ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- University of Michigan wrestling head coach Joe McFarland announced Monday (Oct. 8) the addition of Mark Churella Sr. to the coaching staff. Churella, a three-time NCAA champion and National Wrestling Hall of Fame member, will serve at the Wolverines' volunteer coach during the 2007-08 season.
"Everybody affiliated with Michigan wrestling is excited to have Mark back in the program," said McFarland. "I think Mark will able to help us in certain areas where we have recently been deficient. He understands the technical aspect of wrestling and the mental preparation it requires better than anyone I know. He was one of my coaches during my senior year at Michigan, so I personally know what a benefit he will be to our current guys."
It will be Churella's second stint with the Wolverine wrestling staff after previously serving three seasons as a U-M graduate assistant coach (1985-87). Churella also was head coach at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas (1979-84) before the Rebels dropped their wrestling program. While at UNLV, he inaugurated the Las Vegas Collegiate Invitational Tournament (now the Cliff Keen Invitational), which remains one of wrestling's most prestigious regular-season events.
Considered among the greatest wrestlers in Michigan program history, Churella reigns as the Wolverines' lone three-time NCAA champion, capturing the 150-pound crown in back-to-back seasons (1977, '78) before moving up two weight classes to win at 167 pounds as a senior (1979). Churella is one of five Wolverine wrestlers to earn four All-America citations and was named the most outstanding wrestler at the 1978 national tournament after boasting a technical fall and two pins, including a second-period fall over Iowa's Bruce Kinseth in the final.
A two-time Big Ten Conference champion (1977, '78), Churella was awarded the 1979 Big Ten Medal of Honor, given annually to the graduating student-athlete at each conference school who has demonstrated the highest proficiency in scholarship, athletics and service to the community.
At one time the U-M school record holder in career wins (132), career falls (41) and single-season wins (44), Churella still ranks among the Wolverines' leaders in all three categories. His career winning percentage of .910 (132-13) lists second in Michigan program history, while his streaks of five straight pins -- a feat he accomplished twice in his career -- rank fourth on U-M's list of consecutive falls.
In recognition of his competitive and coaching successes as well as his efforts in promoting wrestling on the local, state and national levels, Churella was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1999. He is also a member of the Michigan Athletics Department's Hall of Honor and is a charter member of the state of Michigan Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Originally from Farmington, Mich., Churella earned his bachelor's degree from Michigan in 1979. He is the president and CEO of FDI Group, an insurance services company based in Novi, Mich. His elder sons, Mark and Ryan, both wrestled at Michigan, while his youngest, Josh, is a current member of the Wolverine team.
Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423