Wrestling Great Returns to ODU as an Assistant

November 15, 2003
By ODU Athletics
ODU Sports

Nov. 15, 2003

After going 33-0 in the Colonial Athletic Association during his four-year career, former wrestling great Jeff Rusak returns to Old Dominion to help his alma mater chalk up more victories. This time his help will come from ringside.

"He's a good addition to our program. We're glad to have him. He's probably one of the hardest workers we've ever had," head coach Gray Simons said when describing Rusak, the newest addition to the Old Dominion wrestling coaching staff.

"He's been out a year, so he's still pretty competitive," coach added. "He fits in. Of course he had a good career here, so guys respect him for what he's done."

"I'm looking forward to this year," Rusak said. " It's my first year coaching, so I have a lot to learn."

Luckily for the Monarchs, Rusak has had plenty of on-the-mat success to help his coaching career.

The two-time CAA wrestling champion and four-time NCAA Tournament qualifier returns to ODU as an assistant coach. At the culmination of his career, Rusak boasted a 135-19 record, going 35-2 with 19 pins his senior year in 2002.

"My work ethic both inside and outside the ring should really help the team," he said. "I hate to lose. It doesn't matter what I do-sprints or anything else-I don't want to be second or third. Hopefully, that attitude will help me become a successful coach.

Rusak also had one of the best coaches to learn from in Gray Simons.

"He's considered one of the all-time best," Rusak said about his former collegiate coach. "Simons believes in you, and he lets you do your own stuff. He just fine tunes and corrects your mistakes along the way."

With 17 freshmen, 7 sophomores, and two first-year coaches, Old Dominion features one of the youngest teams in the CAA. Rusak and Gray know they have a lot of work a head of them for a team that was picked to finish eighth in the conference. But they're up to the challenge.

"We have a young crowd this year, but that's not going to stop us," he said. "It's always better to be the underdog. Everyone's not gunning for you."

But Rusak always has room for optimism.

"I look forward to a good season. I think if we keep working the guys hard, we're going to surprise a lot of people."