Shawn Nelson, a 2019 inductee into the Jim Koch NCAA DII Wrestling Hall of Fame, is entering his 23rd season as head coach of the University of Findlay wrestling program during the 2019-20 campaign and has continued to keep the Roughnecks as one of the top small college wrestling programs in the nation.
Nelson has built his program to be known as a tournament ready team. His teams have never shied away from wrestling dual meets with nationally ranked and NCAA Division I opponents and his squads have produced a 177-205 record in duals during his tenure with the program.
With Nelson as the head coach, the Roughnecks have had eight NCAA Division II national champions and three national champs at the NAIA level. Ben Sergent (2014), Michael Lybarger (2011), Antonio Guerra (2006, 2007), Andy Uhl (2005) and Waylon Lowe (2002, 2003, 2004) all won NCAA Division II titles under Nelson’s leadership while Jimmie Sanfilippo (1999) and Quantres Bates (1998, 1999) won titles in the NAIA.
Nelson has also coached a total of 42 NCAA Division II All-Americans and has consistently had the Roughnecks ranked in the national poll. He has also seen 13 individuals earn first team all-GLIAC accolades during his time as the head coach. He has also been named the GLIAC Coach of the Year twice (2012, 2016) and was tabbed the NCAA Division II National Coach of the Year and Midwest Region Coach of the Year in 2012.
In 2006, Nelson helped bring the NCAA Division II National Championship to Findlay. The event was the first national championship ever hosted by UF.
Nelson graduated from Penn State in 1994 and is a former NCAA Division I All-American in wrestling. At Penn State, Nelson earned his degree with a Bachelor’s of Science in Administration of Justice. Among his many accomplishments on the mat, Nelson won a championship at the 1993 Michigan Open, finished second at the 1993 Midlands, and placed third at the 1990 Sunkist International Tournament. Other notable accomplishments include finishing fourth in the 126 pound weight class at the NCAA Championships and third at the annual Big Ten Meet. He also ranks among the top all-time at Penn State in career pins and is a former three-time Ohio High School champion for North Royalton High.
His coaching experience has included being a volunteer assistant at Michigan State University during the 1994-95 season, a year that saw the Spartans finish third at the NCAA Division I Nationals. Nelson also travels frequently throughout the Midwest in the off-season to speak at various wrestling camps and clinics.
Nelson resides in Pemberville with his wife Tammy, daughters MacKenna and Karissa, and his stepson, Casey.