Veteran assistant Duane Bastress will become the next head wrestling coach at York College.
Paul Saikia, the York College assistant dean for athletics and recreation, made the coaching announcement on Thursday.
Bastress will take over the program from long-time head coach Tom Kessler at the end of the 2012-13 season.
"This has been a dream of mine to become a head coach of a top-level wrestling program and to have an opportunity to do it at my alma mater has me very excited and ready to lead this program into the next chapter," Bastress said. "Make no mistake; I am following the greatest coach ever in the history of (York) wrestling. However, I look forward to tackling that challenge and continuing the great tradition that (York) wrestling has established."
Bastress is very familiar to Spartan wrestling fans. He was a two-time NCAA Division III national champion at 184 pounds, capturing the titles in 2005 and 2006. He went 40-0 his senior year en route to his second title. For his three-year Spartan career, Bastress went 97-6 and owned an overall collegiate mark of 114-21.
Saikia believes Bastress was a natural choice to lead the York program.
"His accomplishments, dedication and work ethic are awesome examples for our student-athletes," Saikia said. "We believe his time working with Coach Kessler has prepared him for this advancement."
Kessler is also pleased to see Bastress get a chance to lead the program.
"I'm very happy and excited for Duane to get the opportunity to continue the tradition and success of the York College wrestling program, which I have no doubt he will do," Kessler said. "He has been an assistant coach for six seasons and is no doubt ready to move this program forward."
During Bastress' six years on the Spartan bench next to Kessler, York has accumulated 102-50-2 record, including a school-record 25 victories last winter. He has coached four wrestlers that have achieved six All-America finishes at the NCAA Division III Championships. He was named the 2012 National Wrestling Coaches Association Division III National Assistant Coach of the Year and will be inducted into the NWCA Division III National Hall of Fame in March at this year's national championships.
Taking over the reigns from Kessler has a special meaning for Bastress.
"Words can not describe what Coach Kessler has done for me over the years," Bastress said. "He recruited me to York and then made sure I pushed myself on and off the mat. I remember to this day him saying to my dad, 'I don't want him for just a semester, I want him to graduate from here.' That statement shows you the kind of coach and man that Coach Kessler is. He has always wanted the best for his student-athletes."
Bastress has big goals for the program.
"(I want to) lead the program to levels that it has never been," he said. "The plan is simple; out work and out hustle the competition. I plan on bringing back more top-five finishes at the NCAA championships and a national team championship to York. I also aspire to have several All-Americans both academically and on the mat."
Kessler has been York's coach since 1990. He has a career record of 322-139-3. This year's York team is 18-6 and ranked No. 15 in the nation in Division III according to the latest NCAA poll.
The Spartans conclude their regular season on Feb. 15 with a trip to Elizabethtown. York then heads to Ada, Ohio, to participate in the NCAA Regional Qualifier at Ohio Northern University on March 1 and 2.