Jon Sioredas, former assistant wrestling coach at University of Tennessee-Chattanooga and Old Dominion, is the new head coach at Grand Canyon University, as TheOpenMat.com amateur wrestling website and “The Chattanoogan” newspaper reported Tuesday.
Sioredas replaces R.C. LaHaye, hired as the first-ever GCU head wrestling coach in 2007. LaHaye and assistant Larry Wilbanks were abruptly dismissed from their positions in mid July. In a terse, 50-word statement posted at the Antelope wrestling website, the school said the two coaches “had been dismissed for violation of institutional policy” without further explanation.
That’s not the only challenge facing Sioredas, as he helps guide Grand Canyon through its continuing transition into NCAA Division I. The ‘Lopes wrestled in D1 for the first time last season after having competed in NCAA Division II, but are not eligible for post-season competition for another three seasons. Grand Canyon will continue to compete in the NCWA (National College Wrestling Association) for postseason championship competition. The Lopes won the 2014 NCWA Championship with four individual champions.
The move to the Southwest will be a significant change of scenery for Sioredas, having wrestled and coached in the East. He was a 2000 Virginia Group AAA state champion at 140 pounds for Great Bridge High School, competing for then coach Steve Martin.
After launching his college mat career at University of Missouri, Sioredas transferred to Chattanooga. A 2005 NCAA All-American for the Mocs at 165 pounds, Sioredas was also a two-time Southern Conference champion.
After graduation, Sioredas returned to his native Virginia, serving as an assistant coach at Old Dominion for five seasons under his high school coach Steve Martin. He then returned to UTC, reuniting with his college coach Heath Eslinger as an assistant coach the last two seasons.
“My goal has been to be a head wrestling coach at the college level and I am excited to be the new head coach at Grand Canyon University,” Sioredas told “The Chattanoogan”. "Grand Canyon is a perfect fit for me. With the wrestling program being fully funded from scholarships to operating budgets I can focus on coaching and recruiting."
“This is a great opportunity for me as Grand Canyon is a for profit institution with all 22 varsity teams fully funded,” Sioredas continued. “Wrestling has the full allotment of 9.9 scholarships, state-of-the-art facilities and great travel and operating budgets.”
Located in Phoenix, Grand Canyon University was founded in 1949. It is a four-year, private Christian university with an enrollment of approximately 40,000 students. As Jason Bryant wrote in his article for TheOpenMat.com announcing Sioredas’ hiring, “Grand Canyon is unique in the collegiate sports landscape because it’s a for-profit institution. The campus is undergoing significant improvements and expansion. The athletic department is also preparing itself for the move to Division I with two high-profile head coaches within the school. NBA All-Star Dan Majerle is the men’s basketball coach while former Major League Baseball player Andy Stankiewicz is the head coach of the baseball program.”