A trio of Appalachian State wrestlers reached the medal stand at the Southern Scuffle on Wednesday, as Randall Diabe (197 pounds) and Alan Clothier (184) won seventh-place matches and Matt Zovistoski (149) placed eighth.
The Mountaineers' 43 points led three Southern Conference participants and ranked 12th among 23 teams in a field paced by Penn State.
App State had five wrestlers advance to the final day of competition in Chattanooga, and Zovistoski opened with a dramatic pin of Penn State's Jarod Verkleeren.
Trailing 5-4 in the closing seconds, Zovistoski worked out of Verkleeren's grasp by twisting his body in a way that enabled him to flip his opponent on his side. Zovistoski grabbed Verkleeren's left leg, rolled over the top of him for a go-ahead takedown with four seconds left and won on an improbable pin with time expiring.
Zovistoski's next match went to six extra periods, as seventh-ranked Jarrett Degen of Iowa State won 6-5 thanks to an escape in the first of two Tiebreaker-2 periods, and Navy's Jared Prince won by a major decision in the seventh-place match. Overall, Zovistoski went 5-3 in Chattanooga.
Clothier capped a 5-2 trip with an 8-5 decision against Lehigh's Chris Weiler in the seventh-place match, and Diabe closed a 4-2 tournament by winning a 3-1 decision against Navy's Josh Roetman in the seventh-place match. Clothier used a reversal with 54 seconds left to break a 4-4 tie, and he added a takedown in the closing seconds, while Diabe recorded a takedown with 30 seconds left to break a 1-1 tie.
Diabe began his 2-1 day with a 9-4 decision against George Mason's Eli Spencer, and Clothier's 2-1 day started with a 4-0 decision against Ohio's Hunter Yeargan. Clothier, who had lost a close match to Yeargan earlier this season, scored all of his points in the third period thanks to an escape, a takedown with nine seconds left and a bonus point for riding time.
Jonathan Millner (149 pounds) and Cary Miller (heavyweight) also competed Wednesday but lost their opening matches. Millner went 4-2 in Chattanooga, and Miller was 3-2.
App State returns to action Tuesday in Varsity Gym with its first Southern Conference dual meet of the season. The Mountaineers face Gardner-Webb at 7 p.m.
The Catawba Valley Community College women's basketball team suffered just its third setback of the season on Wednesday, falling 65-40 on the road to DI powerhouse Walters State.
Sherry Johnson and Zharia Brown paced the Red Hawks (6-3) with 10 points apiece in the contest, which was originally scheduled for Dec. 10, 2018, but was postponed due to inclement weather.
The Senators (11-2) surged ahead 28-12 at halftime against CVCC, holding the Red Hawks to just six points in the first and second quarters. Johnson led CVCC with four first-half points.
Walters State outscored Catawba Valley 37-28 in the second half en route to its sixth-straight victory. CVCC was held to just 25.9 percent shooting from the field and committed 26 turnovers — 19 of which came via steals by the Senators.
Tazah Hardin added four points and nine rebounds for the Red Hawks, who lost back-to-back games for the first time since Feb. 25, 2017.
The Red Hawks will try to rebound on Saturday when they return to conference play against Cape Fear. Tip off against the Sea Devils is set for 1 p.m. at the Tarlton Complex.
Appalachian State Wrestling had an eventful first day at the 2019 Southern Scuffle, presented by Compound Sportswear, with Randall Diabe's quarterfinal appearance at 197 pounds sandwiched between dramatic, overtime consolation round wins by Alan Clothier and Cary Miller.
Clothier won two of his first three matches at 184 pounds before falling behind 6-1 in the second period against Oklahoma State's Bear Hughes. Clothier received one point for a stalling penalty on Hughes and earned a two-point takedown late in the period before tying the match with a two-point reversal in the first 30 seconds of the third period. With a minute-plus advantage in ride time, Clothier was moments away from winning 7-6 in regulation, but Hughes executed a last-second escape to force overtime.
Clothier won 9-7 on a takedown with nine seconds left in that sudden victory period.
The 17th-ranked Diabe reached the quarterfinal round with a 14-3 major decision against North Carolina's Mark Chaid and a 3-2 decision against The Citadel's Sawyer Root, a fellow NCAA qualifier from 2018. After Root tied the match at 1-1 with an escape early in the third period, Diabe recorded a tiebreaking takedown with 1:21 remaining, and seventh-ranked Dakota Greer of Oklahoma State won by fall in the quarterfinal matchup.
