Joel Gibson, a former Raider All-American and longtime assistant coach for Southern Oregon University men’s wrestling, has been chosen to lead the SOU women’s wrestling program.
Gibson will become the first full-time head coach for the team, which completed its fourth season in 2018-19.
He has spent a total of eight seasons on Mike Ritchey‘s men’s wrestling staff, including the last two as the head assistant, since finishing his collegiate career with the Raiders in 2007. He was Phoenix High School’s head wrestling coach from 2014-17.
“I’m extremely excited about the opportunity,” Gibson said. “The program is still in its infancy stages and we’ve experienced some success, but I have very high expectations about where we can go from here both athletically and academically. I feel our team has a lot of potential and can’t wait to see what this next year brings.”
Gibson is a product of North Medford High and was initially a wrestling letter-winner at Oregon State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies with an emphasis in history. He then competed for SOU during the 2006-07 season, serving as a team captain and receiving SOU’s Dan Speasl Most Inspirational Award after a seventh-place finish at the NAIA Championships.
Gibson graduated magna cum laude from SOU with a master’s degree in health and physical education in 2011.
He began his coaching career under Ritchey in 2007 while continuing his schooling. He’s contributed to 10 individual NAIA national championships and 31 total All-American performances. While at Phoenix, he produced two girls’ state champions, eight boys’ state placers, and six freestyle and Greco-Roman state placers.
Gibson was freestyle coach for the 2019 Oregon Women’s Cadet and Junior National Team, and has earned Copper and Bronze coaching certifications from USA Wrestling. He married SOU alumna Ricci (Coultas) Gibson, a former Raider softball player, in 2013. The couple live in Medford with their daughter, Henley, and son, Everett.
“We’re confident Joel will bring structure and high standards to the program, both on the mat and in the classroom,” SOU Director of Athletics Matt Sayre said in announcing Gibson’s hiring. “He presented a coherent plan for developing the whole student-athlete, from recruitment to graduation.
“He will also develop the SOU women’s wrestling team’s potential to compete for Cascade Conference and NAIA championships.”
In four trips to the Women’s College Wrestling Association Championships, the Raiders have placed 10th, 11th twice and 12th in the team point standings. They took eighth at the inaugural NAIA Invitational in March, with one All-American, after going 9-8 in dual matches.
The Cascade Conference announced last month that it will make wrestling its eighth official women’s sport beginning with the 2019-20 season. The circuit will initially include SOU, Eastern Oregon, Life Pacific (California), Menlo (California), Providence (Montana), Simpson (California) and Warner Pacific, with Corban set to launch its program in 2020-21.
This story is based on an earlier version at souraiders.com