Former high school coach and core influence on both Ben and Max’s careers, Coach John Mesenbrink possesses not only the ability to coach the best of the best with his 20 years of experience, but has also had significant and notable understanding of the sport as both a collegiate athlete and freestyle wrestler himself.
In addition to gaining leadership abilities as team captain at both St. Louis Community College and Drake University, Mesenbrink was a NJCAA National Qualifier in both 1988 and 1989, as well as an NCAA Division I National Qualifier in 1991, and alternate in 1992. Simultaneously, he was an Academic All-American in ’88 and ’89, and became a member of the National Wrestling Coaches Association Academic All-American Team in 1992.
Mesenbrink’s freestyle experience proves to be just as impressive. This aspect of his career began as a member of the U.S. Junior College National Team (Yugoslavia & Austria) in 1989, and flourished from there. While placing 3rd (‘02 ), 4th (‘97 ), and 5th (‘96 ), in the Northern Plains Senior Regional’s, Mesenbrink also competed in the U.S. Senior National Freestyle Championships in 1994, 1996, 1997, and 2002. Additionally, he became the U.S. Veterans Freestyle National Champion in 2004. Mesenbrink’s eclectic combination of distinct and rare experience, knowledge, leadership, and skill allowed for the development of a coaching style that both Ben and Max excelled in and expanded upon for the AWA.
John Mesenbrink spent a total of 19 years as a high school head coach in Wisconsin and Iowa. During that time, he influenced and inspired eight NCAA Division I competitors, three NCAA Division II competitors, seven NCAA Division III competitors, and two NJCCA competitors. Additionally, he had 87 state qualifiers, 44 state place winners, 8 runners-up, and 12 champions, 3 of who were All-Americans, and one, a runner up within Senior Folkstyle Nationals. Mesenbrink lead 8 teams to Conference Championships, and had Wisconsin State Team qualifiers in ’97, ’04 – ’08 and ’11. Three of those years his teams were semi-finalists (’04, ’06, ’08) and in 2005 and 2011, they were State Runner-up.
Besides his folkstyle experience, Mesenbrink’s freestyle instruction has taken him across the country in the past decade, coaching at the U.S. Olympic Team Training Camp in both Colorado Springs, CO (’08) and Phoenix, AZ (’08), in addition to attending the World Team Trials, and the United States Olympic Team Trials. Locally, John Mesenbrink has been a Wisconsin Regional Training Center Coach (2001-2006), a Wisconsin Junior National Team Coach (‘99 – ‘07, ’09 – ‘11), and a Wisconsin Junior National Duals Team Coach (’00 – ‘07). Furthermore, he has coached 11 Junior National All-Americans, and one Junior National Champion in freestyle.
Mesenbrink’s expansive understanding of multiple styles of wrestling proves to be the perfect balance for teaching the AWA’s philosophy of “total wrestling”, while his experience gives him unwavering knowledge to combat an infinite number of trials and tribulations that developing wrestlers face.
- National Coaches Education Program: Gold Level Certification (USA Wrestling) April, 2006
- Master of Science Degree in Exercise Science & Health Promotion, emphasis in Sports Psychology
- Master of Science Degree in Curriculum & Instruction, emphasis in Technology Enhanced Instruction
- National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) Central Sectional Coach of the Year (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan & Wisconsin) 2010-2011
- National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) Wisconsin State Coach of the Year 2010-2011
- National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) Wisconsin State Coach of the Year 2010-2011
- Wisconsin Wrestling Coaches Association State Coach of the Year 2011
- Wisconsin District 6 Coach of the Year 2004, 2008, 2011
- Wisconsin District 7 Coach of the Year 1997
- Journal Sentinel’s Milwaukee-area Coach of the Year 2004, 2005, 2008, 2011
- Wisconsin Wrestling Coaches Association District Representative 2003
- National Coaches Education Program Bronze Clinic Instructor 2004, 2005