John Hughes enters his fifth season on the Mountain Hawks’ coaching staff. A three-time All-American and former NCAA Champion at Penn State, Hughes helped guide the Mountain Hawks to 66 dual wins in four seasons in Bethlehem, plus top ten NCAA finishes in 2011 and 2012, after spending the previous five seasons at his alma mater.
Hughes works with wrestlers from almost every weight class, but the development of Lehigh’s middleweights under him was evident in the 2011-12 season. Shane Welsh won a three-man battle for the starting spot at 149 and went on to win an EIWA title as the No. 6 seed. Welsh, Brian Tanen and Brandon Hatchett all qualified for the NCAA Championships at 149, 157 and 165 respectively. Hatchett also won an EIWA title and earned his second All-American medal after reaching the NCAA finals as the No. 11 seed.
Hughes is regarded as one of the toughest wrestlers in Penn State history. He won an NCAA Championship at 142 in 1995 and added All-American honors with a seventh place finish in 1994 and a runner-up finish in 1996. Hughes ranks eighth in Nittany Lion annals with 121 career victories. In addition to his national title, Hughes was the 1995 Big Ten Champion and also won a gold medal at the 1994 Pan-Am Games and a University National Freestyle Championship.
In five seasons on the coaching staff at Penn State, Hughes made a profound and immediate impact in the training room. Working predominantly with the Nittany Lion middleweights, Hughes helped guide Bubba Jenkins and Dan Vallimont to All-American honors in 2008, while as a team, Penn State crowned four All-Americans and finished third in the team standings, the program’s best finish since 1994. Hughes also played a major role in Penn State’s recruiting efforts which have produced recruiting classes that were among the nation’s best over the last several years, and continued that tradition in each of his first four years at Lehigh as the Mountain Hawks have brought in nationally ranked recruiting classes, including one of the nation’s top three classes entering in the fall of 2012.
A native of Stillwater, Pennsylvania, Hughes won four PIAA state championships wrestling for Benton High School. He earned his bachelor’s degree in landscape contracting from Penn State in 2002. Prior to joining the Penn State coaching staff on a full time basis, Hughes served as head coach for the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club. He also enjoyed a stint as an assistant coach for the Pittsburgh Wrestling Club and worked as an environmental technician for Groundwater and Environmental Services, Inc.
Hughes and his wife Melissa have a son, Riley and a daughter, Morgan.
High School: Benton H.S.
College Career: Penn State 1992-1996
College Degree: B.S. Landscape Contracting, Penn State
Coaching Career: Asst. Pittsburgh Wrestling Club (2000-2001), Asst. Nittany Lion Wrestling Club (2001-2003), Asst. Penn State (2003-2008), Asst. Lehigh (2008-present)
Career Highlights: National champion at 142 in 1995… three-time All-American… University National Champion…Pan-Am Games gold medalist.