Jeren Glosser is leading one of the nation's top Division III wrestling programs, Loras University, just two years after finishing his collegiate wrestling career at the University of Iowa. Glosser was elevated to head wrestling coach at Loras in May after spending last season as an assistant coach in the program. He inherits a program that is expected to contend for a national title at the 2023 NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships.
MatBoss caught up with Glosser and talked to him about the transition from assistant coach to head coach, competing for Tom Brands at Iowa, importance of freestyle, expectations and more.
You were elevated to head wrestling coach at Loras in May. What has the transition been like going from an assistant coach to a head coach?
Glosser: It has been a little crazy. Just kind of these ins and outs of little things you don't really realize it as an assistant. Then you're thrown to the wolves a little bit, you got to figure it out. So it's a day-by-day thing, figuring it out and keep moving forward.
You're 25 years old and one of the youngest coaches in college wrestling. You were competing at the same time as some of the athletes you're coaching. Do you think your age helps you relate better to your wrestlers?
Glosser: Yeah, I think so. It definitely helps a lot being freshly done with college and just knowing what guys are going through.
After your collegiate wrestling career, you spent a season coaching William Penn University, an NAIA program. What did you take away from that experience?
Glosser: It was good. I enjoyed coaching with Coach Scott and learning more of the coaching side of things. It really made me hungry to be back in wrestling. After I got done at Iowa I was kind of ready for a break from wrestling. I took some time off. Obviously, it was COVID times too. I got out during the COVID season. So I think it just got me hungry to get back in the wrestling room again and be around the wrestling world again. Obviously, the gig as an assistant at Loras opened up and I ended up coming up this direction.
Expectations were high at Loras last season. You were ranked in the top five for most of the season. Went 12-1 dual in meets. Ended up finishing 11th at NCAA Championships with two All-Americans. What was the overall feeling leaving the national tournament?
Glosser: I think everyone was a little disappointed. I think we just have high expectations here. The goal is to win the national title and the goal is to win the national title at every single weight class. So there's always going to be some disappointments and learning how to deal with that a little bit. But I think we just had high goals, and we didn't quite get to where we wanted to be. We got some guys that are motivated and putting in the work on their own. And I think some guys are really hungry to come back this season and compete.
You competed at Iowa and compiled a 74-19 career record. What was it like wrestling for Tom Brands at Iowa? What kind of coach is he?
Glosser: He's great. He's the best. He taught me a lot about how to take care of guys, be there for them and be a good wrestling coach. He's obviously a very strong competitor, which I learned a lot about too. But overall just a great person. He's going to take care of you. Whatever you need. That's how I want to be as a coach too. Just be there for your athletes and push them to be the best that they can be. Sometimes kids have to realize they're 18-19-20 years old and don't always know what's best for themselves. So sometimes there's some hard lessons in there. Tom was awesome. Tom and Terry both. They're both great people. Really, the whole coaching staff has been great to me even after I left there.
You were on some really great Iowa teams and teammates with all-time greats like Spencer Lee. When you reflect on your career at Iowa, what stands out? What will you remember most in 20 years?
Glosser: That's tough. I think just being around a lot of high-level competitors and learning what it's like to compete at a high level. Seeing people go through that training process and then trying and replicate it yourself. I'll just remembering being around those guys. There are a lot of very personal memories with each of those guys that are really special to me. Think that's the biggest thing. It was a lot of fun and high-level competition. In 2020 going we had a good shot at winning nationals, but COVID canceled it. So that stinks. It gives a bad taste in your mouth. But now it's moving forward, doing my own thing right and trying to replicate what those guys would do over there at Iowa at the DIII level with Loras.
In August, you announced the addition of former Loras wrestler Kirk Mommsen to your coaching staff. What does he bring to the table?
Glosser: He's great. He knows Loras. Obviously, he's a Loras grad. He's very personable. I think he's going to do a really good job recruiting. He gets along with the guys really, really well. We're by far the youngest wrestling coaching staff in college right now. So it's exciting. We're both hungry. We both want to win. We're both willing to go out there and recruit and get good guys. We already have really good guys on the team as well. So it's just about developing them and moving forward. He brings so much to the table. He's going to do an excellent job with it. He already is doing a really good job with it.
Wartburg, Loras and Coe have been the top teams in the American Rivers Conference in recent years, but programs like Central, Luther and Dubuque have always been solid. What are thoughts on the American Rivers Conference as a whole?
