Willaert moves to Augustana


Tony Willaert has been named as the new head coach at Augustana College. Willaert spent the last six seasons at St. John’s and the last three as head coach for his alma mater. Willaert takes over for Eric Juergens who resigned at the beginning of May. The Vikings return two All-Americans from last year’s team that placed 17th in the NCAA Championships.

6/22/2017 10:58:00 AM

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. – Tony Willaert, most recently the head wrestling coach at Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, has been name to succeed Eric Juergens as Augustana’s Terry & Sandy Shockley Endowed Wrestling Coach. Willaert will take over in 2017-18 as the 15th head coach in the history of the Viking program.

Augustana Director of Athletics Mike Zapolski indicated Willaert emerged from a solid field of candidates. “I am excited that Tony will be leading the Augustana wrestling program. We were fortunate to have a strong applicant pool for the position, and Tony has the vision and work ethic to continue the positive momentum established by Eric Juergens, said Zapolski. “Tony was an integral part of several solid teams at St. John’s, and has an excellent track record of identifying and developing young men who want to excel in the classroom and on the wrestling mat.”

For the last three seasons, Willaert has led the wrestling program at his alma mater—Saint John’s. He guided the Johnnies to a 6-5 dual-meet record this past season and third-place finish at the NCAA West Regional. He had four of his grapplers advance to the 2017 national meet, giving him a total of nine national qualifiers during his three seasons.

“I am honored to take over the Augustana wrestling program and look forward to picking up where Eric left off,” said Willaert. “I am anxious and excited to get started and I look forward to working with this team. This year’s team has great potential and the future is bright as well.”

Willaert’s charges also excelled in the classroom. Four of his athletes earned National Wrestling Coaches Association Scholar All-America honors this year and the Johnnies posted the fourth-best team grade point average in the nation.

Prior to being named head coach at St. John’s, Willaert was an assistant on the Johnnie staff for three years. During that time, he mentored three All-Americans and seven Scholar All-Americans and helped lead SJU to top-three regional finishes each year.

In addition to leading the Saint John’s program, Willaert has been the head coach of the Central Minnesota Wrestling Club for the last three years. He trained a pair of state high school champions as well as a half-dozen All-Americans at the Freestyle/Greco-Roman National Championships in Fargo, North Dakota. He is also active with Minnesota/USA Wrestling and the NWCA/Fellowship of Christian Athletes Leadership Academy.

A 2011 graduate of Saint John’s, where he majored in nutrition with a sports medicine minor, Willaert was a four-year letter winner. As a senior captain for the Johnnies, he was ranked as high as third in the nation at 197 pounds and qualified for the national meet, advancing to the round of 12. His performance helped SJU finish sixth in the nation.

Willaert inherits an Augustana outfit that finished 17th at the 2017 NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships. The Vikings crowned a pair of All-Americans—184-pounder Christos Giatras (Lemont HS, Lemont, Ill.) and 285-pounder Adarios Jones (Moline HS, Moline, Ill.)—both of whom are scheduled to return for Willaert’s first season in Rock Island.