Joe Heskett embarks upon his fourth season as head coach of the Army wrestling program. A four-time All-American, national champion and former U.S. World Team member, Heskett joined Army after four years as an assistant coach at The Ohio State University. This past season, Heskett guided the Black Knights to a 3-3 EIWA record, while achieving an overall mark of 7-7.
In 2011-12, Heskett led Army to 5-2 conference record, EIWA Freshman of the Year (first time in nearly 30 years) and a National Academic Award, which was awarded to Army wrestling for the first time.
This past winter, Heskett helped six Black Knights place at the EIWA Championships. Since Heskett's arrival in 2010 (Army had zero returning NCAA qualifiers in 2010) the Black Knights have sent 9 wrestlers to the NCAA tournament (2011 Army sent two athletes, 2012 Army sent three athletes and 2013 Army sent four athletes). The Black Knight currently have 3 NCAA qualifiers leading this year's squad.
Heskett, a 2001 graduate of Iowa State University, was ready for the opportunities and challenges that present themselves.
"Life will often surprise us with outstanding opportunities," said Heskett. "I am humbled and honored to be able to lead and represent the Army wrestling program. I am inspired by what West Point represents and I graciously accept the challenge to mentor and motivate the cadet-athletes, improve their technical and tactical skills on the mat and to beat Navy. I would like to thank my family, Kevin Anderson, the West Point search committee, specifically Associate Athletic Director Gene McIntyre for his time and energy, and the entire USMA athletic department."
Heskett, who won the 165-pound national championship in 2002, is the ninth head coach in program history.
"I am very excited to have one of the young talents in collegiate wrestling as our head coach," said former Athletics Director Kevin Anderson. "Joe comes highly recommended from Athletic Director of the Year Gene Smith of Ohio State, has unmatched credentials on the mat and his passion and dedication to the sport should pay immediate dividends. He has continued to advance his career and we are confident he can lead us to wins over Navy, EIWA Championships and national qualifiers."
Heskett, the eighth four-time All-American at Iowa State, graduated with a degree in Speech Communications and a career record of 143-9 and began his masters degree after graduating in December, 2001.
He was a three-time national finalist, finishing third as a freshman, followed by two overtime loses in the finals, but prevailed by earning the National Title during his senior campaign. Heskett captured three Big 12 Championships, won the prestigious Midlands event on three occasions and graduated third on Iowa State's all-time wins list.
Following his decorated collegiate career, Heskett earned a spot on the 2007 U.S. World Team after winning the U.S. Nationals and U.S. World Team Trials. Heskett is a 5 time U.S. National Team Member and he represented the United States at the `07 World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan with a fifth-place finish. He dropped a tough, three-period battle with a two-time world champion from Russia in the semifinals before wrestling back to finish fifth. He was one of five United States wrestlers to qualify at his weight for the Olympics. Earlier that summer, he won a silver medal at 163 pounds at the 2007 Pan American Games.
Less than a week after returning from the World Championships, Heskett survived a rare and often fatal unannounced heart condition. After nearly a week of testing Heskett was diagnosed with a genetic heart condition and was forced to retire from competitive wrestling. He ended his career as the number one man on the U.S. Olympic Ladder and was ranked third in the World.
During his tenure at Ohio State, Heskett helped the Buckeyes to four top-10 team finishes at the NCAA Tournament, two of which were NCAA runner up finishes, three NCAA champions and 15 All-Americans. He played a large role in securing the nation's top recruiting class in 2006 and helped sign a host of top prospects.
Heskett began his coaching career at Cal Poly University where he was the head assistant wrestling coach and also earned his master's degree with honors in Educational Leadership with an emphasis in Athletic Administration. He assisted in all facets of the program, including fundraising, and helped the Mustangs to their highest NCAA placement in nearly 20 years.
Leadership and leadership training is another passion of Heskett's. He was Iowa State's representative at the NCAA Leadership Conference, a board member of the Children's Body Image, a former member of the Major Ray Mendoza Leadership Fund and an Ambassador and Public Awareness Speaker for the Ohio State Medical Center. He is the founder and Chief Visionary Officer for h Leadership (founded in 2009), a visionary leadership company dedicated revolutionizing sport through leadership and life skill education.
A native of Akron, Ohio, Heskett and his three children, Olivia (8) and Ava (6) and Joey (3) reside at West Point.