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Alex Clemsen joins Missouri mat staff as head assistant coach

Alex Clemsen is the new head assistant coach at University of Missouri
Alex Clemsen is the new head assistant coach at University of MissouriPhoto courtesy of University of Missouri, used with permission

Friday the 13th proved lucky for Alex Clemsen, as the former Edinboro All-American wrestler and University of Virginia assistant coach is now a member of the University of Missouri mat staff as head assistant, Mizzou head coach Brian Smith announced Friday.

Clemsen replaces Sammie Henson, who until one month ago had been head assistant for the Missouri Tigers for the past two seasons until accepting the head coaching position at West Virginia University.

It’s a homecoming of sorts for Clemsen, a native of Moberly, Mo. who won three Missouri high school state titles for his school about a half-hour north of the Missouri campus, but whose college career took him to Pennsylvania to wrestle, then to Oregon and Virginia as a coach.

"I've known Alex for a long time, going back to my first years at Mizzou when he came to our camps," said coach Smith. "I've watched him compete, very successfully, at the collegiate level and I've watched him grow as a coach, first at Oregon State then at the University of Virginia. I also had the opportunity to mentor him through the NWCA Leadership Academy, and he has really matured into one of the elite coaches in the nation. Not only that, but he has aspirations to be a head coach, a quality I'm always looking for."

"Alex has always been interested in the Missouri program, and really believes in what Tiger Style is about," Smith continued. "His wife's family is from Columbia [home to University of Missouri] and he's from Moberly. Having family close by makes it easier on a coach's family. Alex brings a lot of energy and excitement to the program and has done an outstanding job recruiting with Coach Steve Garland at Virginia. He has built a lot of great relationships with the team at Virginia and I'm sure it wasn't easy for him to leave. We're really excited to have him here at Mizzou!"

As head assistant coach for the past five years at Virginia, Clemsen helped coach 38 NCAA qualifiers, six All-Americans and eight ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) champions. During Clemsen’s tenure at the Charlottesville school, the Cavaliers reach No. 11 in the nation during the 2012-13 season, which stands as a program-best ranking, and assisted the team to its first ACC team title since 1977.

With Clemsen on staff, the Cavaliers were also winners in the classroom. Virginia wrestlers scored the fifth-best team GPA in the country during the 2012-13 season. That year, eight Cavaliers were named to the NWCA All-Academic Team; the previous season, seven UVa wrestlers earned a place on that team.

Prior to his time at Virginia, Clemsen served as the director of wrestling operations at Oregon State for two seasons.

As a wrestler at Edinboro University, Clemson found success on the mat and in the classroom. The Fighting Scot was a four-time NCAA qualifier, earning All-American honors by placing fourth at 184 pounds at the 2007 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships. Clemsen also was a four-time Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) champ, and was an Eastern Wrestling League (EWL) titlewinner as well. In addition, Clemsen was a two-time Academic All-American, graduating in 2007 with the highest GPA of any wrestler in Edinboro history.

Clemsen is eager to return to his home state.

"I would like to thank Coach Smith, Mr. Alden and Ms. Reesman for giving me the opportunity to bring my family home to Missouri and my hometown region," Clemsen said. "I'm very excited to finally be a Tiger. Missouri is going to continue to compete to be a national power, and helping Brian continue to create an atmosphere when men can grow in all areas while also winning matches is going to be a lot of fun. I encourage those who may have followed me during my high school career to come out to the Hearnes Center and support Missouri this season."