Longtime SJU Assistant Takes Over Wrestling Program
COLLEGEVILLE, Minn. – Kevin Schiltz, a 16-year assistant wrestling coach at Saint John’s University, has been named head coach of the Johnnies’ program, athletic director Bob Alpers ’82 announced on Thursday, July 20.
Schiltz replaces Tony Willaert ’11, who was named head wrestling coach at Augustana College (Ill.) June 22. Schiltz will continue to serve as the SJU athletic department’s equipment manager.
“I am thankful for this opportunity to be the head wrestling coach at Saint John’s University,” Schiltz said. “I believe that I have a strong foundation here to build a program that everyone can be proud of.”
Schiltz’s tenure as an assistant coach at SJU covered three different head coaches: John Elton ’80 (2000-04), Brandon Novak ’01 (2004-14) and Willaert (2014-16). In total, the program produced 18 All-Americans, including national champions Novak and Minga Batsukh ’11 (three-time), and 53 national qualifiers in those 16 seasons.
“We are thrilled that Kevin has accepted our head coaching position,” SJU athletic director Bob Alpers ’82 said. “We had some outstanding candidate for the position, but Kevin’s combination of experience, both as a decorated wrestler and assistant coach, proves that he is the right person to lead this program. Our commitment to wrestling is strong and we are excited for the future of the program.”
A native of Albert Lea, Minn., and the 1988 Minnesota state high school champion at 185 pounds, Schiltz was a three-time High School All-American in both freestyle and Greco-Roman. He graduated from Augsburg in 1993 and was a member of two NCAA Division III national-championship teams with the Auggies (1991 and 1993). He was also a two-year starter on both the offensive and defensive lines for the Auggies’ football team.
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Individually, Schiltz compiled a 150-28 record and was a rare four-time Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference champion and national qualifier, of which he earned All-America honors three times (third nationally at 190 pounds in 1989, fifth at 190 in 1990 and sixth at heavyweight in 1993). He finished fifth at the 1989 collegiate freestyle national championships and was inducted into the Augsburg Athletic Hall of Fame in September 2016.
Following graduation, Schiltz competed as an amateur on the national stage, finishing seventh at the 1997 U.S. Men’s Open (freestyle).
He started his coaching career as an assistant for two seasons (1996-98) at Division I Virginia and returned to Minnesota to serve as an assistant for one season at Division II St. Cloud State in 1999 before joining SJU.
“I have spent the last 33 years living in the wrestling community. I have had experience coaching at the Division I, II and III levels as an assistant under many head coaches,” Schiltz said. “I have seen what it takes to build a great program. I am going to work diligently with the current wrestlers and I look forward to recruit young men that will thrive in this community.”
Schiltz is the first non-SJU graduate to lead the wrestling program since Jim Lind, who coached the Johnnies for two seasons from 1979-81. Lind later served as an assistant football coach with the Green Bay Packers from 1992-98, and later the Seattle Seahawks from 2000-08.
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