ashland.news
May 19, 2024

SOU parade Wednesday celebrated NAIA championship

Members of the SOU women's wrestling team hold up the national championship trophy at a ceremony on campus Wednesday. Bob Palermini photo/palermini.com
March 15, 2023

Women’s wrestling coach Gabrielle Weyhrich named NAIA Coach of the Year

SOU Sports Information

Southern Oregon University first-year leader Gabrielle Weyhrich has been named the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Women’s Wrestling Coach of the Year after guiding the Raiders to a national title over the weekend in Jamestown, North Dakota.

A championship parade celebrating Weyhrich’s Raiders wound Wednesday from SOU’s Education-Psychology Building through campus, ending with a trophy presentation in front of Lithia Motors Pavilion.

The national championship trophy was paraded through the SOU campus Wednesday. Bob Palermini photo/palermini.com

After entering the inaugural NAIA Championships with a No. 3 ranking, SOU captured the title by a margin of 20 ½ team points behind individual champs Grace Kristoff (191 pounds), Carolina Moreno (123) and Emily Se (143). They left with a total of seven All-Americans, a group that also included second-place Joye Levendusky (170), third-place Esthela Trevino (101), and fourth-place Bella Amaro (136) and Natalie Reyna (109).

The 2023 NNAIA ational Champion SOU women’s wrestling team poses for a photo in front of Lithia Motors Pavilion Wednesday. Bob Palermini photo/palermini.com

Weyhrich, who officially joined SOU on May 31, 2022, took the Raiders to new heights in her first-ever head coaching gig. According to USA Wrestling, she is the first woman to lead a college women’s wrestling team to a national tournament championship.

A parade celebrating SOU’s 2023 women’s wrestling national championship crosses Siskiyou Boulevard Wednesday. Bob Palermini photo/palermini.com

Over the last four months, they completed their first undefeated dual season at 8-0; they won their first National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) National Duals championship, upsetting No. 2-ranked Grand View (Iowa) in the final; they claimed their first Cascade Conference title, knocking off back-to-back champion and rival Menlo (California); and they finished the job at the NAIA Championships, producing three more top-four placers than any other team.

SOU women’s wrestling coach Gabrielle Weyhrich addresses the gathering with assistant coach Bob Bergen and SOU president Rick Bailey holding the championship trophy in the background. Bob Palermini photo/palermini.com

“I don’t coach for awards or recognition, but I would be lying if I said receiving the coach of the year award didn’t feel great,” Weyhrich said. “It almost feels surreal that I am the first woman ever to coach a team to a college national title in our sport. There have been many sacrifices I’ve made over the years in this sport as an athlete and now as a coach. There have also been many times when I wanted to quit or even questioned if all the time put in was worth it. My mentor, friend and college head wrestling coach, Sam Schmitz, once wrote a Bible verse in a card after a tough loss I took in the national finals that said: ‘Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.’ The proper time has finally come, and I finally get a taste of the success I have been working so hard for.”

Weyhrich, a product of Fremont, Nebraska, spent four seasons as an assistant at her alma mater, McKendree University (Illinois), before arriving in Ashland.

She is now among three head coaches currently on staff at SOU who have earned NAIA Coach of the Year honors. The others are Grier Gatlin (cross country/track and field) and Jessica Pistole (softball).

This article first appeared on the SOU Sports Information website: souraiders.com.

SOU national champion wrestler, sophomore Carolina Moreno addresses the gathering with President Rick Bailey and coach Gabrielle Weyhrich looking on. Bob Palermini photo/palermini.com
SOU national champion wrestler, senior Emily Se addresses the gathering with President Rick Bailey and coach Gabrielle Weyhrich looking on. Bob Palermini photo/palermini.com
SOU national champion wrestler, senior Grace Kristoff addresses the gathering as SOU president Rick Bailey (left) and coach head Gabrielle Weyhrich (right) look on. Bob Palermini photo/palermini.com
A small crowd of Raider fans were on hand to celebrate the team’s national championship. Bob Palermini photo/palermini.com
Picture of Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.

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