MANHEIM, Pa. – A night before his team starts its quest for a national championship, Johnson & Wales University wrestling head coach Lonnie Morris received his sport's highest honor. The 26-year Wildcat mat boss was named the National Wrestling Coaches Association National Coach of the Year, presented by Defense Soap.
"We are pleased to recognize this year's National Coach of the Year recipient, Lonnie Morris and want to thank him for providing a quality experience for his student-athletes and for being an outstanding role model to our sport," said NWCA Executive Director, Mike Moyer.
Johnson & Wales had a program-best nine wrestlers qualify for the NCAA Championships, March 8-9, in Roanoke, Va. The Wildcats made history by becoming the first New England school to send nine wrestlers and set an NCAA Northeast Regional record by scoring 187 points. It was JWU's third regional title in a row.
This season the Wildcats have a 23-4 dual meet record that includes the first win over Wartburg College at the NWCA National Duals. Johnson & Wales was the first New England team to make the finals of the NWCA Division III Multi-National Duals.
The regional championship was JWU's fourth tournament title of the year to go along with the Roger Williams Invitational, New Standard Invitational and New England Dual Meet Championships. After dominating the competition over the weekend, Morris earned the meet's Coach of the Year Award and Brian Allen was named Assistant Coach of the Year.
A native Rhode Islander, giving back to the wrestling community is also very important to Morris. He and his team are very active in the community service field with over 200 hours spent helping Beat the Streets Providence and conducting many clinics at clubs and high schools throughout the northeast.