Miller had a 1-1 start in the heavyweight division before he won a 2-0 decision against Edinboro's Jon Spaulding and pulled out a 4-3 decision against Navy's Thomas Ott in the sixth extra period. They were tied 1-1 at the end of regulation, and after nobody scored in the first sudden victory period, each wrestler earned an escape from the down position in the matching tiebreaker periods.
After no points were scored in the next sudden victory period, Miller jumped ahead 4-2 with an escape and a one-point stalling penalty on Ott in the first of two more matching tiebreaker periods. Ott managed an escape in the next one but nothing more.
Matt Zovistoski and Jonathan Millner are also still alive in the tournament after they both went 4-1 in the 149-pound division on Day 1. They won two matches apiece to reach the round of 16 before suffering initial losses and winning their first two matches in the consolation bracket.
Like Miller and Clothier, Codi Russell (133 pounds) and Michael Elliott (165) started the day 2-1 with a round of 32 victory, round of 16 loss and consolation bracket win. They both dropped their second consolation matches. The other Mountaineers to post wins Tuesday were Irvin Enriquez (141), Thomas Flitz (174), Paul Carson (197), Riley Smucker (unattached at 165), Barrett Blakely (unattached at 174) and Will Formato (unattached at 157).
Wrestling continues Wednesday at 10 a.m.
Randall Diabe (197)
Mark Chaid, North Carolina: W, MD 14-3
Sawyer Root, The Citadel: W, Dec, 3-2
#7 Dakota Geer, Oklahoma State: L, Fall 5:18
Cary Miller (HWT)
Robert Winters, No. Colorado: W, MD, 8-0
#20 Joey Goodhart, Drexel: L, Dec, 3-1 (SV-1)
Jon Spaulding, Edinboro: W, Dec, 2-0
Thomas Ott, Navy: W, Dec, 4-3 (TB-2)
Alan Clothier (184)
Jake Walker, Ohio: W, Dec, 9-4
Hunter Bolen, Virginia Tech: L, Fall: 2:13
Colbey Harlan, Stanford: W, MD, 10-1
Bear Hughes, Oklahoma State: W, Dec, 9-7 (SV-1)
Jonathan Millner (149)
Matt Fields, NC State: W, Dec, 9-5
PJ Gohn, Edinboro: W, MD, 11-3
#7 Jarrett Degen, Iowa State: L, MD, 18-8
Gary Dinmore, Rider: W, Dec, 3-2
Franklin Garcia, Binghamton: W, Dec, 7-1
Matt Zovistoski (149)
Matt Swanson, Binghamton: W, Fall: 6:03
Luke Gardner, Penn State: W, Dec, 6-3
Requir Van der Merwe, Stanford: L, Dec, 4-1
Riley Jacops, Columbia: W, Dec, 6-1
Thomas Stager, Air Force: W, Dec, 4-0:
Codi Russell (133)
Brandon Loperfido, Lock Haven: W, TF: 19-2
Collin Gerardi, Virginia Tech: L, Dec, 9-4
Sean Cannon, No. Colorado: W, MD, 9-0
Nick Farro, Lehigh: L, Dec, 7-5
Michael Elliott (165)
Macoy Flanagan, No. Colorado: W, Dec, 6-1
#19 Jesse Dellavecchia, Rider: L, Dec, 7-3 (SV-1)
Cameron Pine, Campbell: W, Fall: 7:00
Laurence Kosoy, Columbia: L, Fall: 6:27:
Irvin Enriquez (141)
Kevin Kelly, Binghamton: W, Fall: 4:45
Ian Parker, Iowa State: L, Dec, 9-4
Ryan Moore, FLWC: L, Dec, 10-7
Thomas Flitz (174)
Vincent Deprez, Binghamton : L, Dec, 6-3
Max Elling, Columbia: W, Dec, 10-4
Kyle Homet, Gardner-Webb: L, Dec, 8-7
Paul Carson (197)
Aaron Naples, Ohio: W, Dec, 6-4
Stephen Loiseau, Drexel: L, TF: 18-0
Kaden Sauer, Iowa State: L, Dec, 4-2:
Angel Najar (157)
Wyatt Sheets, Oklahoma State: L, Dec, 8-2
Quentin Hovis, Navy: L, Fall: 1:26
Anthony Brito (141)
Anthony Sparacio, Binghamton: L, Dec, 5-2
Julian Flores, Drexel: L, Dec, 8-2
Demazio Samuel (197)
Luke McGonigal, Lock Haven: L, Fall: 5:24
Tyrie Houghton, NC State: L, Fall: 2:54
Riley Smucker (165)
Billy Higgins, No. Colorado: L, Dec, 6-5
Joey Mazzarra, North Carolina: W, Dec, 9-6
Colston Diblasi, George Mason: L, Dec, 6-3:
Barrett Blakely (174)
Dean Sherry, Rider: L, TF: 16-1
Joe Terry, Ohio: W, Dec, 5-4
Spencer Carey, Navy: L, Fall: 0:19
Will Formato (157)
Wyatt Gerl, CSU Bakersfield: W, Dec, 2-0
#1 Jason Nolf, Penn State: L, Fall: 4:07
Kolby Ho, George Mason: L, Dec, 10-5
The college football season isn't over, but Appalachian State already has guaranteed itself of a No. 1 national ranking in one defensive category.
