Irwin Repeats as MEC Male Coach of the Year
BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. – West Liberty University head wrestling coach Danny Irwin has been selected as the Mountain East Conference Men’s Sports Coach of the Year for the second straight year in voting by the conference’s institutional administrators and the league office.
Irwin’s nationally-ranked Hilltoppers made conference, regional and national headlines over the course of yet another spectacularly successful season. After hosting and dominating the MEC Championships for the second straight year, Irwin’s Black and Gold breezed to their second consecutive Super Region 3 title before powering their way to a third-place finish at the NCAA D2 Nationals.
Eight of Irwin’s wrestlers qualified to compete at Nationals and five of them returned to campus as NCAA Division II All-Americans. MEC Wrestler of the Year Cole Laya led the way with his second straight national championship at 125 pounds. Also hitting the podium for West Liberty were Connor Craig, runner-up at 184 pounds for the second straight year; Ty McGeary, third at 174; Ty Warner, fourth at 141 and Logan Kemp, eighth at 197 pounds.
The third-place finish was the Hilltoppers’ highest national finish of the NCAA era and the best in nearly three decades, dating back to a runner-up finish in the 1995 NAIA Nationals. Laya, also honored as the Super Region 3 Wrestler of the Year and now a two-time NCAA Division II Academic All-American is the first repeat national champion in six decades of West Liberty wrestling.
Irwin’s wrestlers also enjoyed a banner year in the classroom with eight Hilltoppers being selected as 2022 NWCA Scholar All-Americans. Laya was honored for the fourth straight year with Craig, McGeary, Jonah Smith and Brett Goff also returning as repeat selections.