Two assistant wrestling coaches took over as head coaches during the summer.
C.J. Campbell was named head men’s wrestling coach, while Matt Stevens was named head women’s coach.
Campbell and Stevens became interim head coaches in April after Archie Randall, men’s and women’s longtime coach was fired. Campbell and Athletic Director Jim Abbott were unable to comment on Randall’s leave at the time because it was a “personnel issue.” Campbell and Stevens were notified they would be head coaches without an interim basis in late May or June, Campbell said, then it became official July 1.
“It’s real exciting,” Stevens said. “It’s been really enjoyable to be named the head coach. I got a lot of good training ahead of time and I have a lot of good people around me, so it makes this job pretty easy.”
Campbell and Stevens spent two seasons as assistant coaches. Stevens focused more on the women’s team, while Campbell focused more on the men.
“I definitely have different responsibilities now,” Campbell said. “I came here under the premise that, well Coach Randall was in the twilight of his career, and I had the hopes of taking over the program when he retired. It wasn’t a huge surprise, just the timing and circumstances were the only things that caught me off guard.
“But I’m more confident in my abilities, and I have trust and respect in the team that we’re going to have a smooth transition.”
Stevens agreed he has different responsibilities now, but he said he just tries to do his job.
“I don’t want to change it up too much,” Stevens said. “But obviously there’s a little more of a leadership role in it so I just try to not take my time away from them like I used to do. I put a little more time into the administrative stuff to not take any away from my athletes.”
Freshman Wrestler Rachel Watters said Stevens is why she chose OCU.
“I absolutely love Coach Stevens,” Watters said. “He is a great technician and I love his coaching style. He’s fantastic and I will learn great things.
“Coach Campbell is not my coach anymore because he’s the men’s coach this year but last year he helped me a lot. He’s a great guy.”
Campbell said he thinks his experience as an assistant coach helps him.
“I’ve already got a good relationship with the roster we have and I was heavily involved in the recruiting this year,” Campbell said of the men’s wrestling team. “No one left after the coaching change.”
The men’s team has 11 new recruits and a roster of 28.
“We’re really excited about the season,” Campbell said.
Stevens said he also has a good team coming in.
“We had a real good recruiting class of six freshmen coming in that I look forward to really helping out the team and I really look forward to us winning a national title, the tenth one here,” Stevens said.
Sophomore Wrestler Becka Leather said Campbell and Stevens will be a good thing for the teams.
“These coaches were both assistant coaches here before so the athletes are familiar with and trust them,” Leathers said. “I’m really excited to see what will changes they will make in the coming seasons.”
OCU began its wrestling program in January 2006, hiring Randall at the end of that month.
“The program is as strong as ever,” Campbell said. “Adversity brings people together and I think this is going to be one of those situations.”
Stevens gave Abbott credit for the success of the wrestling program and the athletics department as a whole.
“Mr. Abbott does a great job and we have one of the best athletic departments in the country,” Stevens said. “We’re competitive in every sport and our athletes are always happy and taken care of. That’s the number one thing you can ask for.”
Visit MediaOCU.com for more information about the athletics department’s successes during the summer.