Observer staff

Michael Ayala has spent the last two seasons coaching with the University of Providence wrestling team in Great Falls, Montana. He will take over as the head coach of the Eastern Oregon University wrestling program, the school announced Monday.

“Through the interview process, it was clear to see that not only will Michael’s ties to the Pacific Northwest be beneficial to him leading our program, but Michael is dedicated and excited to be part of growing the sport of women’s wrestling,” EOU Athletic Director Anji Weissenfluh said in a press release. “His ability to connect with student-athletes and to identify quality prospects are some of (the qualities) we believe will help him find success at EOU.”

Ayala has coached with both the Argos’ men’s and women’s programs in various roles the last two seasons, most recently as an assistant coach to both programs. According to the press release, Ayala is a USA Wrestling Bronze certified coach and has ample experience in freestyle wrestling, the format used in women’s collegiate wrestling.

“I’m very honored to coach a group of hardworking women,” Ayala said in the press release. “I really like the team chemistry and (that) every athlete here wants to get better. I’m excited to get to help these student-athletes reach their goals on and off the mat. We want to be competitive and excel at all levels, and we strive to be the best in the classroom, community, and on the mat.”

He takes over a women’s program that just completed its third season of competition. The Mountaineers finished 19th at the WCWA National Championships in February and have landed three WCWA all-Americans in their three years.