MITCHELL, S.D. – When Dakota Wesleyan University wrestling coach Matt Sedivy announced earlier this season that he would be stepping down as head coach at the end of the year, athletic director Curt Hart knew he wanted to hire a coach that had knowledge of the program to provide a seamless transition for the wrestlers.
Hart found someone not only with knowledge of the program, but also with a recent history with the Tiger wrestling team. Monday afternoon, he announced that Craig "Boomer" Fechko will take over as the 11th head coach in program history starting in March.
"Boomer is very knowledgeable about not only the sport of wrestling, but also Dakota Wesleyan wrestling," Hart said. "Working here for two years as a graduate assistant has given him an intimate knowledge of the program and our athletes, and that will be greatly beneficial to him as he starts the recruiting process and working with the student-athletes.
"We are excited to have Boomer on staff and to have him continue to grow the Tiger wrestling program and push it in the right direction."
Fechko comes to Dakota Wesleyan with coaching experience at several levels of collegiate wrestling, but most importantly he comes in with previous experience with the Tigers. The Broadview Heights, Ohio, native served as a graduate assistant wrestling coach at DWU from 2010-2012 under Sedivy and played a key role in both recruiting and day-to-day operations with the program.
While at Dakota Wesleyan, Fechko helped coach 15 wrestlers who qualified for the NAIA National Championships, including one NAIA All-American. In 2010-11, Fechko helped lead a squad that took fourth in the Great Plains Athletic Conference and finished 18th at the national championships – the team's best finish since 2003-04. In 2011-12, the Tigers went 7-10 – the most wins since the 1968-69 season – and finished tied for third in the conference.
In Fechko's second year at DWU, five Tigers landed All-GPAC honors, including freshman Trever DeVestern on the All-GPAC First Team. He was the first freshman in DWU history to be named to the first team, and the first first-team performer since 2007. The five all-conference athletes were also the most in program history.
After graduating from Dakota Wesleyan in 2012 with a master's degree in educational policy and administration, Fechko served as a volunteer assistant coach at NCAA Division I Bloomsburg University in Bloomsburg, Penn., for the 2012-13 season. In the 2013-14 season, he served as an assistant wrestling coach for the Brunswick High School wrestling team and worked as a corrective learning center monitor at Willetts Middle School.
Fechko graduated in 2009 with a degree in business administration from Heidelberg University, an NCAA Division III school in Tiffin, Ohio. He wrestled at Heidelberg, but earned NCAA Division II All-American honors at the University of Findlay in Findlay, Ohio, prior to transferring to Heidelberg. While at Heidelberg he qualified for the NCAA Division III national tournament. After graduating, he was the head wrestling coach at Quincy High School in Quincy, Calif., and the assistant coach for the Legends of Gold club team in Quincy.
"I want to thank Dakota Wesleyan for providing me with this tremendous opportunity to keep the wrestling program moving forward," Fechko said. "I am extremely excited to work with the student-athletes, the athletic department and the university as a whole to overcome the challenges that lie ahead. I plan to do everything necessary to keep the program performing at a high level."
The Tigers are currently 9-7 overall and 4-2 and tied for second in the GPAC. The nine wins are the most in a season since 1968-69. Dakota Wesleyan hosts the North Qualifying Tournament Feb. 22 at the Wellness Center on the DWU campus.