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West Virginia’s Henson keeps Felix, hires Marable for wrestling staff

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Sammie Henson, newly hired head wrestling coach at West Virginia University, has completed his coaching staff by retaining Danny Felix and adding former University of Missouri wrestler and coach Nick Marable, the Morgantown, West Virginia school announced Wednesday.

Henson took the helm of the Mountaineer mat program in mid-May, replacing Craig Turnbull, whose contract was not renewed after 36 years in the position.

Missouri’s Marable now a Mountaineer

Nicholas Marable comes to West Virginia after serving as Missouri’s volunteer assistant coach this past season. He helped guide the Tigers to a 14th-place finish in the team standings at the 2014 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, and assisted two Mizzou matmen in earning NCAA All-American honors, including J’den Cox who won the 197-pound title as a true freshman. Prior to his time as volunteer assistant, Marable spent three years as the Tigers’ assistant strength and conditioning coach.

As a Missouri wrestler, Marable was a two-time NCAA All-American at 165 pounds. The Collierville, Tenn. native also won three consecutive Big 12 conference crowns. Marable was awarded Missouri's Hap Whitney Coaches Award honor in 2007, as well as the Most Improved Wrestler award in 2008.

“Nick has gained valuable experience while at the University of Missouri as a wrestler and a coach,” said Henson. “Over the past few years, his work on and off the mat has helped him develop into one of best young assistant coaches in the country. With his knowledge, passion and experience, Nick will bring a lot of energy into the room and has a different perspective and relationship with the athletes because he is still competing on the international stage.”

In addition to his collegiate wrestling and coaching experience in the Big 12 – where West Virginia will be competing for its third season this fall – Marable brings impressive freestyle credentials to the Mountaineers. He is currently USA Wrestling’s top-ranked men’s freestyle wrestler at 70 kilos/154 pounds. Among his accomplishments: defeating 2012 Olympic gold medalist and two-time world champion Jordan Burroughs, snapping the former University of Nebraska mat champ’s 69-match win streak in freestyle.

As freestyle coach at Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club where Marable will continue to compete, Henson knows Marable well.

“Coach Marable has been under my system for two years, and not only has he gained personal success during this time, but he also can convey the system to student-athletes to get the most out of them on and off the mat,” Henson said.

Marable returned the compliment, saying, “I am excited to join West Virginia and Coach Henson’s staff. I have been working with Sammie for the past couple of years and have had the privilege to not only coach with him, but to be coached by him. I am ready to build a legacy at WVU and win some titles.”

Felix stays on staff at West Virginia

Danny Felix will remain on the wrestling coaching staff for the Mountaineers, having served as an assistant coach at West Virginia since 2005, and as a full-time assistant for the past five seasons. Responsible for the lower weight divisions, wrestlers under Felix’s guidance have made 20 trips to the NCAAs, including three in 2014.

Felix contributes experience in both collegiate and freestyle wrestling. As a wrestler at Arizona State, Felix was a three-time Pac-10 conference champ, and earned All-American honors at 118 pounds at the 1995 NCAAs. Among his freestyle accomplishments: earning a place on the U.S. men’s team that competed at the 2009 World Wrestling Championships in Denmark.

Before coming to Morgantown, Felix was the club wrestling coach at the University of Virginia from 2003-05. He jumped into the coaching ranks in 1998 at the University of Oklahoma, where he served as a club coach for two years.

“I'm very grateful and blessed to continue my coaching career at West Virginia University. My family and I could not be more excited to stay connected with the Morgantown community and stay a part of Mountaineer Nation,” said Felix. “I'm truly excited to have coach Sammie Henson lead this program. We have a history and a friendship that started as long-time training partners. It is great how life comes full circle and that we are together again. As I look ahead, I see a bright future for this program. Sammie’s ability to win and motivate will take this team to a new level. With a relentless drive to succeed, we will put a team on the mat that our fans will be excited to watch.”

Coach Henson is equally eager to reconnect with Felix.

“It is my pleasure to have coach Felix as a part of my staff,” said Henson. “With his knowledge of WVU wrestling and the surrounding areas, it will only solidify our recruitment of the best student-athletes in the nation. Our relationship as wrestlers and now as coaches will bring about a true family atmosphere in our room and within the Mountaineer wrestling family.”

It’s been a big week for announcements from West Virginia University. On Tuesday, Joe Heskett, former Iowa State champion wrestler and head coach at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point for the past four years, revealed to College Wrestling Examiner that he would be coming to Morgantown as the new associate athletic director for sports performance.

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