South Dakota State University wrestling coach Jason Liles enters his 17th season for the Jackrabbits, his first since becoming the all-time wins leader at the university with a record of 141-110-3.
Liles overtook the late Warren Williamson, who compiled a 134-74-9 dual record over 16 seasons from 1957-68 and 1970-73. Overall, Liles holds a career record of 230-138-4 over a decorated 25 seasons.
Starting with the 2004-05 season, the Jackrabbits competed at the NCAA Division I level. SDSU wrestled as an independent the first two seasons in the D-I ranks, then joined seven other schools in forming the Western Wrestling Conference in time for the 2006-07 season.
SDSU completed a fast-tracked transition to Division I prior to the 2006-07 season, making the Jackrabbits eligible for postseason consideration. Under Liles' guidance, redshirt freshman Ryan Meyer became the first SDSU wrestler in the D-I era to qualify for the national meet following a runner-up effort in the 165-pound weight class at the 2007 West Regional. In 2009, Tyler Sorenson represented the Jacks at the national tournament after a second-place finish at the West Regional. Sorenson was hampered by injury to start the season but bounced back to a 14-4 record, with all loses to wrestlers at the national meet.
As a team, the Jackrabbits placed fifth at the 2007 and 2009 West Regional and sixth in 2008.
Liles led SDSU to a winning dual record nine times, including a streak of eight consecutive winning seasons from 1996-2003. As part of that streak, the Jackrabbits tied a school record with 17 dual victories during the 1997-98 season. SDSU won the National Wrestling Coaches Association National Duals that season and repeated the feat during the 1999-2000 season.
In 1993-94, Liles took over the South Dakota State wrestling program and guided the Jackrabbits to a fourth-place finish in the NCAA Division II tournament. That marked the highest national finish for the Jackrabbits in 25 years and was the first time that SDSU had two individual national champions - Chad Lamer at 177 and Justin Blasius at 190 - in the same season.
In each of his first 10 seasons, Liles led the Jackrabbits to a top-10 finish at the NCAA Division II Championships, including nine straight top-five finishes. SDSU placed second at nationals twice (1998, 2001), third once (2001), fourth four times (1994,1996, 1997, 2000) and fifth two times (1995, 1999). He also led SDSU to a North Central Conference team title in 1997 - its first in 17 years.
Liles was named Division II Wrestling Coach of the Year during the 2000-01 season, one in which the Jackrabbits posted a 9-5-1 dual record and came within a victory of claiming the first team national championship in school history.
By the time SDSU completed its run as a member of the North Central Conference and NCAA Division II at the close of the 2003-04 season, the SDSU wrestling program had produced 46 All-Americans, 11 national champions and 36 NWCA All-Academic Team selections during Liles' tenure.
Liles came to SDSU in 1993 after a nine-year stay at Montana State University-Northern, in Havre, where he led his squads to NAIA national championships in 1991 and 1992. Liles was inducted into the MSU-Northern Athletic Hall of Fame during the fall of 2003.
His teams at MSU-N won NAIA District-12 championships in 1988, 1990, 1991 and 1992. During his career at MSU-N Liles posted a dual record of 89-33, coached six individual national champions (including the Outstanding Wrestler at the 1990 national tournament), and produced 48 All-Americans.
His teams produced eight academic All-Americans, with the team showing a 3.00 cumulative grade point average from 1987-1993. Prior to joining the staff at MSU-N, Liles was assistant wrestling coach at Miami University in Ohio (1981-84).
He then moved on to Miami University (Ohio), where he served as an assistant coach while working toward the master's degree he received in 1982. At Miami, Liles played an integral part in developing three NCAA Division I All-Americans. Miami won the Mid-America Conference title in 1984 and had an alternate to the 1984 USA Olympic Freestyle team.
Liles got his start in coaching at the high school level in his native state of Ohio. In two seasons at Arcadia High School, he produced back-to-back Blanchard Valley Conference championships in 1980 and 1981, when his teams combined for a 20-6 dual record.
A 1979 graduate of Bowling Green State University in Ohio, Liles ended his career as the winningest wrestler in the university's history. A four-year starter, he was chosen the team's most valuable wrestler his last three seasons (1977-79).
Liles and his wife Holly reside in Brookings. They have two sons - Walker and Hunter.