Interview with second-year assistant coach Jarrod Garnett
Previous School: Lehigh University
Jarrod Garnett arrived in Fargo with more wrestling accomplishments than any wrestler to step on the mat during the Division I era at NDSU. During his time at Virginia Tech, Garnett won ACC Rookie of the Year, was a three-time ACC champion at 125 pounds, placing second his freshman year, finished sixth in the country in 2013 earning himself an All-American title and he finished with 126 career wins, which ties him for third-most in Hokie school history.
Garnett went to Bucknell after graduation in 2013 to be an assistant coach. He then spent a season as a volunteer assistant at Lehigh University before making it to Fargo.
Entering his second season at NDSU, Garnett’s main focus is with the lighter wrestlers, around the 125, 133 and 141-range. He’s also helping 125-pounder Josh Rodriguez become one of the top wrestlers in his weight class.
Bison Illustrated: How did you get the job at North Dakota State before last season?
Jarrod Garnett: I actually got ahold of (Roger) Kish myself when I was competing at Virginia Tech back in college. I was familiar with a lot of the North Dakota State guys. NDSU’s (Hayden) Zillmer, (Steven) Monk, (Josh) Rodriguez, just seeing them around at events and seeing their success and how tough a lot of the guys were. For me, I kind of took notice of what type of team that Roger had here, and eventually, when I got into coaching and I was at Lehigh, and I was looking to make a move and do something a little different, I got ahold of him and lucky enough for me, Coach (Manny) Rivera had been familiar with me just from coaching at UVA (Virginia), and our rivalry there. So when my name came across the system over here, I think Manny put in a pretty good word for me and got Roger really interested.
BI: How did you sell yourself to Roger that you were the guy for the job?
JG: For me, it was preaching a lot of the youth factor. I’m able to get on the mat every single day with the guys and be that lightweight coach that they haven’t really had in the past. I think my youth and me being able to get on the mat to go along with my social media experience. I’m a guy that’s very in tuned with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and SnapChat, and that type of stuff. I know that’s a lot of things fans enjoy and pay attention to at least one of those four. I think that’s a lot of what I bring as well. Just a lot of different ideas on how to market the program, which is something I spent a lot of time doing in my days at Bucknell and Lehigh so that was another major piece. Ultimately, it was my on-the- mat success and experience. Wrestling for a guy like Kevin Dresser who was a national champion for Iowa, a lot of what I do is modeled after what he did with us. When I committed to wrestle at Virginia Tech, I think we were 45th in the country the year prior and now, fast-forward eight years later, he’s built a Top 4 program.
BI: When it’s all said and done, what are you hoping to take away from your time in Fargo?
JG: I see this time being at North Dakota State, no matter how long it may be and I could foresee it being quite a long time. These are my growing years, having three years of coaching experience under my belt already, and obviously drawing my experience as an athlete, this is where I’m going to not only find out about myself and what type of coach I am, but I get to be a part of a program that’s young and having a major hand in building something. And seeing the fruits of your labor pay off down the road, much like it did in my time as an athlete, watching that system and how it happens, I hope to takeaway and learn everything I need here at North Dakota State to be a head coach down the road.
BI: You’re focusing on the lighter weight wrestlers. What did you think of Josh Rodriguez when you came in?
JG: Josh reminds me of myself just because what made me take a look at him was, I was a guy that was always right there, on the cusp, every single year of getting it done and it took me until my senior year to finally break through and Josh has been the exact same way. He’s very talented, very athletic, very strong for his size and very technical. He gets after it.