Mark Ellis and Brian Stith, two NCAA Division I finalists with collegiate coaching experience, have joined the coaching staff at Grand Canyon University, the Phoenix-based school announced Tuesday.
Ellis, named head assistant coach, and assistant coach Stith round out the new-look GCU mat coaching staff headed up by Jon Sioredas, who took the reins of the Antelopes mat program in August, replacing founding head wrestling coach R.C. LaHaye and assistant Larry Wilbanks who were dismissed by the school in mid-July for “for violation of institutional policy” according to a brief statement issued by the school.
“I am excited to announce the hiring of two superstar coaches. Both coach Ellis and coach Stith have not only competed on the big stage, but have also coached Top 10 programs,” said Sioredas.
“The experience these two bring to Grand Canyon University is immeasurable. Both wrestled on ESPN Prime Time Saturday night in front of millions of people,” continued the GCU head coach, referring to Ellis and Stith both having wrestled in the NCAA finals on live TV. “Having been there at the highest collegiate level is huge in getting our guys to buy into what is needed to be done,” added the head coach.
“These guys understand the process of becoming great, both on the mat and in the classroom. More importantly, they understand the third dimension of coaching, which is coaching character,” Sioredas said.
A former University of Missouri wrestler, Ellis was crowned heavyweight champ at the 2009 NCAAs, becoming only the second national collegiate champ in Mizzou Tiger history. (The first was Ben Askren, two-time NCAA champ who is now a mixed martial arts welterweight champ for the ONE FC organization, who was Ellis’ roommate in college.) Ellis was a two-time NCAA All-American, placing sixth at the 2010 NCAAs. Ellis also competed for a time in MMA.
Ellis launched his coaching career at Missouri, where he served as a volunteer assistant after graduating in 2010 until 2013, when he joined the coaching staff as an assistant at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He helped contribute to the success of both programs. In 2012-13, Ellis helped lead Missouri to a seventh place team finish with five All-Americans at the NCAA Division I National Tournament. In 2013-14, Ellis was instrumental in the success at Chattanooga, helping guide the Mocs to a Top 20 dual meet ranking.
Stith, a two-time NCAA All-American at Arizona State, made it to the 157-pound finals at the 2006 NCAAs. The Sun Devil stayed at his college alma mater to serve as an assistant coach for the past seven seasons. While coaching at ASU, Stith helped develop four NCAA All-Americans and two NCAA National Champions. In 2011, he helped guide the team to a sixth place finish at the NCAA tournament.
Located in Phoenix, Grand Canyon University was founded in 1949. It is a four-year, private Christian university with an on-campus enrollment of approximately 8,500 students.