THE 2007 MR. MAT AWARD --
COACH RICK LINK
A 1972 graduate of St. John's High School, Rick Link's name has always been intimately 'linked' to OVAC Wrestling.
As a high school competitor, Rick Link had a stellar athletic career. On the gridiron, Link played guard and linebacker at the varsity level for four seasons. In fact, Rick Link was the first-team guard for the first annual Ohio Valley Athletic Conference's Ohio vs. West Virginia All-Star football game during the 1972 season.
On the Irish mats things were no different. This St. John's wrestling dynamo was a two-time OVAC Champion at 175 pounds (1971 & 1972). Link was also a two-time District Champion, and he was the first Irish wrestler to place in the Ohio State Championships. As a junior and senior, Rick Link placed fourth and second respectively at 175 pounds. Link had a 24-1 record as a senior, experiencing his only defeat in the Ohio state finals.
Rick Link's mat magnificence continued at West Liberty State College, where he was four-year varsity wrestler for legendary coach Vince Monseau. At the 190-pound weight class, Link was a four-time West Virginia Conference Champion. He was also an All-American, placing sixth at the National Wrestling Tournament held at Edinboro, PA.
After graduating from college, Rink Link set his sights on becoming a master of the mats as a wrestling coach at Union Local High School, and he brilliantly accomplished his goals. During his 22-year coaching tenure (17 years at the helm of the Jets' wrestling team), Link coached three undefeated dual meet squads. He coached five OVAC individual champions, and his teams won five OVAC AAA Championships. Rick Link was also named OVAC AAA "Coach of the Year" on three separate occasions.
At the state level, Rick Link's wrestlers demonstrated their prowess on the circled mats as well. His best team-performance at the Ohio state tournament was tenth place in 1987. He also boasts nine place winners in the Ohio State Championships.
To top it off, Coach Link produced three individual Ohio Division II Champions. They include John Gibueat in 1992, Jim Bob Lewis during the 1995 season, and Travis Clark in 1998.
Coach Rick Link even turned heads at the national level in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In front of college scouts from across the country, Link produced Union Local's only National High School Champion John Gibeaut. Gibeaut later competed at the Division I level, matriculating and wrestling at the University of Pittsburgh.
Rick Link has been a Health and Physical Education at Union Local High School for 31 years. He is also a 35-year member of the Wheeling YMCA.
Coach Link and his loving wife Linda of 26 years have two sons: Christopher, who is a senior student at Ohio State University, and Patrick.
The Ohio Valley Athletic Conference salutes Coach Rick Link, a true master of the mats, as the 2007 recipient of the prestigious Mr. Mat award.