Bruce Burnett wrapped up his 13th season as the head coach of the Navy wrestling program with the goal of adding to the storied tradition, while helping mentor what will be our nation's leaders.
During his tenure, he has led the Midshipmen to a 113-57 record (.665) that featured six-straight seasons of 10 or more wins from 2002-07. Along the way, he has helped produce 10 EIWA Champions, while 10 wrestlers have garnered All-America recognition under his tutelage including two-time All-American and Navy's all-time winningest wrestler Bryce Saddoris (`11).
In recent years, the Midshipmen have flourished, finishing among the top five at the EIWA Championship in seven of the last nine years and placing among the top 25 at the NCAA Championship in three of the last seven seasons. Over the last seven seasons, Navy has won eight EIWA individual crowns, while garnering All-America honors seven times.
It's no surprise that Burnett has been able to uphold the tradition that John Schultz began in 1909 and has been carried through by the likes of the legendary Ray Swartz, Ed Peery and Reg Wicks. Simply put, Bruce Burnett is a winner. At every level of the sport, Burnett has seen success and it is without a doubt that he will continue the winning tradition that has made Navy a household name in the sport of wrestling.
Last winter, six of Navy's 10 wrestlers garnered top-five finishes to guide the Mids to a second-place finish at the EIWA Championship. It was the program's strongest finish since 2007 and Burnett was rewarded by being named the EIWA Coach of the Year. All six of those wrestlers earned automic bids to the NCAA Championship, including 2013 graduate Dan Miller who was crowned the EIWA Champion at 285 pounds. Miller is Navy's first EIWA individual champion since 2009 (Joe Baker, Bryce Saddoris) and the first Navy heavy weight to win a title since Ed Prendergast won back-to-back crowns in 2007 and `08.
The Mids produced a 6-1 dual meet record that featured a win over nationally-ranked Maryland (22-18) and Rutgers (19-15), along with its 13th straight win over rival Army (22-10).
In 2011-12, Burnett saw four of his wrestlers advance to the NCAA Championship, including seniors Luke Rebertus and Aaron Kalil, who both claimed their 100th-career victory at the national tournament. Additionally, they finished their careers ranked 11th and 12th on the Mids' all-time wins list and the pair became the first Navy tandem to reach 100 wins in the same season. Navy placed fifth at the EIWA Championship with six wrestlers amont the placewinners. Along the way, Navy also pushed its winning streak to 12 in a row over arch rival Army, posting a 27-9 victory over the Black Knights in Annapolis. Burnett also helped develop Dan Miller into one of the premier heavyweights in the country. Miller not only qualified to represent the United States at the FILA Junior World Championship, he placed seventh at the event held in Bucharest, Romania.
The 2010-11 campaign marked a handful of memorable achievements, including seeing Burnett reach his 100th-collegiate victory. On the evening of Jan. 28, 2011, the Mids overcame a 10-point deficit with three matches to go to score a 21-19 victory over North Carolina as Burnett earned his landmark victory. Upsets by Mason Bailey and Matt DeMichiel and 165 and 174 pounds, respectively, helped the Midshipmen record a 19-15 victory over 12th-ranked Lehigh in Annapolis. Meanwhile Saddoris recorded a pair of major accomplishments during the 2010-11 season. He first became the program's all-time winningest wrestler by virtue of his major decision over Bucknell's Brantley Hooks in the opening round of the EIWA Championship. By season's end, he became a two-time All-American thanks to a seventh-place finish at the NCAA Championship.
The 2009-10 campaign had the makings of what could have been a splendid marriage of youth and veteran leadership. However, for the second-straight year, Navy was met with injuries suffered by several starters and left Burnett to work his magic. Navy, indeed, weathered the storm and managed a 6-2 dual record, taking huge wins over No. 7 Maryland (19-14), American (18-17) and its arch rival Army (26-6), while also winning the All-Academy Championship in Annapolis. The Mids placed seventh at the EIWA Championship and five wrestlers went on to represent Navy at the 2010 NCAA Championship in Omaha, Neb.