Glosser: It's tough. It's the toughest conference in Division III. It's great competition. We always say if you can get through the regional, half the battle is then to become an All-American. Just because our regional is that strong, which really stinks when you go from the DI level where we have RPI and automatic qualifiers. I wish that's something that Division III would look at. There are people that are national champions one year and don't make it through the regional the next year. It makes that regional awesome wrestling. You get a great crowd there. It's high tension. It's high intensity. It's awesome. It's going to be another year where competition is pretty packed between us, Coe and Wartburg. We'll see who comes out on top. It's always fun.
Last season, you had seven wrestlers compete in freestyle at the U.S. Open. How important is freestyle to your program? Is it something you stress?
Glosser: I really like it. I think it helps grow you as a wrestler tremendously. We had Zeb Gnida become an All-American at the U20s, which is huge. Not a ton of Division III wrestlers have done that. I think he's the first in our program's history. That speaks volumes to the work he's put in during the spring. Now he's the guy that's looking at being in the lineup for us this year. So I think development-wise it's huge. In Greco, we have Guy Patron, who is a four-time All-American. He's still competing at the senior level. He was an All-American at the Senior U.S. Open in Greco. Brady Vogel, who has moved on and is coaching now, was an All-American in Greco. So just trying to push those things. I think it's good for the brand. I think it shows we want to compete at a high level. The goal is to grow, to be a wrestling club where you can get kids from all over the place to come in here and train freestyle and Greco. Wil Kelly is going to run the DWC side of things because I can't run practices in the offseason, obviously with Division III rules. He's going to run all those practices and go out to Vegas with the guys, so it will be really good.
Jacob Krakow finished his career by placing third at the national tournament at 174 pounds. He defeated Wartburg’s Zane Mulder in sudden victory in his final match. What was it like for you as coach working closely with Jacob?
Glosser: It's kind of funny. We have known each other since high school. We're kind of from the same area, southeast Iowa. He's probably about 45 minutes north of me. So I've known him forever. I actually followed him quite a bit when I was at Iowa, just because he was a smalltown kid that I knew. But it was a lot of fun coaching him. He's a tough kid. Put a lot of work in during the offseason and on his own. He's tough. Comes from a tough family and he's fun to coach. He had a really good run at the national tournament. You always hope that you end on top, but him coming back again to place third speaks volumes to the type of kid he is. You get your heart ripped out. You get your goal taken away from you. But for him to battle back and finish third, I was proud of him. I still am proud to this day.
Shane Liegel has been one of the nation's top 184-pounders for the past few seasons. Won an NWCA national title in 2021. Was seeded No. 2 at the national tournament last season and placed fourth. What does he need to do to finish on top this season?
Glosser: He needs to be himself and just go out there and compete. I think he gets too caught up in his head sometimes. But Shane Liegel is a tough wrestler. When he competes his best, he can beat the best. That's the message. He's been working his butt off. He'll be in here running and stuff and I'm like, 'Dude, you got to chill out a little bit.' He's hungry. So it's good. I think he's put the work in now. It's just about going out, competing and having fun with it. He has to stay healthy. That's important. He's getting to the older part of his career and health has never been an issue. When you start getting older you got to train a little bit differently. He just has to go out and compete. Let it fly. Be himself. That's the message to him this year. Leave it all out there.
Wyatt Wriedt was an NWCA national champion at heavyweight in 2021. Suffered an injury last season. How is he looking right now? And what do you expect from him this season?
Glosser: He's looking really good. He's getting healthy. He's coming back. He's doing his rehab. I'm excited for him to compete this year. He competed with guys like Reeves from Coe for a long time and it's always been close. A back-and-forth type of deal. So we're going to have to get ready to go, but the goal is to win a national title with him. That's the goal for everyone. It's a matter of what we have to do to get there. Obviously, Shane and Wyatt are both huge pieces to a championship run for us.
You obviously have a strong team returning, what are your expectations for this year's team?
Glosser: We can win a national championship. I think we have the right pieces. We have some guys that can win national championships and we're going to have guys who can be All-Americans. It really takes two national champions and two or three All-Americans to win a Division III national title if you look at the past scores. Obviously, the goal is to get 10. That's always your goal. But I think it's not a farfetched thing for us to win a national championship this year. We have a seniority-driven class of guys. There are a few weights we're still figuring out but for the most part they're all returners. We have seven All-Americans returning if we're counting NWCA All-Americans. So we have to go out and perform. We have to peak at the right time and keep guys healthy. If we do that, we're going to be there on that last day competing for a national title.