University of the Ozarks has hired head coaches for two of its newest sports programs.
Former Wartburg College assistant coach Jason Zastrow has been hired by Ozarks to begin its men’s wrestling program for the 2014-2015 season. In addition, recent Iowa State University graduate Tori Cox has been tabbed to lead the new competitive cheer/STUNT program.
Zastrow, a native of Coon Rapids, Minn., brings NCAA Division III championship experience from wrestling powerhouse Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa. Ozarks, which announced its new men’s wrestling program in early May, lands an assistant coach from the most dominant NCAA Division III men’s wrestling program in the country. Zastrow served as the assistant from 2010-2013 where he helped the program to three consecutive NCAA Division III titles. The Knights also won three National Wrestling Coaches Association dual titles at the national level and three Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference titles. The Knights posted a 56-1 record during his time there.
"His national championship experience will be extremely valuable to our program," said Ozarks Athletics Director Jimmy Clark. "He has been a part of the most successful NCAA Division III men’s wrestling program in the country. We feel fortunate to have a coach of his caliber with national title experience. He understands the value of NCAA Division III, and the role it plays within the collegiate experience."
During his tenure at Wartburg, the program produced seven individual NCAA Division III titles, 22 All-Americans and 17 Academic All-Americans. Wartburg won its fourth-straight NCAA Division III Championship in March to bring its total to 11 National Championships.
"It is an exciting time not only for me, but also for the university," said Zastrow. "We will all watch the program grow together. Wrestling is gaining popularity in the state, and it is a perfect opportunity for the campus to grow with it."
Zastrow wrestled at Wartburg four seasons and qualified for nationals his senior year. He is especially thankful for the opportunity to work at an NCAA Division III institution like Ozarks.
"I want my wrestlers to have the same good experiences I had as an NCAA Division III student-athlete," said Zastrow. "There is an equal balance between being a student and being an athlete at this level. Students have the chance to receive one-on-one attention academically and athletically. But they need to be students first. I not only want guys that wrestle well, but I want them to be good students and respected citizens. I want student-athletes that we are pride of after graduation."
Prior to Wartburg, he was the assistant coach at NCAA Division III Central College from 2007-2010, where he helped turn the program around. His first season as an assistant, the Dutch went 0-12, but by his third year, the program posted a ten-win season. After Central College, he went to Springdale Har-Ber High School, where he served as the assistant coach this year. In his one season there, the Wildcats won a conference title and finished third in the state championships.
Cox, a native of Winterset, Iowa, brings a NCAA Division I cheerleading background as well as head coaching experience to Ozarks’ first-year program.
Cox cheered at University of Northern Iowa two years as a flyer for both the All-Girl and coed squads. While at UNI, Cox attended Universal Cheerleaders Association camps in Wisconsin and Orlando, competing in the small coed squad division. During the 2013-2014 season, Cox was the head coach of three different competition teams for the Iowa All Stars, where she choreographed dance, cheer, stunts, tumbling and pyramids. Each of Cox’s Iowa All-Star teams had multiple first-place finishes last season. Prior to her stint with the Iowa All Stars, Cox served as the head cheerleading coach at Dolphin Gymnastics from 2011-2013. Cox was instrumental in developing the squad into a championship caliber program as it went on to win Grand Champion recognition at a number of Midwest competitions.
"We are very excited to have Tori Cox begin our competitive cheer/STUNT program," said Clark. "She has a wealth of experience. She is energetic and has great ideas to develop our program. The element her program will bring to our department is exciting."
Cox, who earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Iowa State University, has extensive training in gymnastics and cheerleading. As a gymnast and a three-year collegiate cheerleader, she was named America’s Best Kansas City Level 6 Open International National Champion and JamFest National Champion. She is a two-time national champion in Level 6 competition.
Ozarks will be the first program in the state to offer competitive STUNT.
"I am excited to be able to start a brand new program at Ozarks," said Cox. "We will have the first stunt program in the state, so the timing is excellent as I believe this sport will continue to grow. I feel fortunate to be a part of it. The administration here is supportive of the program and recognizes the importance of it."