EMAIL Coach Ayres at cayres@Princeton.EDU
Chris Ayres was no stranger to EIWA individual or team success when he was hired as the head coach of Princeton wrestling during the spring of 2006. He was a stranger to the kind of dormant program Princeton had become, and he has been determined to change that over his first seven seasons at Princeton.
While he was able to see the smaller changes in the first two years, he wanted everybody to know Princeton was on the rise.
Over the last few seasons, the nation has taken notice.
Over the last five seasons, Princeton has placed 19 times at the EIWA Championships, while it had only placed a combined four times in the six seasons prior. The Tigers have also sent six wrestlers to the NCAA Championships, including three-time qualifier Garrett Frey '14 and Abram Ayala, who made his NCAA Championships debut last season.
His most recent season was one of Princeton's most successful in decades. Princeton went 11-4, meaning it had both double-digit wins and fewer than five losses for the first time since the 1980-81 season; it also shared second place in the Ivy League. Five Tigers placed at the EIWA Championships, including four underclassmen, and each will return next season.
Princeton also earned its first ever team win over Binghamton, its first over Hofstra since 1989 and a dramatic comeback win over Boston University, when the Tigers scored 20 points in the final four matches to clinch a 23-20 win. They also earned road wins over both Harvard and Brown, as well as another comeback home win over Columbia.
Princeton served as host for the 2012 EIWA Championships, a testament to the credibility Ayres has brought back to the program. He has also brought in some high-level assistant coaches; he welcomed former Boston University assistant Sean Gray prior to the 2011-12 season, and he will be joined by two-time NCAA champion Joe Dubuque for the 2012-13 season.
Ayres, who spent 2001-2006 as an assistant coach at Lehigh University, became the 10th head coach of Princeton wrestling in the summer of 2006.
A former EIWA champion and two-time recipient of Lehigh's "Outstanding Athlete" honor during his undergraduate career at Lehigh, Ayres joined the coaching staff in June 2001. During his tenure, the Mountain Hawks claimed five straight EIWA team championships and produced 12 All-Americas and two national champions. Ayres worked specifically with five of the All-Americas in all aspects of training.
Ayres came to the Lehigh wrestling program as an undergraduate walk-on, but ended his career among the best in Mountain Hawk history. While at Lehigh, Ayres established a new school record with 120 career victories, and in 1998 he amassed the most wins in a single season for a Lehigh wrestler with 39. He won the 150-pound EIWA championship as a junior and earned All-America honors at 157 pounds as the NCAA sixth-place finisher during his senior season. Over his four-year career, he never missed a dual match. In the summer of 2001, Ayres placed fourth in the U.S. Senior Open Nationals and fourth at the U.S. World Team Trials. He also finished fifth at the 2002 Team Trials.
Prior to wrestling for Lehigh, Ayres wrestled at Newton High School and Blair Academy in New Jersey, where he won 69 bouts. In his senior season Ayres was a District Champion and a regional runner-up at 135 pounds. With a model work ethic, Ayres was the first Lehigh Wrestler in 38 years to become an All-American without earning a medal at the state championship level.
He earned his undergraduate degree in marketing and earned his master’s in elementary education at Lehigh in 2001. Ayres and his wife Lori have a daughter Chloe and a son Atticus.