Coach Erisman Named Pac-12 Coach of the Year, Nasir Bailey Earns Freshman of the Year Honor

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LITTLE ROCK – The Pac-12 Conference has named head coach Neil Erisman the 2023-24 Coach of the Year, while Nasir Bailey was tabbed 2023-24 Freshman of the Year following the conclusion of the wrestling season. It adds to the pair’s list of accolades, as last week at the NCAA Tournament, Coach Erisman was recognized as NWCA Coach of the Year and Coach of the Tournament, while Bailey was selected as Pac-12 Tournament Wrestler of the Meet before going on to become a first-time All-American at the NCAA Championships.

Thanks to the guidance of Coach Erisman and his staff, the Trojans captured the Pac-12 regular season, coming away as the conference Dual Meet Champions. The team won four out of five dual meets and coming out on top in tiebreakers over Arizona State. This year was the first time that Little Rock wrestling had ever defeated conference foes Arizona State, Cal Poly, and Oregon State. The program then was crowned Tournament Runners-Up at the Pac-12 Championships, jumping up three spots from their fifth-place finish last season.

At the National Tournament, Little Rock finished within the top 20 as a team, coming in 19th overall out of 68 teams represented at the NCAA Championships. It was the second time that Little Rock had appeared at the National Tournament and the first time that the squad qualified more than wrestler. The Trojans came home with two All-Americans and placers in Nasir Bailey and Stephen Little.

“I am extremely happy for Coach Erisman being recognized at the Pac-12 Coach of the Year,” said Michael Gibbs, Associate AD for Compliance and wrestling sport administrator. “To begin a program five years ago and compete in the conference with the names of Arizona State, Stanford and Oregon State can be a daunting challenge. Coach Erisman had stuck to his vision and with tireless recruiting and development built a roster that enabled us to not only compete, but win the regular season dual championship. I couldn’t be more proud of Coach Erisman and the wrestling program’s accomplishments this season.”

True freshman Nasir Bailey led the way for the Trojans at the NCAA Tournament, finishing 4th in the 133-pound bracket and becoming the program’s first All-American. Bailey finished with a team-high record of 29-4, the most wins collected in a single season in program history. He is the first Little Rock wrestler to win a conference annual award.

“Super happy for Nasir,” said Coach Erisman. “Very much earned. It’s super impressment what he did both at the conference tournament, at the National Tournmanet, and all year. We’re looking forward to many more to come for him. It’s just the beginning of greatness.”

Read the full Pac-12 release here.

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Written by Arkansas Wrestle