CHAMPAIGN, Ailing. – Jim Heffernan, who helped lead the College of Illinois wrestling program to 13 Prime-10 finishes on the NCAA Championships, introduced his retirement in the present day after 12 years as head coach and 29 years total with the Illini wrestling program.
Thought-about some of the outstanding collegiate wrestling coaches within the nation, Heffernan coached 73 All-Individuals, 215 NCAA qualifiers, 11 particular person NCAA champions and 20 Large Ten Convention champions throughout his time at Illinois. He helped lead the Illini to Prime-10 finishes on the NCAA Championships 13 instances, and through his teaching profession in Champaign, the Illini have had not less than one All-American on the roster in 28-consecutive seasons.
“For almost three a long time, Jim Heffernan has devoted his life to Illinois Wrestling,” mentioned Director of Athletics Josh Whitman. “He represents our athletic program’s most carefully held values: he cares deeply about his student-athletes and his colleagues, and he embodies toughness, competitiveness, and arduous work. By way of his actions and his phrases, he has been a pacesetter, mentor, and good friend to many. Our program will miss him. On behalf of Combating Illini Athletics and the College of Illinois, I need to thank Jim and Rebecca for his or her lengthy service to our college, and I want them a lot happiness in retirement.”
Heffernan guided the Orange and Blue to quite a few record-setting performances. In 2015, Heffernan coached Isaiah Martinez to the primary undefeated season (35-0) by a freshman since Cael Sanderson did so in 1999 at Iowa State, and to a second NCAA title in 2016. Martinez was a four-time Large Ten champion. In 2014, Tony Dallago turned the Illinois’ all-time chief in profession pins (40), whereas Alex Tirapelle set the varsity report for profession wins (128). He helped Jesse Delgado to consecutive NCAA titles in 2013 and 2014. As a crew, the Illini set the varsity report for twin victories in a season with 16 in 2011.
“I’m grateful to the College of Illinois, Josh Whitman and the whole Division of Intercollegiate Athletics for the chance to be part of the Illini neighborhood for greater than half my life,” Heffernan mentioned. “For the previous 29 years, Rebecca and I’ve lived, labored, and raised our youngsters right here, and it has actually develop into dwelling. I’m most appreciative of our present and former student-athletes who’ve been loyal, dedicated and devoted to the Illinois program whereas giving us 4 or 5 years of their lives. The Illinois program has afforded me life altering reminiscences, experiences and relationships. The choice to retire has been difficult to say the least, however I really feel nice concerning the present group and the way forward for this system. Perpetually grateful, appreciative and proud to have been part of Illini Athletics. I-L-L!”
Heffernan started his teaching profession as a graduate assistant on the College of Iowa earlier than changing into an assistant coach at Lehigh College in 1988. He remained at Lehigh till shifting to Oregon State in 1990, and he adopted former Illini head coach Mark Johnson to Champaign-Urbana in 1992. As an assistant coach with the Illini, Heffernan earned NWCA Assistant Coach of the Yr honors in 1995, 2001, and 2003, earlier than taking up as head coach in 2009.
In 2005, Heffernan helped lead Illinois to its first Large Ten Championship since 1952, as Alex Tirapelle (157-pounds) and Pete Friedl (174) took dwelling particular person Large Ten titles out of 5 whole finalists for the Illini. The crew completed sixth on the NCAA championships in 2005 after qualifying 9 wrestlers, whereas 125-pounder Kyle Ott made a repeat look within the finals. The crew had 5 grapplers earn All-America honors for the second consecutive season.
Heffernan additionally has a global teaching background, as he led the Cadet Wrestling Staff on the world championships in Istanbul, Turkey, in 1992, and the USA World Espoir Staff in 1989.
Previous to getting into the collegiate teaching ranks, Heffernan was an distinctive athlete and competitor on the mat. A 1987 graduate of the College of Iowa, Heffernan was a four-time All-American, compiling a profession report of 131-18-2. As a member of the Iowa wrestling program from 1983-1987, Heffernan helped lead the Hawkeyes to 3 NCAA and 4 Large Ten championship titles. He was additionally a four-time Large Ten Convention particular person champion whereas profitable an NCAA title at 150-pounds in 1986. Heffernan was captain of the Hawkeyes as a senior, and earned Iowa’s Male Athlete-of-the-Yr honor in 1987. He was inducted into the Nationwide Wrestling Corridor of Fame in 2006 and the Nationwide Iowa Varsity Membership Athletics Corridor of Fame in 2015.
The Heffernan File
College of Illinois, head coach (2010-2021)
College of Illinois, assistant coach (1993-2009)
Oregon State College, assistant coach (1991-1992)
Lehigh College, assistant coach (1989-1990)
College of Iowa, graduate assistant (1988)
NWCA Assistant Coach of the Yr (1995, 2001, 2003)
AFLAC Assistant Coach of the Yr (2003)
4-time All-American, College of Iowa (1984-1987)
4-time Large Ten Champion at 150-pounds (1984-87)
Iowa’s Male Athlete of the Yr (1987)
NCAA Champion at 150-pounds (1986)
Nationwide Wrestling Corridor of Fame (2006)
Worldwide Teaching Expertise
Cadet Wrestling Staff, Istanbul, Turkey (1992)
USA World Espoir Staff (1989)
Illinois By the Numbers Throughout Heffernan Period
-13 Prime-10 finishes at NCAA Championships
-11 particular person NCAA titles and 12 NCAA second-place finishers
-20 particular person Large Ten titles
-28 straight seasons with not less than one All-American
-215 NCAA qualifiers
-138 Tutorial All-Large Ten
-2005 Large Ten Championship, program’s first since 1952
-10 NCAA Championship qualifiers in a single season (1995, 2000, 2006)
-5 All-Individuals in a single season (2004, 2005)
-4 Midlands crew titles