Cumberland University Wrestling Program Adds Two Alums to Coaching Staff

Wrestling Program adds two Alums to Coaching Staff
Photo from Cumberland University

Cumberland University head wrestling coach announces the addition of two wrestling alums to his staff. The Phoenix welcomed back former two-time All-American and previous assistant coach Nate Croley and recent graduate and Mid-South Conference Champion Ryan Long.

“My former assistant coach Tyler Smith left big shoes to be filled. I feel fortunate to be able to bring in two former Cumberland student-athletes,” Hicks said. “These guys are very familiar with our University and our program. The young men in our wrestling program will benefit from their expertise and mentorship of both of these young men. The transition should go smoothly as we get back to work soon.”

Smith left his post with the Phoenix over the summer to accept the Director of Wrestling and Men’s Head Coach position at Brewton-Parker.

Croley returns to Cumberland after spending time at Green Hill High School as an assistant coach in the wrestling program and a full time teacher. In the short time of Green Hill’s existence, Croley helped lead the Hawks to a Top 10 finish twice. He hs coached seven state placers and one TSSAA State Champion. He has had 15 athletes qualify for the state tournament.

The former All-American spent two seasons as the assistant coach for the Phoenix from 2018-2020. Croley helped coach seven NAIA All-Americans in just two seasons. In 2020-21, he helped lead the Phoenix to their highest-finish at Nationals with a fifth-place finish. That squad set a program record with five All-Americans that year.

As a competitor, Croley earned All-American honors his junior and senior seasons. He finished in seventh place in 2015-16 at 157 at the national championships in Topeka, Kan. He finished that season with a 25-6 at 157 and 30-9 overall at two different weight classes.

Croley repeated as an All-American in 2016-17 after placing third. The Pigeon Forge, Tenn., native lost in the main draw semifinals at 157 but came back with a pair of victories in the wrestleback to claim third place. He finished 32-10 overall in 2016-17.

He graduated from Cumberland with a bachelor’s Degree in Special Education in May 2017.

Hicks also announces the addition of Cumberland graduate Ryan Long to the staff.

Long is fresh off his wrestling career finishing out his last two seasons at Cumberland this past year. Prior to joining the Phoenix in 2021, Long wrestled at Brewton-Parker College in Georgia.

The Knoxville, Tenn., native won the 174-pound Mid-South Conference title and made his first trip to the NAIA National Championships a year ago.

Long was a national qualifier for the Barons spending three years with the program. He graduated with his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in health and wellness from Brewton-Parker. He earned his Master’s of Sport and Exercise Science Degree in 2023 from Cumberland.

The Cumberland wrestlers report to campus in the middle of August before preparing for the upcoming 2023-24 season.

Source: Cumberland University



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