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Ex-Illini wrestler, Stanford assistant Alex Tirapelle new head coach at Penn

New Penn head wrestling coach Alex Tirapelle
New Penn head wrestling coach Alex Tirapelle
Photo courtesy University of Pennsylvania, used with permission

Alex Tirapelle, University of Illinois All-American wrestler and Stanford assistant coach, has been named head wrestling coach at University of Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia-based Ivy League school announced Monday, July 21.

Tirapelle takes the reins of the Quaker mat program after former head coach Rob Eiter announced his resignation in late May after six seasons. Two weeks ago, Eiter became an assistant coach at University of Maryland.

For the past four seasons, Tirapelle has been an assistant at Stanford University. Tirapelle helped guide 14 wrestlers to the NCAA Championships, with five earning NCAA All-American honors. Just last season, Tirapelle helped guide the program to its best dual-season record in school history with a 17-5 mark in 2013-14. In addition, last season saw five wrestlers compete at the 2014 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, tying the school record. Four of those NCAA qualifiers last season were Pac-12 champions, also a school record.

During Tirapelle’s tenure, Stanford wrestlers also performed impressively in the classroom. Last season, the Cardinal ranked No. 8 among all Division I programs in team GPA and had two wrestlers named National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) All-Academic. One of those individuals, Kyle Meyer, also earned a Pac-12 Postgraduate Scholarship. In the past four seasons, Stanford has had 30 wrestlers earn Pac-12 All-Academic honors.

Prior to his time at Stanford, Tirapelle served as an assistant coach at UC-Davis for two seasons. While with the Aggies, Tirapelle coached one Pac-12 champion and six NCAA qualifiers. In addition, two wrestlers earned Pac-12 All-Academic honors.

Stellar wrestling career

As a wrestler at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Tirapelle was a two-time NCAA All-American, and a two-time Big Ten conference champ, earning Big Ten Wrestler of the Year honors in 2004. He also earned a number of academic honors, including Big Ten All-Academic honoree all four years, a first-team NWCA All-Academic selection, and first-team ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-American. In addition, Tirapelle earned an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship.

Before enrolling at Illinois, Tirapelle was a three-time California state champ for Clovis High School, one of the premier programs in the nation.

"I am excited to welcome Alex to Penn," said Director of Recreation and Intercollegiate Athletics, M. Grace Calhoun. "During the interview process, his accomplishments both as a wrestler and as a coach stood out. He enjoyed a stellar collegiate wrestling career at Illinois, and over the last few years he has developed a solid reputation as a strong recruiter and coach. Working at an institution like Stanford these last four years also gives Alex a good idea of the kind of student-athlete he will be expected to recruit and coach at Penn. Under the leadership of Deputy Athletics Director Alanna Shanahan, we underwent an exhaustive process to ensure we found the best possible fit with the standards of this high-profile program going forward. I think our athletes, alums and fans will be excited by the future direction of the program under Alex's leadership."

“I want to thank Grace Calhoun, Alanna Shanahan, and the rest of the search committee for selecting me to be the new head wrestling coach at the University of Pennsylvania,” said Tirapelle. “It is an honor to have the opportunity to advance the already exceptional legacy of Penn wrestling. In addition to Olympic medalists, NCAA champions and NCAA All-Americans, Penn wrestling produces outstanding citizens and some of the country's most prominent leaders. While wrestling success will always be a primary goal of the Penn program, for our student-athletes it is a milestone accomplishment rather than their pinnacle achievement.”

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