Grand Valley State University officials announced last November that the Lakers would offer wrestling as a varsity sport for the first time since 1993.
Since then, the program has continued to take shape. GVSU athletic director Keri Becker announced this week that Joey Simcoe has been hired to coach the Lakers.
Simcoe has spent the past 11 years coaching at Tiffin University in Tiffin, Ohio, having coached 35 NCAA qualifiers, including 15 All-Americans and two individual Division II national champions. Additionally, the Dragons recorded three top-10 Division II team finishes and crowned nine Regional Super Champions and five NCAA Most Falls Honorees.
“I first want to thank President Mantella, Athletic Director Keri Becker and the entire wrestling hiring committee for the opportunity to lead Grand Valley State’s wrestling program in its return to sport status. academic,” Simcoe said in a statement. “Opportunities like this don’t come around often and I’m thrilled to be a part of the fabric of Grand Valley State athletics.” I also want to thank Athletic Director Lonny Allen and Tiffin University for their support throughout my career as head coach. We were able to accomplish great things at Tiffin, on and off the mat, with exceptional student-athletes. I will always be grateful to have the opportunity to lead the Tiffin wrestling family.
The fight will return to Grand Valley in 2023. The Lakers twice finished second in the NAIA National Tournament and placed fourth three more seasons before the program was halted 29 years ago.
Tiffin has won two Top 8 NWCA National Duals in his career and was named GMAC Coach of the Year four times (2022, 2020, 2019, 2017) and Super Region 3 Coach of the Year. National Wrestling Coach Association in 2020. Tiffin has 29 All-American Scholar NWCA honors and 43 GMAC All-Conference selections.
“To bring the once proud and tradition-filled wrestling program back to GVSU and rebuild it from the ground up is an incredible opportunity,” Simcoe said. “Grand Valley State is dedicated to restoring wrestling to an elite level, on the course with all the vision of excellence that the Athletics Department operates.”
During the 2021-22 campaign, seven Tiffin wrestlers earned All-GMAC Team berths and Simcoe was named GMAC Coach of the Year for the fourth time in his career. The Dragons finished third at the NCAA Super Region 3 Championship, sending five wrestlers to the NCAA Championships where Nicholas Mason earned All-American honors with his third-place finish.
“We are thrilled to have Joey join Grand Valley State and lead the relaunch of our wrestling program,” Becker said. “Joey had a vision for building the program at all levels that set him apart from an exceptional pool of candidates. It was evident from the first conversation that he was committed to building a culture of success both on and off. of the mat, while providing our student-athletes with a championship experience.
Simcoe led the Dragons to a ranking as high as eighth in the NWCA in 2021, finishing sixth at super regionals and sending two athletes to nationals. Tiffin had a record-breaking season in 2019-20, winning the GMAC Championship and sending five to the NCAA Nationals after finishing second in the program at the NCAA Regionals.
Before coming to Tiffin Simcoe spent three years as an assistant coach under former head coach Shawn Nelson at Findlay and two years at Cumberland University. As an assistant, Simcoe helped coach five national champions, 16 All-Americans, and 21 Scholar All-Americans.
Simcoe earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Findlay in 2004 and was named Academic All-American the same year. He was a three-time All-American in wrestling and was voted team captain three times. He still ranks among the all-time leaders in both single-season and career close drop points.
A 1999 graduate of Northridge High School (Johnstown, Ohio), Simcoe was a three-time state qualifier and two-time state usher. Simcoe and his wife, Sally, are parents to sons Joey (20), Maddox (17) and CJ (17) and daughters Savana (18) and Izabelle (2).
Grand Valley State struggle returns to university status after nearly 30 years