Photo: Sam Janicki

Ayres named head wrestling coach at Stanford

By Stanford Sports Information

STANFORD, Calif. -- Chris Ayres has been appointed the Matt Gentry Head Wrestling Coach, as announced today by Jaquish & Kenniger Director of Athletics
Bernard Muir.

The 32nd head coach in Stanford wrestling history, Ayres comes to The Farm after spending 17 seasons as the head coach at Princeton.

"I am excited to welcome Coach Ayres to Stanford," said Muir. "His success at Princeton speaks for itself and I believe he can take our wrestling program to new heights. We are thrilled to have him lead our student-athletes and be ingrained in the Stanford community."

A four-time Ivy League Coach of the Year, Ayres has built the Princeton program into a conference and national contender. Among the many achievements, Ayres has produced just the second individual national champion in Princeton history (it's first since 1951), the program's first and second four-time All-Americans, and its first Ivy League championship since 1986.

"The most common question I have been asked during this process is, 'Why would you leave Princeton?'", said Ayres. "My answer is simply, 'It's time.'

"After 17 years of building the Princeton program I am ready for a new challenge. My experience at Princeton has uniquely prepared me to take the Stanford wrestling team to new heights."

During Ayres' tenure, the Tigers had their first NCAA finalist since 2002, producing two in the same season in 2022. They qualified a program-record seven wrestlers to the 2017 NCAA Championships, and, in 2019, had a program-record three All-Americans. In 2023, Princeton was 13th at the NCAA Championships – the highest finish in program history and its 10th top-25 standing all-time.

Under Ayres, the Tigers won 10 EIWA individual titles, all since 2016, and placed in the top 5 at EIWAs (when competing) from 2016-22. Princeton has earned 48 bids to the NCAA Championships since 2010.

"Stanford is historically the best athletics department in the country, consistently winning the most national titles of any school in the country, and there is absolutely no reason the wrestling program can't do the same," added Ayres. "I feel blessed that Stanford has chosen me to be the next head coach of its wrestling program and I can't wait to get started on this new journey."

A former EIWA champion and two-time recipient of Lehigh's "Outstanding Athlete" honor during his undergraduate career, Ayres spent five years as an assistant for the Mountain Hawks before taking over at Princeton.

While at Lehigh, Ayres established a new school record with 120 career victories, and in 1998, he amassed the most wins in a single season for a Lehigh wrestler with 39. He won the 150-pound EIWA championship as a junior and earned All-America honors at 157 pounds as the NCAA sixth-place finisher during his senior season.

Ayres earned his undergraduate degree in marketing and his master's in elementary education at Lehigh in 2001. He and his wife, Lori, have a daughter Chloe, a member of the Princeton wrestling Class of 2025, and a son, Atticus.

Ayres' hiring is contingent on a pending background check.