T.J. Bevans has dedicated his time to the Solon wrestling program.
He helped lead the Spartans to their only State Duals appearance as a wrestler in 2001 and has served on the coaching staff the last seven seasons, including one season as interim co-head coach.
Solon Athletics Director Keith McSweeney and Bevans announced Thursday that he has been hired to be the Spartans new head wrestling coach, pending school board approval, replacing Brooks McLaren, who stepped down after last season.
Bevans was a two-time state qualifier for Solon, winning more than 125 career matches., and graduated in 2002. He has helped coach 25 state qualifiers and nine state medalists, including Class 2A 220-pound state champion and University of Iowa commit Lance Evans in February.
“It’s a great opportunity,” said Bevans, who also lettered in football for the Spartans. “It means more since I’m from Solon. I’m very excited. I can’t wait to put my own spin on it.”
Bevans has earned support from the administration. The passion for Solon athletics, enthusiasm and rapport he has with existing members of the Spartan wrestling community made him a good fit.
“I have tremendous confidence that T.J. will do an excellent job leading our wrestling program,” McSweeney said in a news release. “His energy and passion for Solon Wrestling are obvious to anyone that has come in contact with him. He bleeds Black and Orange and I know our wrestlers and wrestling supporters have a tremendous amount of respect for him and his abilities to lead our program.”
As a prep, Bevans competed for state championship coach Mark Reiland and Blake Williams before they became head coaches at Iowa City West and Cedar Rapids Prairie, respectively. He said he knows what it takes to bring more wrestling success to Solon.
“I’ve seen a lot of good high school coaches,” Bevans said. “I wrestled and worked with very good ones.”
The Spartans were 13-7 last season. Three state qualifiers return, including fifth-place heavyweight Logan Linderbaum (36-10), Louis Gnida (39-7) and Kade Steuhm (24-5). Solon finished 10th at the 2014 state tournament. District qualifiers Cole Fritz (28-16) and Trevor Nelson (33-8) reached districts and expected to contribute next season.
“This team is very deep,” Bevans said. “We have a lot coming back. This is one of the best teams I’ve seen here.”
Bold claim considering one of their best wrestlers in program history is moving on to the NCAA Division I level. Bevans confirmed that Evans, who announced it via social media, has committed to wrestle for Iowa Coach Tom Brands. Evans capped a perfect senior season, claiming a state title with a 31-0 mark.
Bevans said Evans opened his career with a 2-11 mark at 152, but grew and progressed into a three-time state medalist, placing fifth at 195 as a junior and seventh at 182 as a sophomore. He compiled more than 80 wins, missing the entire 2012-13 regular season due to offseason surgery to repair torn articular cartilage.
Bevans said Evans should make a good transition, because he can get bigger and he is just a 17-year-old senior.
“He’s got a big frame,” Bevans said. “He is athletic and is going to be a quicker heavyweight. He’s good on top. He won’t give up many escapes when he gets to 260 (pounds).”
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