In 2008-09, Burnett's Midshipmen had their share of ups and downs. While Navy battled injuries, including key setbacks to All-American Joe Baker and 2008 Olympic alternate Scott Steele, Burnett's goal year after year is to build up to the conference championship and put his wrestlers atop the All-America stand at the National Championship. Navy felt its fair share of some stormy matches, but enjoyed a solid month of February leading into the two most important weeks of the year. Navy opened the month by winning the All-Academy Championship, where nine wrestling placed including Joe Baker (133) as he became only the fifth Navy wrestler to win three or more individual titles at the All-Academy Championship. Two weeks later, the Mids claimed wins in seven of their first eight bouts in pushing their winning streak to nine in a row against arch rival Army in the annual star Match.
Navy went on to finish fifth at the EIWA Championship, as six wrestlers placed and a pair won individual titles. Sophomore Bryce Saddoris not only took the individual title at 149 pounds, he was also the recipient of the 2009 Fletcher Awarded, given to the most valuable wrestler at the EIWA Tournament. He was joined atop the podium by Joe Baker (133), who became the 31st different Navy wrestler to win two or more EIWA titles. Both Saddoris and Baker went on to earn All-America recognition, while senior Casey Caldwell (184) and rookies Luke Rebertus (174) and Prescott Garner (125) punched their tickets to the NCAA Tournament where the Mids would finish tied for 25th with Michigan.
In 2007-08, the Mids finished second at the All-Academy Championship where eight wrestlers placed including All-American Matt Stolpinski (174), who became the first Navy wrestler to capture an individual title all four years. After a two-week layoff, the Mids turned in a pair of dual wins, including pushing their winning streak to eight in a row against arch rival Army in the annual Star Match. The Mids, once again had the odds stacked against them as two wrestlers failed to make weight. As usual, though, Burnett had Navy well prepared as it was able to contain the Black Knights and captured a 22-12 win.
Burnett guided Navy to a fourth-place finish at the EIWA Championship, as seven wrestlers placed and three claimed individual titles. Junior Joe Baker became a first-time winner at 133 pounds, while seniors Matt Stolpinski and Ed Prendergast were able to win back-to-back titles at 174 pounds and heavyweight, respectively. Rookie Bryce Saddoris (149) and senior Spencer Manley (157) both placed third in their respective weight classes to earn a berth into the NCAA Championship, along with Baker, Stolpinski and Prendergast. For the first time since 1967, Navy produced three All-Americans with Prendergast placing third, Stolpinski seventh and Baker eighth. Prendergast's third-place finish is the highest by a Navy wrestler since 1990 when Scott Schleicher placed second at 158 pounds. Meanwhile, Stolpinski grabbed his second All-America title to become the second wrestler under Burnett's watch to earn All-America recognition twice.
Navy turned in an 11-4 record in 2006-07, including a flawless 7-0 mark in EIWA competition. Along the way, the Mids captured wins over EIWA foes Lehigh, American and Bucknell, while also tournament titles at the All-Academy Championship and the Navy Classic. Additionally, Navy won eight of the 10 matches against Army to push the Mids' winning streak to seven in a row against the Black Knights. The Army win helped propel Navy into the EIWA Championship where the Mids finished second. It was the highest Navy had finished at the conference tournament since placing second in 1993-94. Meanwhile, juniors Matt Stolpinski (174) and Ed Prendergast (HWT) also stood atop the podium as the champion in their respective weight classes.
The year was capped off by sending six wrestlers to the NCAA Championship where Stolpinski became Navy's first All-American since Frank Edwards in 2002-03 with his fourth-place finish. Navy's 18th-place finish at the national tournament was its highest since Reg Wicks led the Mids to a 13th-place finish in 1989-90.
In 2005-06, Navy won 13 of its 15 duals, the most wins by a Navy team during his tenure. Five Midshipmen qualified for the NCAA Championship, where Navy placed 34th.