By allowing just eight passing touchdowns during the 2018 season, the Mountaineers will finish in a first-place tie with Mississippi State. The Bulldogs had allowed only five entering their bowl game against Iowa on Tuesday, but the Hawkeyes had three touchdown passes in a 27-22 victory.
App State tied for the lowest mark in the last three FBS seasons, as Northwestern allowed only five in 2015 and eight led the country in 2016, 2017 and 2018. Notre Dame ranked third this season with 10 allowed.
For comparison's sake, the Mountaineers intercepted 17 passes as a team, led by four apiece from cornerback Tae Hayes, safety Desmond Franklin and safety Josh Thomas.
The eight passing touchdowns allowed, coupled with 12 rushing touchdowns allowed, enabled App State to set a Sun Belt record with only 20 touchdowns allowed by its defense over the course of a full season. The previous low was 23 by North Texas in 2002.
No opponent had more than one passing touchdown against App State in 2018. It didn't give up any against Charlotte, South Alabama, Arkansas State and Coastal Carolina or allow any in the Sun Belt Championship game victory against Louisiana.
Head Coach Drew Cronic and the Lenoir-Rhyne Football Team has announced its mid-year signees for the 2019 recruiting class. The Bears are adding six players, four of which are from Georgia with one each from Florida and North Carolina.
Four signees are offensive players with a pair of defensive backs added. The class includes one true freshman, a pair of redshirt freshmen, two juniors and a graduate transfer.
Lenoir-Rhyne Football – 2019 Mid-Year Signees
OL Logan Kesler, 6-3, 295, FR (RS), Buford, Ga. (Savannah State) - HIGHLIGHTS
QB Wyatt Rector, 6-3, 225, FR (RS), Leesburg, Fla. (Western Michigan) - HIGHLIGHTS
DB, A'marrian Brown, 6-1, 195, JR, Warner Robins, Ga. (Highland Community College) - HIGHLIGHTS
DB, Marcus Rosser, 6-2, 180, JR, Atlanta, Ga. (San Diego Mesa Community College) - HIGHLIGHTS
QB, Tre' Luttrell, 6-1, 200, FR, Buford, Ga. (Habersham Central High School) - HIGHLIGHTS
TE, Josh Ramseur, 6-4, 220, Grad Transfer, Maiden N.C. (Elon University, Newton-Conover High School) - HIGHLIGHTS
"I think we met some needs here at the mid-year," commented Head Coach Drew Cronic, the AFCA Regional Coach of the Year in just his first season. "We added a couple defensive backs that should help us and a few quarterbacks since our depth was really tested last year. We also added at the offensive line and tight end positions. We needed depth at all these spots and were able to add quality guys and quality athletes to help us have a great spring. With the success we had this year, people want to play here and we are excited about that."
(All links provided by Lenoir-Rhyne Athletics)
Appalachian State men's basketball dropped a 83-55 contest at Saint Louis on Sunday afternoon in its non-conference finale.
Ronshad Shabazz paced the Mountaineers (5-8) with a team-high 13 points to go along with three rebounds. In the game, he moved past Wayne Duncan (1,734) for fourth place on the all-time scoring list.
Isaac Johnson added his fourth double-double of the season with 11 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. He has now recorded double digit rebounds in six games this season.
