Welcome to Interview #50.
I am pleased to share with you the wisdom of NCAA Division 1 Wrestling Coach of Wyoming University, Mark Branch.
With a 91-percent win rate within the conference, Coach Branch has established the Cowboys as the team to beat year in and year out.
Of Coach Branch, Wyoming Athletic Director Tom Burman says. “Mark has done a phenomenal job since 2008 in terms of developing a nationally competitive program and helping our student-athletes achieve their goals.”
Coach Branch’s full bio is at the end of the interview.
Read on. This interview is full of priceless information!
Should a wrestler personally contact you by phone, text or email? What will you do next if you are contacted by a high school athlete?
Email and text are best at first. I would advise them to go onto our website and fill out a questionnaire.
What are some of the things that would keep you from recruiting a wrestler?
Poor social behavior, poor grades, sub-par performance.
Could you share, in whatever detail you are comfortable, what the athletic scholarship break down looks like on your roster?
We have 9.9 scholarships and a roster of 32. 26 of them are on a portion of athletic aid.
What are a few of the most common mistakes that prospective-student athletes make in the college recruiting process?
Making it about money only. Not making their decision based on coaching, training partners, education, support services. Tells me they have wrong priorities.
There are so many positives about Title IX for women, but there have been unintended consequences on men’s sports, especially wrestling. Can you talk about the state of collegiate wrestling, how it has been impacted over the past few decades and what the future of collegiate wrestling looks like?
Title IX has hurt wrestling but it has also been an excuse for athletic departments to drop men’s programs. I think college wrestling is stable but we need to look at making it thrive.
How do you use social media when recruiting? What is your advice to recruits about their use of social media?
Social media may be the most powerful influence in getting a S/A to look at your program. I look at recruit’s social media and it usually tells you about the character of the individual.
What are the differences between competing on the mat at the high school or club level and the college level? What do incoming freshmen need to be prepared for?
A different level of commitment and competitiveness. It’s year round training. There are typically more poor influences to pull you away from priorities and successful habits so you have to be more disciplined.
What is the role of the parent in the recruiting process?
It varies but I believe the parent can often see what’s most important in the process so we encourage parents to be involved and come on official visits. Some parents stay completely out of it.
How did wrestling collegiately yourself at Oklahoma State affect your life aside from ending up as a college coach yourself?
I learned physical toughness and increased my pain tolerance. I learned discipline, time management, and how to work hard to earn something. I learned how to deal with adversity. I learned that the only thing fair in life is the amount of hours in a day.
Can you share a creed, quote or philosophy you try to instill into your athletes?
Adversity causes some men to break, and caused others to break records.
Bonus Question: Is there anything important that you would like to share directly with high school athletes or wrestlers in particular as they navigate the recruiting process?
Be patient and don’t let yourself get pressured into doing something you’re not comfortable with. This decision will be one of the most important decisions you will make in life so make sure in your brain and in your heart, it is what you want.
Wyoming Team Room
For a behind the scenes look at the improvements Wyoming Wrestling is making to their team room and get a feel for the facilities Division 1 athletes have access to, watch this short video by one of Wyoming’s own.
Next, take a look What is NCAA Division 1?
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In his seven seasons, UW head man Mark Branch has raised the expectations of Cowboy Wrestling to new heights. He’s upped the profile of Wyoming Wrestling and brought the program notoriety and name recognition with levels of success rarely seen in the program’s history. With 74 dual wins and a 91-percent win rate within the conference ranks, Branch has established the Cowboys as the team to beat year in and year out. Branch has compiled a 34-4 mark against conference record foes with four regular-season dual titles.
In 2014-15, he led the Pokes to a 11-4 overall dual record including a seven-dual winning streak. He led six Cowboys to the NCAA tournament and ad nine wrestlers earn All-WWC honors. Branch is currently fourth all-time in dual wins at Wyoming.
“Mark has done a phenomenal job since 2008 in terms of developing a nationally competitive program and helping our student-athletes achieve their goals,” Wyoming Athletic Director Tom Burman said. “He and his family have proven to be a great fit for Wyoming and he understands the state and the values of its residents. The Cowboys have reached unprecedented heights on the mat and in the classroom and I expect that to continue into the foreseeable future.”
Branch has been named Western Wrestling Conference Coach of the Year twice.
Branch came to Wyoming from Oklahoma State University where he was the associate head wrestling coach for six years, as well as a four-time NCAA finalist as a student-athlete. He was a part of five NCAA team championships as a coach and student-athlete at OSU. As a college wrestler, Branch was a member of OSU’s 1994 NCAA Championship team, and served on the coaching staff for OSU’s 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005 NCAA titles.
He has coached at the U.S. Nationals and World/Olympic Team Trials. Branch earned his bachelor of science degree in secondary education from Oklahoma State in 1997 and earned his master of science degree in athletic administration from OSU in 2000.
A native of Newkirk, Okla., he and his wife Susan have a daughter, Maggie Belle, and a son, Mason Layne.