Upon his completion of military duty, Kearns returned to the Maryland wrestling program in 1972-73 and assisted Coach McHugh and the team. Wrestling during this time for the Baltimore Central YMCA, Kearns won the national YMCA Greco championship, the prestigious New York Athletic Club Greco championship and two South Atlantic AAU freestyle championships.
After receiving his degree, he moved to Minnesota to train and wrestle for the United States Greco Roman team. Returning to Maryland in 1976, Kearns was named head coach at Dulaney High School in Timonium, Md. In 1977, he was selected to take the head coaching position at Johns Hopkins University, but returned to Maryland in 1980, where he has served as an assistant coach for 27 years before moving to an administrative position in 2004.