Justin Forrest chipped in with nine points and five rebounds, while Tyrell Johnson tallied seven points and four rebounds.
In the first half, the Billikens (9-4) used an 8-0 run to build a 19-5 lead. App State responded with the next seven points to pull within 19-12. Saint Louis pushed its lead back out to 11 points, but a late spurt by the Black and Gold cut its deficit to 34-28 at the intermission.
In the second half, a three-pointer by Forrest opened the scoring and pulled the Black and Gold within three points at 34-31 with 19:12 remaining. From there, the Billikens answered with a 13-3 run to open a 13-point lead at 47-34 with 13:39 left to play.
Later in the half, the Billikens pushed their lead to 16 points at 60-44 with 8:11 to play, thanks to a 6-0 spurt. Saint Louis put the game away with a late 11-0 run to open a 25-point lead at 76-51.
App State finished 19-of-59 (32.3 percent) from the field, while Saint Louis went 32-of-68 (47.1 percent) in shooting.
Javon Bess tallied a team-high 20 points and added nine rebounds to lead Saint Louis.
The Mountaineers will return to action on Thursday evening at South Alabama at 8 p.m. EST in their Sun Belt opener. App State will follow that with a 3 p.m. contest at Troy on Saturday. Both games can be seen on ESPN+.
Three of our area high school basketball tournaments ended on Saturday.
At the Dick's Sporting Goods Classic, in girls games, seventh place went to St. Stephens who was a 57-43 winner over Maiden. The fifth place game was won by South Caldwell. The Spartans defeated Fred T. Foard 53-42. Bunker Hill beat Alexander Central for third place, 55-41 and Newton-Conover downed Hickory in the championship game, 60-54.
In the boys games, seventh place went to St. Stephens, a 46-35 winner over South Caldwell. The fifth place game was won by Bunker Hill who defeated Fred T. Foard, 78-57. Third place went to Alexander Central, 44-35 winners over Newton-Conover. And the championship was won by Hickory, who defeated Maiden 55-53.
At the People's Bank Holiday Clash, Bandys girls won the championship with a 40-27 victory over Lincolnton. In the boys third place game, Bandys defeated Highland Tech 69-63.
The Lenoir-Rhyne Women's Basketball Team returned to the court after Holiday break with a home battle against the Limestone College Saints, but fell inside of Shuford Gymnasium after a fourth quarter comeback falls short, 77-73, on Saturday afternoon.
Four different Bears put up double-digit scoring efforts: Madi Suddreth (16 points), Hanna McClung (14 points), Madeline Hardy (13 points) and Kennedy Weigt (11 points).
The Saints were extremely efficient in their shooting from the floor, hitting on 53.7 percent of their shots taken for the game. The Bears shot just 38.2 percent in the contest.
Lenoir-Rhyne was impressive off the bench today, putting in 36 points in that category while the Saints only scored 28.
Today Weigt put up her season high in scoring with 11 and McClung scored 14, her second-highest output of the 2018-19 campaign.
Hardy has caught fire as of late and scored in double digits in each of the last three contests.
Lenoir-Rhyne remains strong in their nonconference record with an impressive 5-3 mark on the season.
The Bears go to 7-5 on the season. L-R will get back into South Atlantic Conference play with a match up against Tusculum University on Saturday, January 5 at 2 p.m.
Appalachian State University men's soccer freshman Camden Holbrook raked in another honor, as he was named one of the top 100 freshman by TopDrawerSoccer.com.
It comes to no surprise the Cary, N.C. native was named one of the top first-year players in the country, joining other freshmen from schools such as Stanford, Notre Dame, Wake Forest, Pitt, Virginia, and Washington just to name a few. Holbrook comes in at 93rd on the list, while he is one of two freshmen in the Sun Belt with Logan Luque (Georgia State) to earn national recognition.
The top 100 honor isn't the first time Holbrook has been noticed by TopDrawerSoccer. Earlier this season, he was named to the National Weekly Freshmen list.
Holbrook had a superb freshman campaign, scoring a team-high six goals and one assist for a team-best 13 points. Holbrook was tied for third in the Sun Belt in goals and fourth in points, which also led all freshmen. His three game-winning goals were tied for second and the most by a first-year player. He is one of two players and the only freshman in the conference to net a hat-trick, coming in a 3-2 win in the season opener at Jacksonville.
