|FAST FACTS ABOUT CHRIS AYRES|
|• coached Brett Harner to become Princeton's ninth All-American in program history (2016)|
|• led Princeton to its best finish (5th) at the EIWA Championships since 1978 (2016)|
|• named the 2016 Ivy League Head Coach Of The Year|
|• has sent 14 wrestlers to NCAAs in last seven seasons (only 1 went in prior six)|
|• led Princeton to first Ivy League championship showdown in 30 years (2016)|
|• has brought in four nationally ranked recruiting classes in the last 7 years (none in prior 20)|
|• has coached 23 All-Ivy League honorees since 2010 (only 3 at Princeton from 2004-09)|
EMAIL Coach Ayres here
When Brett Harner put Preston Weigel on his back in the World's Most Famous Arena, Chris Ayres pounded the mat with an emotion rarely shown from the determined head coach of Princeton Wrestling.
Can you blame him? After 10 grueling, driven years trying to rebuild the Tiger wrestling program, he punctuated the program's best season in decades by bringing the ninth All-American in Princeton history. That came two weeks after delivering the program's first EIWA champion since 2003, and its best finish as a team since 1978.
Yes, that celebration was deserved, but it didn't last long. Ayres still knows there is a mountain to climb at Princeton, and he has enjoyed the enormous steps his squad has taken over the last few years.
Last season alone, Ayres sent four wrestlers to the NCAA Championships (all of whom will return next season, and three of whom made their second straight trip), and he had six wrestlers place at the EIWA Championships, which were held in Jadwin Gym for the second time in five years. Princeton placed fifth as a team at EIWAs, its best finish since 1978, and it wrestled in a winner-take-all match for the Ivy League Championship for the first time in three decades.
How far has the program come? In Ayres' first two years, Princeton went 0-35 and rarely had to worry about the postseason after Day 1 of the EIWAs.
Of course, this isn't a solo venture. Ayres has brought in one of the most credible staffs in the nation; Sean Gray, a two-time All-America wrestler at Virginia Tech, spent seven seasons as the top assistant at Boston University. Joe Dubuque is a two-time NCAA champion and one of the finest wrestlers ever produced in New Jersey. Nick Heflin, a recent NCAA finalist at 197, just completed his first year as volunteer assistant, and previous assistant Andy Lausier is helping rebuild the Sacred Heart program as its head coach.But the constant all along has been Ayres, whose combination of positivity and passion for the sport carried Princeton through several tough years and into potentially one of the most exciting eras in a century of Tiger wrestling.
A former EIWA champion and two-time recipient of Lehigh's "Outstanding Athlete" honor during his undergraduate career at Lehigh, Ayres spent five years as a Lehigh assistant before taking over at Princeton. During his tenure, the Mountain Hawks claimed five straight EIWA team championships and produced 12 All-Americas and two national champions. Ayres worked specifically with five of the All-Americas in all aspects of training.
Ayres came to the Lehigh wrestling program as an undergraduate walk-on, but ended his career among the best in Mountain Hawk history. 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. Over his four-year career, he never missed a dual match. In the summer of 2001, Ayres placed fourth in the U.S. Senior Open Nationals and fourth at the U.S. World Team Trials. He also finished fifth at the 2002 Team Trials.
Prior to wrestling for Lehigh, Ayres wrestled at Newton High School and Blair Academy in New Jersey, where he won 69 bouts. In his senior season Ayres was a District Champion and a regional runner-up at 135 pounds. With a model work ethic, Ayres was the first Lehigh Wrestler in 38 years to become an All-American without earning a medal at the state championship level.
He earned his undergraduate degree in marketing and earned his master’s in elementary education at Lehigh in 2001. Ayres and his wife Lori have a daughter Chloe and a son Atticus.