Former Kutztown assistant Kriss Bellanca is taking over at Alvernia as the Golden Wolves embark on their first season. He replaces Seth Ecker who had been the head coach during this past year of program building. Absent an announcement from the school, it is unclear when Ecker’s tenure ended, but Bellanca is set to start immediately.
Alvernia announced the creation of a men’s wrestling program in April of 2018 and subsequently announced Ecker as the first head coach in July of 2018. Now, in July 2019, a new coach will take the reins. Bellanca spent 12 seasons with his alma mater of Kutztown and has been an elementary school teacher in the Muhlenberg school district in the Reading area since 2001.
Reading, Pa. (July 19, 2019) – Alvernia University Director of Athletics Bill Stiles announced on Friday the hiring of Kriss Bellanca as the Head Wrestling Coach of the Golden Wolves.
Bellanca joins the Alvernia staff following 12 seasons with Division II Kutztown University.
“Coach Bellanca is a lifelong educator, and shared our vision of what a successful Division III wrestling program looks like,” said Stiles. “He is committed to the development of the whole-student athlete – academically, athletically, spiritually, and socially. His familiarity with our primary recruiting markets and his extensive network of wrestling contacts in those areas will serve Alvernia.”
At Kutztown, Bellanca was the primary recruiter and was responsible for bringing in five NCAA Division II National Champions, 19 NCAA Division II All-Americans, and 40 NCAA Qualifiers. He also coached 56 wrestlers to podium finishes in the PSAC, and 62 NCAA Region One place winners. Kutztown also finished in the Top 20 in the NCAA on nine occasions, and in the top five in the region on eight occasions, during Bellanca’s time with the program.
Bellanca, a Berks County native, was a PIAA place-winner at Reading High School, and was a Team PA member. Bellanca wrestled for Bucknell University, but transferred to Kutztown University when Bucknell was preparing to drop Division I wrestling. With Kutztown, Bellanca finished his career in the top-15 in all-time wins. He finished third on two occasions in NCAA Regionals, and also had a second place finish in the regional tournament.
Bellanca graduated with honors in 2001 from Kutztown University with a degree in Elementary Education. He worked in the Muhlenberg school district for 19 years as a teacher and behavior specialist. He also has seven years of experience coaching at the high school level with Wyomissing. With the Spartans, Bellanca coached nine PIAA State qualifiers and four PIAA State medalists, including a PIAA State Finalist in 2007.
Bellanca is the founder and director of the nationally-recognized Steel Mat Club, where he trained a number of Pennsylvania State Champions, All-Americans, and National Tournament qualifiers.
“I am grateful for all those who participated in the search and interview process,” said Bellanca. “I want to thank Bill Stiles and the Athletic Department for trusting me to lead the Golden Wolves Wrestling program. It was amazing to learn about Alvernia University through this process and exciting to hear of the vision, support, and resources Alvernia has in providing its student-athletes a quality and holistic education.”
“I am committed to guiding student-athletes toward becoming champions in the classroom, on the wrestling mat, as well as socially and spiritually” added Bellanca. “It will be an honor to be part of this new journey full of many ‘firsts’ for Alvernia University Wrestling.”
Bellanca begins his work with Alvernia immediately. The Golden Wolves inaugural season gets underway on Sunday, November 3rd at the Lycoming Tournament. The full 2019-20 schedule will be released later this summer.