YORK, PA – York College Assistant Dean for Athletics and Recreation, Paul Saikia, has announced that current assistant wrestling coach Duane Bastress has been named the Spartans' new head wrestling coach effective the end of the 2012-13 season. He replaces long-time head coach Tom Kessler who has announced he is stepping away from the program at the end of the campaign.
"First, I have to thank Dr. Waldner, Joe Merkle, and Paul Saikia for giving me the opportunity to become the next head coach of the York College wrestling program," stated Bastress. "This has been a dream of mine to become a head coach of a top-level wrestling program and to have an opportunity to do at my alma mater has me very excited and ready to lead this program into the next chapter. Make no mistake; I am following the greatest coach ever in the history of YCP wrestling. However, I look forward to tackling that challenge and continuing the great tradition that YCP wrestling has established."
Bastress is very familiar to the Spartan program. He was a two-time NCAA Division III National Champion at 184 pounds, capturing the titles in 2005 and 2006. He went 40-0 his senior year en route to his second title. For his three-year Spartan career, Bastress went 97-6 and owned an overall collegiate mark of 114-21.
Saikia believes Bastress was a natural choice to lead the York program.
"We are very proud and fortunate to have such a qualified successor as Duane come from within our program. His accomplishments, dedication, and work ethic are awesome examples for our student-athletes. We believe his time working with Coach Kessler has prepared him for this advancement, and we look forward to many more years of York College wrestling success with Coach Bastress at the helm."
Coach Kessler is pleased to see Bastress get a chance to lead the program.
"I'm very happy and excited for Duane to get the opportunity to continue the tradition and success of the York College wrestling program, which I have no doubt he will do. He has been an assistant coach for six seasons and is no doubt ready to move this program forward."
During Bastress's six years on the Spartan bench next to Kessler, York has accumulated a mark of 102-50-2 including a school-record 25 victories last winter. He has coached four wrestlers that have achieved six All-American finishes at the NCAA Championships. He was named the 2012 NWCA Division III National Assistant Coach of the Year and will be inducted into the NWCA Division III National Hall of Fame in March at this year's national championships.
Taking over the reigns from Kessler has a special meaning for Bastress.
"Words can not describe what Coach Kessler has done for me over the years. He recruited me to York and then made sure I pushed myself on and off the mat. I remember to this day him saying to my dad, "I don't want him for just a semester, I want him to graduate from here." That statement shows you the kind of coach and man that Coach Kessler is! He has always wanted the best for his student-athletes. Being an assistant coach under him for the last six years, I have witnessed what it takes to lead a successful program and what it takes to become a great coach. I am forever in debt to Coach Kessler for what he has done for me. I want to look back on my coaching career one day and say that my successes were because of the principles that Coach Kessler instilled in me as a student-athlete and then as an assistant coach."
Saikia believes Bastress's credentials allow the Spartan program to maintain continuity and excellence.
"Wrestling is a unique sport with a narrower appeal than many--those who participate and excel, are truly a special breed. With the strong tradition of our program, introducing Duane as our head coach ensures continuity and continues a legacy of leaders with those special characteristics. In addition, Duane has been very instrumental in our recruiting efforts, which is invaluable."
The attitude that Bastress had on the mat has carried over to his coaching philosophy.
"The things that I want to accomplish as the next head coach is to continue the tradition of YCP wrestling and lead the program to levels that it has never been. The plan is simple; out work and out hustle the competition. I plan on bringing back more top five finishes at the NCAA championships and a national team championship to York. I also aspire to have several All-Americans both academically and on the mat. As the head coach, I want my student-athletes to experience what I experienced as a student athlete. The thrill, culmination, and satisfaction of winning at the NCAA national championships! The out work, out hustle, & out condition your opponent mantra will serve us well. This has always been my mentality and this will be my coaching staff and student-athletes mentality. The type of wrestlers that I want are, first and foremost, great students. I want wrestlers who are not satisfied with just winning but want to dominate their opponent in every aspect! We have one goal and that's to become NCAA All-Americans and national champions! Our student-athletes must COMMIT TO THE SPARTAN for us to achieve these goals!"
Bastress and the Spartans conclude their regular season on February 15 with a trip to Elizabethtown. York then heads to Ada, Ohio to participate in the NCAA Regional Qualifier at Ohio Northern University on March 1 and 2.