Dylan Cottrell guided Glenville State to a top-10 finish at the 2023 NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships in just the program's third season of competition. The program crowned its first-ever national champion and advanced two wrestlers to the national finals.
Cottrell, a three-time NCAA Division I national qualifier as a competitor, was named the program's first head coach in March of 2020, right before the COVID pandemic started. The West Virginia wrestling great has quickly built Glenville State into a trophy-contending NCAA Division II wrestling program. After qualifying two wrestlers to the national tournament in 2022, Glenville State qualified five wrestlers to the national tournament in 2023. In addition, the Pioneers went 16-9 in dual meets and 4-0 against Mountain East Conference teams. Glenville State finished second at the MEC Wrestling Championships and fourth in the Super Regional III.
MatBoss caught up with Cottrell and talked to him about building the program, theMatBoss caught up with Cottrell and talked to him about building the program, their two national finalists, wrestling for Sammie Henson, transfers, recruiting, expectations and more.ir two national finalists, wrestling for Sammie Henson, transfers, recruiting, expectations and more.
What initially attracted you to the opportunity to coach a new program at Glenville State?
Cottrell: Initially I'd kind of gotten out of coaching. I was at Brown University. I was a regional training athlete and volunteering at Brown. I decided to move home and do my master's. I was pursuing my master's and had just finished it and I got a call from the athletic director at Glenville who told me they were starting the program. A couple of people had called and threw my name in. So I thought, 'Why not? Let's go interview. It's close to home. I haven't been home in a while.' I ended up going down there and really liking the opportunity, liking the fact that it was back in West Virginia, and it was something that I would get to build from the ground up.
You were hired right when a global pandemic was starting. What was that first year like trying to build a program with all the challenges that came with the pandemic?
Cottrell: To be honest, we probably shouldn't have done our first year. We had some highlights. We got a lot better. We beat a couple teams here and there in our conference. I think I got hired on like March 6. The pandemic started the 11th, so I didn't even get a move into my office for a month and a half. They didn't have any coaches. So by the time March was done, recruiting was pretty much done. So the first year we were really just piecing together. We had a couple of kids from the football team. We had a couple kids that were just on campus that had shown interest. To be honest, what really helped us get going the first year was the fact that Urbana dropped its program because of the pandemic. So I was able to get to two of my best wrestlers from that year, Alec Fulwider and Cole Houser. So they really were our big first recruits that we got in and it was kind of able to jumpstart everything and allow us to win a little bit that year and really into our second year.
This past season, in only the program's third season of competition, you guided Glenville State to a top-10 finish at the NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships. You produced a national champion and two national finalists. Did you think you could have this kind of success this soon?
Cottrell: If I'm being honest, no. You usually look at that five-year mark. I knew I could do it a little bit faster than most people in the area because of all the connections I have in West Virginia. And then also with WVU, which has been a huge part. We get a lot of dropdowns from WVU that have helped us. I've had four or five in my program. I actually just got two transfers committed within this week that were former WVU wrestlers. I knew that I could kind of use my name. I was a four-time state champion in the state. I knew a bunch of the high school coaches still. Some of the high school coaches now are guys that I wrestled with, so I knew the connection was going to be good and I can recruit in the state. But going into it, no, I thought it was going to take a little longer. The thing that's really, really helped us is recruiting is definitely my jam and the transfer portal has been huge for us. I've been able to use it the right way. So we focus really on bringing in the top talent in the state and then we'll bring in a couple of transfers to plug in those areas of guys leaving. So that way we're building for that longevity of a team with the freshmen coming in that we can develop. And then we're also bringing in those older guys to kind of help lead the younger guys, and then also someone that is already developed that we don't have to work with as much. They're really ready to go. I think more than anything, me being from the state, and the transfer portal is really what's kind of expedited us getting into that top 10.
Gavin Quiocho won a national championship at 133 pounds. What makes him such a great competitor?
Cottrell: Consistency. He does everything right. I think there's a point in all athletes' careers where they understand that there's only one way to do it and that's the hard way. He bought in to everything. He cut his weight right. He's a huge 133-pounder. Last year as a freshman he started for us at 157 pounds a couple matches at the start of the year, and then dropped to 149 pounds. The plan was this year was to go 141 pounds. He came in and his weight was really good. He started getting down to 136-137 pounds at the end of practice. Good energy. My assistant coach Andreatta and I talked to him and said, 'Hey, it's up to you, but if you can make 133 pounds you're going to be a real problem.' So I think by the second half of the year he started to figure out how to cut his weight. He wasn't having problems with it but I think he was really figuring out how to do it and feel really optimal at the weight class. And it showed. It started to get to where in those later matches that you could just see physically that he was stronger, I don't want to say more mature, but he was just kind of bullying guys around with how strong he naturally is at the weight. So I think that was a big part of it. It was really just figuring out for him what worked post weigh in. But he did everything right. He's a 4.0 student. He's a great kid. He works out with our youth guys and helps out. He does stuff in the community. Proof is in the pudding with that kind of stuff. He does everything right, leads the right way and the results follow for him.
Jared Campbell had a remarkable season, finishing as a national runner-up at heavyweight. It was his first season in your program. He previously competed for Notre Dame College. How did he end up at Glenville State?
