|Title:||Lawrence E. White '64 Head Wrestling Coach|
He played an integral role in the renaissance of the Lehigh wrestling program in the late 1990s. In his first year back, he led the Mountain Hawks to a school-record 23 dual wins, a second place EIWA finish, and was named EIWA Coach of the Year. Now entering his fifth season as head coach, Bethlehem native Pat Santoro looks to return the Mountain Hawks to the top of the EIWA, while molding Lehigh into a perennial top ten team and national championship contender. Santoro was hired in April, 2008 as just the eighth head coach in program history. He holds the title as the Lawrence White Head Coach of Wrestling at Lehigh.
A two-time EIWA Coach of the Year, Santoro has mentored one NCAA Champion at Lehigh. He has led six individuals to a total of seven EIWA titles, while guiding four men to eight total All-American medals.
Under Santoro’s direction, Lehigh continued to make strides in 2011-12. The Mountain Hawks finished eighth at the NCAA Championships for the second straight year and once again had two finalists in Zack Rey and Brandon Hatchett. Lehigh crowned four All-Americans, its most since having five in 2004. At the EIWA Championships, Santoro guided the Mountain Hawks within a mere 2.5 points of the team title. Robert Hamlin won his second straight EIWA title, while Hatchett won his first. Shane Welsh was the surprise of the tournament, capturing the title at 149 from the No. 6 seed. Lehigh’s three championships were its most since 2006. For his efforts, Santoro was voted EIWA Coach of the Year for the second time.
Santoro’s third season in Bethlehem proved to be his best to date on the national level. Lehigh returned to the top ten at the NCAA Championships for the first time since 2006 with an eighth place finish. The Mountain Hawks crowned three All-Americans for the first time in five years and placed two wrestlers in the NCAA finals for the first time since 2003. Rey became Santoro’s first national champion and the 27th in Lehigh history with his triumph in Philadelphia. Lehigh enjoyed another strong dual meet season, going 15-6 and finishing eighth in the national rankings. The Mountain Hawks took second at the EIWA Championships with Hamlin winning an individual title, a precursor to his second place NCAA finish.
In 2009-10, Santoro guided the Mountain Hawks to a 16-3-1 dual record and a top-ten national dual meet ranking for most of the season. Lehigh had a record six place-winners at the Midlands Championships and reached the finals at the Virginia Duals for the second straight season. In March, Santoro guided Rey to an EIWA title and All-America honors with a third place finish at the NCAA Championships, the program’s first All-American in four years.
Santoro produced an immediate turnaround in his first season back in Bethlehem. The Mountain Hawks won their first 15 duals to start the season, including victories over the likes of Maryland, Michigan, Penn State and Lehigh’s first-ever dual win over Oklahoma State. The team’s 23-1 dual mark surpassed the school record for dual wins in a season. Santoro guided Seth Ciasulli and David Craig to individual EIWA Championships, while the Mountain Hawks finished second in the conference and qualified seven wrestlers for the NCAA Championships.
Before returning to Lehigh, Santoro spent the previous five years as the head coach at the University of Maryland where he helped resurrect the Terrapins program, which in 2008 captured its first ACC title in 35 years; a feat which earned Santoro ACC Coach of the Year honors. That year, the Terps went 16-4 and entered the national rankings for the first time since 1993, climbing as high as No. 21. Under Santoro’s guidance, Maryland crowned its first All-American since 1997 en route to a top-25 team finish at the NCAA Championships. Santoro posted a 48-41-1 record in five seasons at College Park, including an impressive 33-9 dual mark his last two seasons.
Prior to his stint at Maryland Santoro served as an assistant at Lehigh for nine years, including eight seasons as the top assistant on Greg Strobel’s staff. During his initial tenure, Santoro was part of some of the most successful teams in school history. In 2003, Santoro was named the national Assistant Coach of the Year by the National Wrestling Coaches Association, after helping guide the Brown and White to its third EIWA title in four years, and a fourth place finish at the NCAA Championships, at the time the program’s best finish in 24 years.
Before coming to Lehigh, Santoro spent the 1993-94 season as an assistant coach at Duquesne and the two seasons prior to that as a graduate assistant at Penn State.
Regarded throughout the community as one of the sport’s top teachers and recruiters, Santoro has enjoyed success at every level of wrestling, both as a coach and a competitor. After wrestling for Bethlehem Catholic High School and taking a post-graduate year at Blair Academy, Santoro wrestled collegiately at the University of Pittsburgh, where he became the Panthers’ only four-time All-America while capturing national titles in 1988 and 1989 at 142 pounds. A three-time Eastern Wrestling League Champion, he was the recipient of Pittsburgh’s Golden Panther Award in 1989, recognizing the outstanding athlete of the year.
On the international scene, Santoro enjoyed a stellar career which spanned nearly a decade. He was a four time member of the U.S. National Team between 1995 and 1999 and served as an alternate for the 1996 Olympic Team and the 1999 World Team. Santoro placed fourth at the 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials, third at the 1992 Olympic Trials and was runner-up in the 1992 U.S. Open Freestyle Championships.
Santoro earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Pittsburgh in 1992. In addition to his Bethlehem roots and previous coaching stint at Lehigh, Santoro’s father, uncle and brother all wrestled for the Brown and White.
Santoro and his wife Julie have a daughter, Leah and a son, Mack.
2012........ EIWA Coach of the Year
2011........ Coached first NCAA Champion (Zack Rey)
2009........ EIWA Coach of the Year
............... Led Lehigh to school single-season record 23 dual wins
2008........ ACC Coach of the Year
............... Guided Maryland to first ACC title in 35 years
2007........ Led Maryland to school record-tying 17 dual wins
2003........ NWCA National Assistant Coach of the Year
1995-03... Coached four EIWA Championship teams and four
............... NCAA top ten teams as Lehigh assistant coach
1993-94... Duquesne assistant coach
1991-93... Penn State assistant coach