Pat Santoro, a two-time NCAA national champion and four-time All-American, returns for his fifth season at the helm of the Maryland program. In just four years, Santoro has brought the Terrapin program back to the forefront of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Under Santoro's tutelage, the Terps have steadily improved year after year. After building a squad that could compete in his first two seasons, Santoro's efforts became noticable in 2006 as Maryland went 4-1 in the ACC regular season and won a share of the conference dual meet championship. In 2007, however, the program reached new heights and returned to prominence as it went undefeated in the ACC and won its first outright dual championship since 1974.
In 2007, Santoro guided the Terps to its best season in school history as they went 17-5, tying the program record for wins in a season. Maryland finished second at the ACC Tournament as well, its best showing since 1990.
In addition to the team's performance, a number of wrestlers reached new heights under Santoro. Graduated senior Jason Kiessling and freshman Mike Letts won the ACC title at 165 and 174 pounds, respectively, while sophomore James Knox and redshirt freshman Hudston Taylor were All-ACC honorees as they reached their respective finals. Letts, Kiessling, and Taylor, who earned one of the conference's four wild card bids, advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
Taylor, who went 29-9, barely missed becoming the first Terp All-American since 1997 as he lost 4-3 in the round of 12. He ranked fourth in the nation in pins last season. Kiessling and Letts both led the Terps with 30 wins apiece.
In 2005, Maryland finished first in the ACC at 4-1 as Andrew Schlaffer captured the ACC title at 149 pounds and Brendan Byrne (133) and Adam James (157) both advanced to the finals of their respective weight classes.
In addition to their recent success on the mat, the Terps have flourished in other areas under Santoro. In two of the last three seasons, Maryland earned the ACC Sportsmanship Award and a pair of student-athletes were recognized for their efforts in the classroom. Josh Haines and Andrew Schlafferwere placed on the All-ACC Academic Wrestling Team last season bringing Santoro's total up to six in the two years the Academic Team has been in existance.
Santoro has also proven he can bring some of the most talented wrestlers to College Park. This year's incoming class was ranked 21st in the nation by Wrestling International Newsmagazine. Top-notch recruits are attracted to the program because of Santoro's proven track record of success. In his nine seasons as an assistant coach at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., he helped the Mountain Hawks ascend on the national scene. In 2003, Santoro's last season with the program, Lehigh finished fourth in the team standings at the 2003 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships and Santoro was named the national Assistant Coach of the Year by the National Wrestling Coaches Association. Lehigh had national top-10 finishes in three of his last four seasons and has finished either first or second in the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association seven times in the last eight years, including four team championships. Santoro has also served as an assistant coach at Duquesne (1993-94) and Penn State (1991-93).
In his first season in College Park, the Terps were 4-9 in dual meet action. At the ACC Tournament, though, Maryland's Jason Kiessling (157) and Barry Stein (HWT) advanced to the finals and were named to the ACC All-Tournament team. In his next season he helped mentor Charlie Pinto to the ACC title at 141 pounds and a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Santoro brings to Maryland credentials that include national success as both a coach and as a student-athlete. Santoro was an All-American wrestler at the University of Pittsburgh, earning that status each season from 1986 through 1989. He won NCAA Division I individual national championships at 142 pounds in 1988 and 1989, and was a three-time individual champion in the Eastern Wrestling League. He was the recipient of Pittsburgh's Golden Panther Award in 1989, recognizing the outstanding athlete of the year.
Following his success as a collegiate wrestler, Santoro went on to a stellar international career, being ranked among the nation's top wrestlers for more than a decade. He was a member of the U.S. National Team in 1995, 1996, 1998 and 1999, serving as an alternate for the 1996 Olympic Team and the 1999 World Team. He placed fourth at the 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials, third at the 1992 Trials and was runner-up at the U.S. Open Freestyle competition in 1992. Santoro graduated with a bachelor's degree in psychology from Pittsburgh in 1992. While there he was a two-time team captain and a member of Athletes in Action and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He is a member of the EWL and District XI Wrestling halls of fame.
Santoro resides in Columbia with his wife, Julie, his daughter Leah, and their guard dog Cooper.