The 2004-05 edition of the Navy wrestling team was among the best in school history. Navy posted a 12-3 record, suffering its three losses at the hands of top 10-ranked foes Oklahoma, Nebraska and Lehigh. Navy finished third at the EIWA Championship and sent six wrestlers to the NCAA Tournament, the most since 1991. Navy also claimed the top spot in the Navy Classic (first time since 1997) and placed third at the highly-competitive Southern Scuffle.
In 2003-04, Burnett led the Mids to a 12-4 overall mark. Navy placed sixth in the EIWA Tournament, its third top-six finish in four years under Burnett.
Frank Edwards placed seventh at the 2003 NCAA Championship to garner All-America recognition as a junior. Edwards, who was Navy's lone qualifier that season, captured three of his five-NCAA victories by three points or less. Meanwhile, the Midshipmen turned in an 11-6 dual mark for the second straight season.
In Burnett's first season at the Academy, he helped guide Mark Conley to a fifth-place finish in the 141-pound weight class at the 2001 NCAA Championship and garner All-America honors. Conley, who won the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) Championship at 141 pounds two-straight seasons, battled to a sixth-place finish at the NCAA Championship in 2002. He was ranked No. 1 in the country for most of the season and was the first Navy wrestler to achieve All-America status since Greg Gingeleskie placed seventh at the 1998 NCAA Championship. Conley's fifth-place finish at the 2001 NCAA Championship was the highest for a Navy wrestler since 1994 when Dan Hicks placed fifth in the heavyweight division.
Burnett came to Annapolis fresh off a coaching stint in Sydney, Australia, where he served as the United States Olympic Freestyle Coach at the 2000 Olympic Games. His athletes captured one gold, two silver and two bronze medals.
Burnett has helped prepare the United States' elite athletes for world and Olympic competition as the national freestyle coach since 1992. His resume is nothing short of impressive. His teams won five medals at the 1996 Olympic Games (three gold, one silver and one bronze) and eight medals at the 1999 Pan American Games (six gold, one silver and one bronze). Additionally, his teams captured World Team Titles in 1993 and 1995, the World Cup of Wrestling in 1993, `94, `95, `97, `98, `99 and `00 and the Pan American Championship in 1993, `94, `95 and `96.
During that time, Burnett coached Kurt Angle, Tom Brands, Kendal Cross, Kevin Jackson, Brandon Slay and John Smith to Olympic gold medals, while cornering Terry Brands, Tom Brands, Angle, Jackson and Smith to World Championships.
He was named the Freestyle Wrestling Coach of the Year in 1995 and 1996 and was named the United States Olympic Committee Elite Coach of the Year in 1996. He was also named a finalist for the 2004 Olympic Freestyle Staff.
At the conclusion of Navy's 2001-02 season, Burnett served as the head coach of the United States World Cup Team at the 2002 Freestyle World Cup of Wrestling Championship in Spokane, Wash.
Before taking over as head coach of the freestyle team, Burnett was the Associate Director of Programs and National Development Coach for USA Wrestling for three years. He developed a national technique and training syllabus and was responsible for the United States age group world teams. During his time as the developmental coach, the age group teams won a total of 42 medals, an increase of 82 percent over the previous four years. Burnett also served on the 1992 Olympic Freestyle and Greco-Roman coaching staffs.
Burnett was an assistant coach at Oklahoma State from 1987-90 and in his four years with the Cowboys, OSU won two NCAA team titles, three Big Eight Conference titles and two National Dual Meet team titles.
Burnett got his coaching career started at Meridian High School in Meridian, Idaho, where he was the head coach from 1974-87. In his 14 years, Burnett had a stout record of 154-13-2 (.917). His teams won nine conference, six district and four state championships. Burnett built such a solid program at Meridian that his program grew from 23 wrestlers his first year to 119 his last season. He was named Idaho Coach of the Year six times.
Burnett is a 1973 graduate of Idaho State, where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in secondary education.
Burnett and his wife, Karen, live in Annapolis, Md.