Excel Wrestling is a Christian-led 501(c)3 organization, founded and developed in 1993. EXCEL Wrestling’s USAW Junior Olympic Training sites run throughout the school year in Colorado, Iowa and Wyoming. Over the past 24 years, Excel wrestlers have entered the high school state finals 220 times with more than 100 of those wrestlers winning High School State Championships.
It is an organizational goal to take each of our Olympic Development Program wrestlers as far as they can go both on the mat and in life! Excel wrestlers have reached All American status more than 30 times at the Fargo Cadet and Junior Freestyle/Greco Roman Championships with five earning individual national championships. Currently 37 Excel wrestlers are competing on the college level at 16 Division I Universities and 6 NAIA, Division II and III Universities.
Steve Knight and the Excel board of directors began Excel Wrestling in Colorado with a mission of improving wrestling at all levels as well as impacting the lives of wrestlers nationwide. This is Coach Knight’s 22nd year with the program. Excel Wrestling began in April of 1993 at Niwot High School, Niwot, Colorado, under the guidance and supervision of Niwot Head Coach Gary Daum. The Excel Olympic Development Programs run throughout the entire school year. The Excel Summer Training Camps for 2017 will be held in Colorado, Iowa, Wyoming and Hawaii.
Knight is thankful for his own career on the mat and the people who impacted his life, especially the Iowa State Coaching Staff. He commented that before he began working with them, his technique and skills weren’t truly polished. “They all played a big part in skill development for me. They improved my shots and taught me how to wrestle on the mat, to leg ride, defend legs and get away underneath and probably even more about life”, said Steve. I was fortunate to have a great college experience at ISU. It prepared me well for going on to compete and train the next four years.”
Knight was an NCAA All American and Big 12 Champion for Iowa State before becoming an assistant coach at ISU and training for the 1992 Olympics. Prior to the ’92 Olympic trials, Knight moved from ISU to train full-time with Team FOXCATCHER. Overall, he competed in 14 international competitions including several international duals, compiling over 100 matches abroad. At the Pan American Championships, he defeated the Cuban Olympic Bronze Medallist in route to the Gold medal, qualifying the weight class for the Games. Knight travelled as an alternate/training partner to the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain at 62kg. In addition to defeating Cuban Olympic Bronze Medalist Lazaro Reinoso, he saw victories during the span of his career over US Olympic Champion Kendall Cross, US World Medalist Cary Kolat, Canadian World Silver Medalist Gary Bohay, Swiss Olympic Place finisher Martin Mueller, Puerto Rican Pan American Silver Medalist/Olympic Place finisher Anibal Nieves and others. “The tough part for me was coaching and competing while I was still going to school. It was a lot to juggle, but I really believe it was worth it. If I could do it again, I wouldn’t change much.” Knight completed both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at Iowa State.
Since retiring from competition, Knight spent several years in Colorado, not only developing the Excel Olympic Development Programs, but also working with athletes at the US Olympic Center. Steve has been a member of the USA Wrestling’s National Team Coaches Pool for the past 20 years. He has served on the US Olympic Coaching Staff in 2000 and 2004 and coached in two World Championships. He also coached two US Pan American teams including a Gold Medal US Championship in 2004. Steve coached in his fifth consecutive Olympic Trials last spring in Iowa City, IA at the 2016 US Olympic Trials.
Over the years, the Team Excel high school wrestlers have also had great success. More than 100 individual state championships have been won with many of these wrestlers going on to compete on the college level. “All of our Olympic Development Programs have been blessed with some top notch coaches and loyal families who have really supported Excel Wrestling. Many of our training site coaches have had outstanding careers themselves, but more importantly, they really know how to teach the sport. They are awesome role models for our kids and do an exceptional job”, said Knight.
Steve commented, “For those who have been involved in our Olympic Development Programs, continuing to train and compete throughout the entire school year has really paid off. I think it’s a great way to get ahead of the game! We do our best to work with their high school coaches and help get them to college. That’s important to us. We feel strongly about the college wrestling experience and completing a college education. It is a goal of our organization to see these guys continue training after college at the US Olympic Training Center or one of the top regional training sites in the country, but regardless, with a college education, they’re prepared for what the rest of life will bring”.
Knight also shared his appreciation for all the high school coaches throughout the country who he and his staff come in contact with each summer. “I’m thankful that we have been able to build strong relationships with so many coaches and their wrestlers. Whether it’s at a summer camp or our Olympic Development Programs, we really enjoy working with them and we’re honored to be able to help and make a difference in their lives.”
For more information on Excel Wrestling, please call the Excel Olympic Development Office at 515-446-2454