YORK, PA-Former York College head wrestling coach Rich Achtzehn has been named to the National Wrestling Coaches Association Division III Wrestling Hall of Fame as announced recently by the NWCA. The NWCA Hall of Fame will be Achtzehn’s second such honor as he was inducted into the York College Athletic Hall of Fame in 1995.
Achtzehn was pleasantly surprised by the honor.
“Certainly, it wasn’t something I expected,” stated Achtzehn. “It is a tremendous honor to be recognized by your peers, especially so long after I retired as a wrestling coach. I am looking forward to going to Cedar Rapids to be a part of the induction and the national championships.”
Achtzehn is in the midst of his 33rd year at York College of Pennsylvania. Achtzehn has had a number of duties in his time at YCP including head wrestling coach, head men’s track & field coach and the leader of the men’s and women’s cross country programs. Achtzehn has been a full time faculty member for all 33 of his years at York.
Achtzehn began his wrestling coaching career as an assistant coach at Garfield High School in Woodbridge, VA in 1969 after he was a four-year letter-winning wrestler at West Liberty State College. He spent two years at Garfield before being named as the head coach at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, KY. Achtzehn had a successful stint as head coach at EKU as he guided the Colonels to a two-year mark of 18-10. He was named honorable mention Rookie Coach-of-the-Year in 1972 by Amateur Wrestling News. He had one wrestler qualify for the 1972 NCAA Division I Championships. Achtzehn also served as the meet director for the 1972 AAU Regional Olympic Trials in Kentucky.
Achtzehn was named the York College head wrestling coach in the summer of 1973. He took a York College program that had some success and elevated it to the level of a national contender, first as an NAIA school and then as a member of NCAA Division III. Achtzehn’s record in 18 years was 184-96, good for a winning percentage of over 63%. He coached one NAIA national champion, Joe Waltemeyer at 174 pounds in 1974, two NAIA All-Americans and seven NCAA Division III All-Americans.
In all 18 years as head coach, the Spartans had at least one wrestler qualify for the national championship tournament. He led the Spartans to a fourth place finish at the 1974 NAIA national championship tournament, their highest finish in school history. The Spartans also registered multiple top 20 finishes in the NCAA tournament during his tenure at York. Achtzehn also coached six All-American Scholar Wrestlers. He was recipient of the 25-year coaching award from the NCAA Division III Wrestling Coaches Association. Achtzehn coached six of the nine wrestling members of the York College Athletic Hall of Fame during his time at York.
After stepping down as head coach in the summer of 1990, Achtzehn stayed on staff as the Associate Head Coach under current Spartan head coach Tom Kessler. He retired from coaching wrestling in the summer of 1997.
In his 27-year coaching career, Achtzehn had an overall record of 202-106.
Achtzehn remains at York College as a full time member of the faculty. He has taught physical education classes since 1972 and has been very active in the implementation of the Sport Management program at York. That program began in the late 1990’s and continues to grow as one of the most popular majors at York.
Achtzehn continues to coach the Spartan men’s and women’s cross country programs while he also served a stint as the head coach of the men’s track and field program. He led the Spartans to Capital Athletic Conference championships in 1991 and 1992.
Achtzehn will travel out to Cedar Rapids, IA, the site of the 2008 Division III National Championship Tournament. He will be accompanied by Kessler and his staff in addition to three Spartans, Kyle Flickinger (New Oxford, Pa./Bermudian Springs), Luke Panizzi (Eatontown, N.J./Monmouth Regional), and John Niedrich (Freehold, N.J./Christian Brothers Academy), who will be competing in this week’s championship tournament. Achtzehn will be inducted on Thursday, March 6 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.