His four scores and one assist through two contests that weekend led to a Sun Belt Offensive Athlete of the Week award and garnered national recognition with the United Soccer Coaches National Player of the Week honor. Holbrook's numbers led to an All-Sun Belt Second Team selection.
With the help of Holbrook, the Mountaineers ended the season as the conference's top defensive team with seven shutouts, its highest finish in the Sun Belt and posted seven All-Sun Belt selections The Mountaineers finished 8-5-3 in the regular season, marking O'Keefe's best record since joining the squad in 2016.
In the Dick's Sporting Goods Classic Friday, in girls games, Fred T. Foard was a 59-56 winner over Maiden. South Caldwell defeated St. Stephens 35-28. In the semifinals, Hickory beat Alexander Central, 54-12 and Newton-Conover got by Bunker Hill 60-51 in overtime. In boys game Bunker Hill beat South Caldwell defeated 71-43. Fred T. Foard was 51-44 winner over St. Stephens. In the semifinals, Hickory edged out Newton-Conover 45-42 and Maiden beat Alexander Central 55-41.
At the Freedom Invitational, in girls games seventh place game, Draughn lost to McDowell 87-62. East Burke won the third place game over Asheville Christian, 55-34. And Freedom fell in the championship game 59-43. In the boys games, East Burke fell to McDowell in the seventh place game, 64-49. Freedom defeated Draughn in the championship game, 102-71.
At the Peoples Bank Holiday Clash, Bamdys girls won a semifinal match over East Gaston, 56-51. On the boys side, Bandys fell to North Lincoln in semifinal contest, 70-48.
Finally at the Chick-Fil-A Classic, Hibriten girls won third place with a 52-20 win over Piedmont Community Charter. West Caldwelll lost in the championship to Wilkes Central, 60-24. In the boys contests, West Caldwell lost in the third place contest, 81-39. Hibriten won the championship 62-47.
Appalachian State head football coach Eliah Drinkwitz announced Thursday that Jeff Jones has been named Director of Athletic Performance for football.
“We are excited to welcome Jeff and his family to the App Family,” Drinkwitz said. “Jeff takes great pride in having a superior strength and conditioning program. His focus will be on player development, toughness and discipline.”
Jones’ career has included being part of championship football teams at Auburn (2013 SEC Champion and national runner-up), Arkansas State (2012 Sun Belt Champion) and Boise State (2006, 2008 and 2009 WAC Champion; 2007 and 2010 Fiesta Bowl Champion).
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to join the App State family,” Jones said. “App State is a special place, and I couldn’t be more excited to work with Coach Drinkwitz and his staff. I keep hearing about the outstanding culture and tradition of App State Football. I can’t wait to be part of it.”
Jones comes to the High Country after serving as the director of athletic performance at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, since 2016. While at Luther, he was responsible for the design and implementation of athletic performance programs for all 19 varsity sports.
Prior to Luther, Jones served as an assistant athletic performance coach at Auburn, working specifically with football from 2012-16. He helped design the offseason training program for the Tigers and implemented programs for NFL combine preparation and NFL Pro Days.
He worked at Arkansas State in 2012 as the director of athletic performance for baseball and head assistant of athletic performance in football, while he served as an assistant director of athletic performance at Boise State from 2007-12. In addition to working with the Broncos’ football team, he had primarily responsibility for the strength and conditioning of the gymnastics, men’s and women’s tennis and softball teams during that time.
Jones earned his Bachelor of Arts in exercise science-health promotion from Central College (Pella, Iowa) in 2006 and obtained his Masters of Education in curriculum and instruction in foundational studies from Boise State in 2011. While at Central, he was a four-year member of Dutch football teams that captured two Iowa Conference titles and tallied a record of 28-13.
A member of the NSCA-CSCS, Jones is a certified speed and agility coach by the CSAC, and has certificates in CPR/AED and in muscle activation techniques by MAT Jumpstart.
Jones and his wife, Rachael, have one son, Colt.
High school basketball across the area continued with many holiday themed basketball tournaments. We start first with games of the Dick's Sporting Goods Classic, held at Catawba Valley Communtiy College's Tarlton Complex.
In girls games yesterday, Alexander Central defeated St. Stephens, 45-34. Bunker Hill got by Maiden 51-29. Hickory beat South Caldwell 68-36 and Newton-Conover was a 68-36 winner over Fred T. Foard.
