COLLEGEVILLE, Minn.— Former Saint John’s University national-champion wrestler and head wrestling coach Brandon Novak ’01 will be among five individuals inducted into the Division III National Wrestling Coaches’ Association (NWCA) Hall of Fame prior to the Division III national championships Thursday, March 9, in La Crosse, Wis. The induction ceremony is at 6:30 p.m. at the La Crosse Center Ballroom.
Novak joins two other honorees related to SJU wrestling. His former coach, John Elton ’80, was a 2007 inductee. Former coach Terry Haws received the 2008 Lifetime Service to Wrestling Award from the Minnesota chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
A native of Becker, Minn., Novak was a four-time national qualifier, three-time All-American and a 2001 national champion for the Johnnies. As a freshman, Novak placed fifth nationally at 190 pounds. After a return trip where he did not place as a sophomore, he qualified again as a junior, taking third at 197 pounds.
His senior year (2000-01) was one of the best individual seasons in Johnnie wrestling history. He dominated his way to a 23-1 record, with his only loss coming to a non-Division III opponent. He earned the Carl Larson Trophy, as the most valuable wrestler at the MIAC Tournament, following a conference championship at 197 pounds and capped his illustrious career with a national title. His career winning percentage of .871 (101-15 record) is still the best in SJU history.
In addition to his domination on the mat, Novak was also a standout football student-athlete at SJU. He was a two-time All-American linebacker and was named the 1999 MIAC Most Valuable Player.
After graduation, he pursued a coaching career at SJU. He spent 10 seasons as SJU’s head wrestling coach from 2004-14 and compiled an 83-73 dual record.
Novak coached 21 NWCA Scholar All-Americans and 16 All-Americans, including a school-record five All-Americans in 2011. Minga Batsukh ’11 won three consecutive national championships from 2009-11.
He stepped down as head coach in 2014 and currently serves as SJU football’s co-defensive coordinator. The 2017 season will be his 18th as an assistant coach on the Johnnies’ sidelines.
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