Photo: Sam Janicki

Pritzlaff named Columbia head wrestling coach

NEW YORK -- Donny Pritzlaff, who spent the past 10 years as associate head coach at Rutgers University, has been named Columbia University's Andrew F. Barth Head Coach of Wrestling, announced today by Campbell Family Director of Athletics Peter Pilling.

"Donny's resume speaks for itself, and we could not be more excited to welcome him and his family to Columbia," Pilling said. "He has worked for some of the best programs in the country, recruited phenomenal student-athletes and seen success everywhere he's been. We feel he is the perfect fit to lead our program in this new era of Ivy League wrestling."

Pritzlaff, a two-time national champion and world medalist, brings 22 years of coaching experience at the NCAA Division I level to Morningside Heights. He was instrumental in the Scarlet Knights' rise to the top of the collegiate wrestling landscape.

"I am extremely grateful and excited for the opportunity to lead Columbia Wrestling," said Pritzlaff. "I want to thank Peter Pilling, the entire Columbia Athletic Department and the New York City Regional Training Center for their trust in me. I've spent 22 years working with exceptional student-athletes and the best coaches in the United States. I plan to build on my experiences and exhaust every resource that Columbia University offers to inspire students and develop champions."

During Pritzlaff's tenure at Rutgers, the Scarlet Knights earned a pair of individual NCAA champions, five individual Big Ten titles, 18 All-Americans, 66 NCAA qualifiers and 44 Big Ten place winners. The Scarlet Knights recorded 110 dual victories and 34 in Big Ten Conference action during his time in Piscataway.

Pritzlaff served in the corner of three NCAA Championship matches and two NCAA title wins, as Anthony Ashnault (149) and Nick Suriano (133) secured the first individual NCAA titles in program history at the 2019 NCAA Championships. Additionally, RU posted seven consecutive seasons with multiple All-Americans at NCAAs.

Rutgers set numerous milestones while Pritzlaff was on staff, closing the 2021-22 dual campaign with its most wins (16) since the 2012-13 season and its highest final ranking in the NWCA Coaches Poll (14) since 2017. The Scarlet Knights qualified seven to the 2022 NCAA Championships – the most since 2017 – and had all participants score at the national tournament.

Pritzlaff played a crucial role in the Scarlet Knights' recruiting campaign, as Rutgers secured several highly ranked incoming classes.

At Michigan, he mentored four All-Americans and worked closely with Kellen Russell, who captured his second NCAA title and fourth Big Ten title to finish a stellar collegiate career in 2012. Russell became just the 11th four-time Big Ten Champion in league history. Two Wolverine grapplers reached the national podium in 2014, as Pritzlaff and the staff helped Michigan finish 17th at the NCAAs.

Prior to arriving at Michigan, Pritzlaff served five seasons as an assistant coach at Wisconsin (2007-11), including the last two as associate head coach. He helped lead the Badgers to top-10 team finishes at the NCAA Championships in each of the last three seasons, including a fourth-place finish in 2010.

Pritzlaff was instrumental in developing the Badger middleweight wrestlers, battle-testing notable performers under his tutelage such as NCAA champion and three-time All-American Andrew Howe, NCAA finalist Craig Henning and All-Americans Tyler Turner, former Columbia head coach Zach Tanelli and Kyle Ruschell.

During his tenure, 36 Badgers qualified for the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, including 15 All-Americans, five Big Ten Champions and 19 Academic All-Big Ten members.

As Wisconsin's recruiting coordinator, Pritzlaff also oversaw and contributed to the program's future development. According to InterMat, he helped rally three top-20 recruiting classes, including the nation's No. 2 class in 2008 and the No. 4 class in 2011.

Pritzlaff previously served as an assistant coach at Hofstra University (2004-06), guiding the team to three Colonial Athletic Association titles and an 11th-place NCAA finish in 2006.

As a collegiate wrestler at Wisconsin (1998-2001), Pritzlaff compiled one of the most impressive careers in the program's history. Pritzlaff was a two-time NCAA 165-pound champion (2000, 2001) and four-time NCAA All-American, placing fifth as a sophomore at 165 pounds in 1999 and sixth as a freshman at 150 pounds in 1998.

He became the 12th NCAA champion in Badger program history with a 4-2 sudden-victory decision over Iowa State's Joe Heskett in the championship final. The following season, he again used an overtime takedown to edge Heskett, 3-1, en route to his second-straight NCAA title, becoming Wisconsin's fourth multiple champion and one of just three four-time All-Americans in program history.

A 2001 NWCA All-Star selection, Pritzlaff claimed three straight Big Ten Conference 165-pound titles (1999-2001). He posted a 135-15 career collegiate record, including a 43-1 mark as a senior, ranking fourth among Wisconsin's all-time winningest wrestlers. His .894 career-winning percentage ranks third in Badger program history. Pritzlaff was inducted into the University of Wisconsin Athletics Hall of Fame in 2010.

Pritzlaff's success continued on the international scene, as the experienced grappler completed a successful eight-year career in the 74 kg/163-pound freestyle division. He captured the bronze medal at the 2006 World Championships and earned medals at the Pan American Championships (silver, 2006), New York Athletic Club Holiday International Open (gold, 2001; silver, 2005; bronze, 2002, '03, '04), Henri Deglane Challenge (bronze, 2002), Dave Schultz Memorial International (gold, 2002, '05) and Sunkist Kids International Open (gold, 2002; silver, 2004). While in college, Pritzlaff captured the 1998 Junior World championship at 70 kg.

Pritzlaff graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 2002 with a bachelor's degree in sociology. He went on to earn a Master's Degree in Applied Psychology from Rutgers in 2022. Pritzlaff and his wife, Robin, have two daughters, Adalena and Onaliese.