In boys games, Alexander Central defeated Bunker Hill, 70-67 in overtime. Hickory beat Fred T. Foard, 78-39. Maiden beat South Caldwell, 63-36 and Newton-Conover beat St. Stephens, 60-51.
At the Freedom Invitational, first in the girls game, Draughn lost to AC Reynolds, 57-37. East Burke lost in the semifinal East Burke fell to Erwin, 56-45. Freedom won the other semifinal matchup, beating Asheville Christian, 56-33.
In boys contests, East Burke lost to AC Reynolds, 82-63. In the semifinals, Draughn beat R-S Central, 74-70 in overtime and Freedom beat North Buncombe, 99-82
In the Peoples Bank Holiday Clash, both the girls and boys of Bandys had first round byes.
At the Chick-Fil-A Holiday Classic, in girls games, Hibriten lost to Wilkes Central, 45-36. West Caldwell beat Piedmont Community Charter, 61-14. In the boys games, Hibriten defeated Wilkes Central 59-54 and West Caldwell lost to Piedmont Community Charter, 79-60.
Girls action from the Freedom Invitational yesterday saw East Burke defeat R-S Central 75-40. Draughn lost to Asheville Christian Academy, 40-34. And host school Freedom won over AC Reynolds, 60-21.
On the boys side of this tournament, East Burke lost to North Buncombe, 78-44. Draughn edged out McDowell, 72-68 in overtime. Finally, Freedom outlasted A.C. Reynolds, 91-44.
Appalachian State head coach Eliah Drinkwitz added Louisiana Tech assistant Erik Link, who has won one FBS national title, claimed four conference championships and made seven postseason appearances in his last seven college seasons, to the Mountaineers' staff as the special teams coordinator Wednesday.
Link spent the 2018 season as the special teams coordinator for Louisiana Tech, which won the SoFi Hawaii Bowl to cap an eight-win season in which the Bulldogs blocked four kicks to rank 10thnationally. Like App State, Louisiana Tech got off to a strong start on special teams, as it had three blocks in its first four games.
"Erik is a championship coach who understands that our culture is reflected in our special teams play," Drinkwitz said. "He's dedicated to developing young men through football and education. He and his wife, Jill, will be a great addition to our App family."
Link and Drinkwitz were both quality control assistants as young members of an Auburn staff that helped the Tigers win a national title with a 14-0 record in 2010, and Link contributed to another BCS championship game appearance as a special teams/offensive analyst with Auburn in 2013. In those two SEC title seasons, plus a stint as Montana State's special teams coordinator and tight ends coach from 2011-12, Link was part of four consecutive conference championships.
Including two seasons back in his hometown of Des Moines, Iowa, as the head coach and assistant athletics director at Roosevelt High School, which went winless the season before his 2016 arrival but won the 2017 city championship, Link has averaged 8.5 victories a year since 2010. Montana State reached the FCS quarterfinals in 2011 and 2012, while Auburn followed its BCS title game appearance in 2013 with an Outback Bowl appearance in 2014 and a Birmingham Bowl win in 2015.
"I couldn't be more excited to join the App State family," Link said. "I am humbled by the opportunity to work with the outstanding student-athletes, coaches and staff at App. My family and I are grateful to Coach Drinkwitz and look forward to embracing the championship culture at App and within the Boone community."
Link has more than 15 years of coaching experience at both the collegiate and high school levels, including stints at Iowa State and Drake, his alma mater.
From 2006-08, Link was a member of Iowa State's staff in a variety of roles, including offensive line graduate assistant (2006), assistant director of football operations (2007-08) and director of high school relations (2007-08). Following his time with the Cyclones, Link was a teacher and coach at Texas' Keller High School in 2009.
Link began his collegiate coaching career in 2004 as a defensive graduate assistant at Drake, where he played from 1999-02 as an offensive lineman. In 2005, Link moved into the role of defensive line coach for Drake before joining the Iowa State staff the following season. Link made his coaching debut at North High School in Des Moines in 2003, when he served as an assistant coach on the offensive line.
During his playing days, Link was named to the A.D. Honor Roll at Drake four straight years. He lettered for the Bulldogs from 2000-02 and helped lead them to the 2000 Pioneer Football League Championship.
Link is a 2003 graduate of Drake with a bachelor's degree in secondary education. He earned his master's degree in public administration in executive leadership from Drake in 2008.
Link and his wife have one daughter: Evelyn.