Illinois assistant Jim Heffernan earns NWCA Award
May 25, 2001
Following a successful season that saw the Illinois wrestling team post its best finish at the NCAA Championships in 55 years, University of Illinois wrestling coach Jim Heffernan was named the National Wrestling Coaches Association's Assistant Coach of the Year. This is the second award for the Illinois coaching staff this season as head coach Mark Johnson was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year.
Heffernan was very instrumental in steering Illinois to one of the best seasons in school history with a fifth-place finish at the NCAA Championships. Illinois placed three wrestlers in the finals with Adam Tirapelle (149 pounds) and John Lockhart (Hwt.) both winning titles. The squad's dual mark of 12-2 and edged Iowa for a second-place Big Ten finish. Heffernan also received the award following the 1995 season.
Heffernan has been a member of the Fighting Illini coaching staff since Johnson's arrival in 1992. In that time the staff has put Illinois back in the national spotlight, placing in the Top-12 each of the last six seasons. The Illini have had six national champions, 10 NCAA finalists and 23 All-Americans in the last nine years.
The Cleveland, Ohio, native was a 1987 graduate of the University of Iowa where he was the 1986 NCAA 150-pound champion and a four-time Big Ten Champion. He was a member of three Hawkeye National champion and four Big Ten Championship teams.