A coach with more than a decade of Division I experience will lead the revived wrestling program at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, when competition resumes this fall.
Robert Patnesky will coach the squad, which returns to Penn State Behrend after a 38-year absence. For the last 12 seasons, he was the head coach at Davidson College in Mooresville, N.C. He leaves that program ranked second in career victories, having mentored five national championship qualifiers and four Southern Conference Champions.
Prior to joining Davidson, Patnesky served as an assistant coach at Ohio University, where he earned a master’s degree in recreation and sports sciences.
Patnesky was a three-year starter at West Virginia University, where he won more than 100 matches. He was the 2000 Eastern Wrestling League champion, leading his team to the EWL crown and a sixth-place finish in the national rankings.
He was ranked three times among the top 12 wrestlers in the country. He represented the United States during a wrestling tour of France and Poland in 1999.
“He is a proven coach who understands the academic standards to which we recruit,” Senior Director of Athletics Brian Streeter said. “His experience will benefit the department and our student-athletes as we begin to grow a wrestling program once again.”
Penn State Behrend offered NCAA wrestling from 1967 until 1978, using Erie Hall for practices and home matches. Wrestlers will again use that space this fall.
Pennsylvania has long been a dominant force in the sport: No other state has had more NCAA programs or produced more All-Americans in the last 50 years. Two wrestlers have been inducted into Penn State Behrend’s Athletics Hall of Fame.
The college’s student-athletes compete at the NCAA’s Division III level. Penn State Behrend fields 24 teams and has for the past 12 years won the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference President’s Cup, which honors the top overall athletics program in the conference.
Those student-athletes also excel in the classroom: Sixty-three percent of the college’s student-athletes maintain a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 or higher.