Cottrell: As you mentioned, Jared was at Notre Dame. My college roommate was Cory Stainbrook, who was actually Jared's assistant at Notre Dame. So I reached out to Jared and had that third-party connection of some Ohio guys. I was around a lot of those guys growing up. I wrestled on Ohio national teams with all those guys, so I had three or four people that knew Jared. I had already talked to Jared before when he was in the transfer portal. So I already had a previous connection with him. He was just kind of moving on with his life after the pandemic. I just reached out to him. He said, 'Hey, I have been having an itch to wrestle so let me think about it. We just kind of kept having conversations about what he really wanted to do. We kind of set up a game plan for him. He's an older guy and it had to be a little bit different than the normal recruiting. We just made sure that we had a solid plan for him and allowed him to get back in the room the way that he wanted to. And the way that was correct. Jared was super consistent for us. He was probably our most dominant guy for the year. He just had a had a really tough competitor in his weight class. They had great matches. Jared was phenomenal and super dominant. It was really fun to coach that guy this year.
You had a successful college wrestling career. Three-time NCAA qualifier. Round of 12. Two-time conference champion. You battled some injuries. How do you view your college wrestling career?
Cottrell: I don't really think about it too much anymore because now I'm just so involved with our guys. I had my time and it's their time now. I was happy with what I did. Not being an All-American was hard. I knew I was talented enough to do it. Yeah, injuries, this and that, but that's college wrestling. It's a grind and at the same time that's life. Things are not always going to go your way even though you did all the right things. I put in the work. I was happy with the work I put in and the different things that I did to get there. We talk with our guys a lot about attitude and effort. That's the stuff you can control. Wins and losses, you really can't. My attitude, my effort, and my training were all great. When I look back on it, it was a great time. I had big wins. I beat Chandler Rogers. I beat Hayden Hidlay. I beat David McFadden. So I knew deep down that I could be an All-American. I was that caliber of wrestler. It just wasn't in the cards for me. It didn't happen. But at the same time, it's a great learning experience for me. I talk with our guys about it and let them know they have to make sure they are willing to put in the sacrifices, knowing that it might not pay off. Then on the flip side of it, our assistant was a national champion at Adams State two seasons ago. So we kind of have both spectrums of it. We can talk to our guys about the winning side and coming up short and the things you have to do, and understand it's not given. You have to put that work in every day to get there.
What was it like wrestling for Sammie Henson?
Cottrell: Sammie was pretty much walking intensity, but Sammie was my favorite coach ever. I'll say to this day, there's no one close that I've been around that is anywhere near his technique. His technique is flawless. He's an amazing technician. Great dude. He was definitely there for his wrestlers. He went to bat for us. It was awesome. I loved transferring and wrestling for Sammie for my two years. It was a great time. He took care of me. We did a lot of cool things together. He molded me into a lot of what I do now as a coach, pushing guys, and a lot of the techniques that I show -- little ins and outs that I think help our guys, that a lot of other coaches don't know, was stuff that I took from Sammy. So he's helped me a lot, not only in just my own wrestling career, but in my coaching career as well.
You added transfer Nick Copley from Sacred Heart at 197 pounds. What are your expectations for him and some of the other transfers you added?
Cottrell: Nick Copley was kind of a spot starter for Sacred Heart this past season. He got hurt and was out, but a very talented kid. Someone who's grown a lot in his two years up there at college and gotten a lot better. We're expecting him to come in at 197 pounds and do a lot of great things. And then we got Isaiha Casto. He was at West Virginia for a year, transferred out to West Virginia Tech for an engineering degree to kind of change things up. He reached the blood round this year at 184 pounds in NAIA, so he had a great year. I think getting him in a program that's a little more polished is going to be great for him. He just didn't have the partners for his level. I think he's going to do big things this year and get on the podium. And then we just got a big transfer at 125 pounds from WVU, Colton Drousias. He was a multiple-time state placer in Illinois. Illinois state champ. He spot started at 125 pounds this year when Killian was out. He's super solid and he's going to have a great year at 125 pounds. We are talking to some other Division I kids and some NAIA kids.
Do you expect any of the freshmen coming in to challenge for spots in your lineup next season?
Cottrell: Yeah, we have a bunch of talented freshmen coming in. Ethan Osborne was the Dutton Award winner, which is the state's top senior wrestler. He's going to come in at 157 pounds. I expect him to really push for a spot. We also picked up Kolbie Hamilton from Fairmont, which is a local school. He was a state champ this year at 144 pounds. He will probably be at 149 pounds or maybe 141 pounds. He's a two-time state champ. Both of those kids are super athletic, super tough, and they've been in the room on open mats. They already can push some of our guys and that's without really getting coached up. Around December is when you really see what they're going to be. The DII committee is trying to get the redshirt rule like Division I had this year. I'm really hoping that that gets adopted and DII and we can kind of play around with those freshmen the first half and see if they are ready or would benefit more from a redshirt. I think that's a great rule that needs to be implemented across all the divisions.
You obviously return a strong team. What are your expectations for this team in 2022-23?
Cottrell: We talked about this. We have four goals on our team for next year. It's win our conference, win our region, win the NCAA title, and then continue to have a team GPA above 3.0. So our guys are bought in. We kind of talked about it, even some at the end of last year. We had two really good guys leaving, but I pretty much told the guys, everyone comes back, I'm going to put in a good recruiting class. We're going to go for it. We're looking to be on top of the podium and win a national title. If we fall a little bit short and still raise a team trophy at the end of the year, that would be great. We have the talent to do it. But those top two teams are tough right now. Lander is doing pretty much the same thing we're doing. They're doing a really good job in the transfer portal. They're doing a really good job with their freshmen and they're a year ahead of us with their program. So they had a full year before COVID, which really helped them. And then you have UCO who has pretty much Division I funding. They've been kind of one of those powerhouses for a long time. So you have to find a way to be able to match those guys. I think we can do it. I think we have the talent to do it. We just have to make sure we get these guys in here and the new guys bought into the system. They have to understand that talent isn't just going to win a national title. We have to put in a lot of hard work. We have to stay healthy. We have to all be on the same track. We have to bring everybody up and make sure we're ready to go win a national title.