GREENWOOD – Lander has tabbed its first wrestling coach as athletics director Brian Reese announced the hiring of R.C. LaHaye on Tuesday.
LaHaye brings to Lander an impressive career both as a competitor and coach. LaHaye spent the past four seasons as the associate head coach at Newberry after serving as the first head coach for Grand Canyon's wrestling program for seven years.
"Today starts a new chapter for Lander Athletics with the hiring of R.C. LaHaye as our first head wrestling coach," said Reese. "Coach LaHaye brings a deep understanding of the sport and a passion for leading young men. This hire should give Bearcat fans great confidence that bright days are ahead for Lander wrestling."
"I would like the thank Brian Reese and President Consentino for the opportunity to start the wrestling program at Lander," LaHaye said. "I couldn't be more excited to hit the ground running and start recruiting the first crop of Bearcat wrestlers."
LaHaye played a key role in developing Newberry into a championship contender, helping lead the Wolves to three ECAC championships and an NCAA Super Region Championship in four seasons. Newberry went 41-14 in dual matches during LaHaye's tenure.
Prior to arriving at Newberry, LaHaye built the Grand Canyon wrestling program into a national powerhouse. In 2013, LaHaye had the nation's best wrestler in NCAA Division II Wrestler of the Year, Tyrell Fortune, who became the Antelopes fourth national champion in three seasons. GCU finished ninth in the team standings, its third straight top-10 finish. Mike Hamel earned NCAA II All-America status. LaHaye has coached 13 NCAA All-Americans. Along with the high marks on the mat, Kyle McCrite, who won a national title in 2012, was named the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Academic Wrestler of the Year.
In 2012, GCU had two national champions and finished third overall. Along with McCrite, Victor Carazo took the top spot at 174. Two other wrestlers, Bobby Ward and Celic Bell, earned All-America honors. The season also saw the team set a new school mark for dual meet victories with 19.
In its final four seasons in Division II, GCU compiled a 62-23 dual meet record. LaHaye also excelled as a recruiter at Grand Canyon, compiling a pair of top-five classes in 2011 and 2012.
The Antelopes finished seventh in the NCAA Division II championships in 2011, taking seven wrestlers to nationals that year, another program-best. The team also won the 2011 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference regular-season championship. The team finished 17-4 in duals -- second most wins in the nation -- and won the final 14 head-to-head battles.
LaHaye had a decorated wrestling career at Western State College in Gunnison, Colo. At Western State, he was a 2004 NCAA Division II All-American. He was also a three-time NCAA Academic All-American, three-time NCAA National Qualifier, three-time All-Rocky Mountain Athletic selection, as well as a Colorado Collegiate Champion. He was a member of the 2004 Western State squad that finished fourth in the nation.
Born and raised in Payson, Ariz., LaHaye wrestled for Payson High School under Hall of Fame coaches Dennis Pirch and Dave Lamotte. He was a three-time state champion and set a state record for career wins. LaHaye was a two-time High School All-American and team captain for three state championship teams.
LaHaye received a Bachelor of Arts in Business Adminstration from Western State College in 2005 and a Masters of Science in Leadership from Grand Canyon University in 2010.