Newcomer Coach Weyhrich Leads Women’s Wrestling to NAIA National Championship – Exclusive Interview

The 2022-2023 Southern Oregon University Raiders women’s wrestling team celebrated their first NAIA National Championship title this year (scoring of the event can be found here.) The team was led by head coach Gabrielle Weyhrich. This was Weyhrich’s first year as head coach, and she is also the first woman to lead a college women’s wrestling team to a national tournament championship. 

“It’s mind-blowing to think how a coach comes into a program and in her first year is hosting a National Championship,” SOU president Rick Bailey said, according to KVTL. “That is not an accident, that is a commitment.”

“From Day one, they just showed me love, they became my new family and I can’t thank them enough for giving me the best experience I could have as a head coach,” Weyhrich said. “I’m the first woman and I can say I feel accomplished, and it’s a good feeling.”

Gabrielle Weyhrich spoke to The Siskiyou about how she got the team to this historic win.

“I was an assistant coach for 4 years at Mckendree University in Lebanon, Illinois. I wanted to take my time learning and growing as an assistant before jumping into a head coaching role. I worked under a great role model and mentor who led our Mckendree Women’s Wrestling Team to three National titles. He taught me everything I needed to know about being successful in this role.”

“Eventually, the head coach I worked underneath decided it was time to make a career change, which led me to having to find a new home. SOU had a job posting out for a New Head Women’s Wrestling Coach. I had never been to Oregon, or the West Coast in general. It was a scary move, but I knew SOU had a great team, with a well-built foundation. Tucker and Joel (the coaches before Weyhrich) had done a great job with the girls and were handed a program to me that was set up for success.” 

Weyhrich described wrestling as just a tool to minister to young adults. “Of course,” She says. “I love the sport, but wrestling has done way more for me than just teaching me how to win matches. It has helped me prioritize my values and morals in life.”

The things she has learned in wrestling have had a direct translation into the day-to-day.  As a coach, she values relationships, work ethic, and accountability. Those core values are what make the program thrive. 

But she couldn’t have done it alone. She said, “I have been overwhelmed by the amount of support we received from the community and the school itself. It feels good to finally be in a community that recognizes the sacrifices these girls make to be the best in their craft. Support does not happen without effort. I believe it starts from our great president Rick Bailey and our amazing athletic director
Matt Sayre and trickles down.  We are so thankful to feel like we have an army behind us as we go into every competition. So thank you!”

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