possibilities confronting you in a combat situation."
Sharratt believes in leadership from the front and when given the opportunity to deploy to Balad AB, Iraq, in the spring of 2011, he humbly accepted the chance to go overseas, serving as a part of General Neubauer's Combatives Mobile Training Team. As combatives instructor at the Air Force Academy, Sharratt works with the Air Force Center of Excellence, housed here at USAFA to help offer the greater Air Force the best combatives training possible.
"Civilian schools' sports are simply thought of as entertainment or extracurricular activity," continued Sharratt. "Here, we are an integral contributor to the mission of the institution. Each year that a cadet commits 100 percent to our wrestling program is the equivalent of a 12-month immersion program in Global Engagement!"
Sharratt is no stranger to the unique mission and demands of a service academy, arriving at Air Force after spending six seasons as the head assistant wrestling coach at the United States Naval Academy. In 2005-06, Sharratt helped lead the Midshipmen to a 13-2 dual record, their best win total since the 1990-91 season, while also sending five wrestlers to the NCAA Championships. Sharratt was also a tenured assistant professor at the Naval Academy, while additionally serving as the faculty chair of the USNA combative courses.
A 1995 graduate of the University of Iowa, Sharratt was a three-time All-American, earning three trips to the NCAA Finals, winning the championship in 1994. Training under the tutelage of legendary coach Dan Gable during his college career, Sharratt was a four-year letterwinner for the Hawkeyes, and was twice selected as the team captain. Sharratt led his team to the 1995 Big Ten Championship and NCAA Championship, winning the Big Ten individual championship that season. Sharratt also competed as a member of the 1993 and 1994 Big Ten Championship teams, as well as the 1992 and 1994 NCAA Championship teams.
Following his college career, Sharratt was a two-time member of the U.S. National Team, earning the bronze medal at both the 1996 Olympic Trials and 1997 Pan American Championships. While competing on the international level, Sharratt represented the United States around the world including trips to Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Italy, France and Canada. Accomplishments as a coach in the freestyle arena included cadet national champions and junior national champions, as well as multiple national team members and world medalists.
Sharratt has also served as a graduate assistant at the University of Minnesota, where he earned his master's degree in sports administration in 2000, serving a two year position as the Developmental Freestyle Coach for the state of Minnesota. Sharratt also worked as an assistant coach at Lehigh from 1996-98 and as a graduate assistant at his alma mater during the 1995-96 season.
A native of Bloomington, Minn., Sharratt was inducted into the Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2011. Honored as an athlete, Sharratt was recognized for his accomplishments both as a state champion at Bloomington-Kennedy High School and as an All-American and NCAA champion at Iowa.
Sharratt and his wife, Jamie, live in Monument, Colo., with their four daughters, Tori (10), Taylor (8), Carly (5) and Trista (4).