By Libby Rosequist
Longtime Mercyhurst North East assistant wrestling coach Jack Locke has been elected to the 2020 Class of the NJCAA National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Locke will receive the honor at the NJCAA National Tournament on March 7, in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Locke’s dedication to his athletes and the sport of wrestling is unmatched. Locke has been the assistant coach for the Mercyhurst North East wrestling program for 19 years and will finish his last year of coaching with Mercyhurst North East from the beginning of the program to the end.
During his time at Mercyhurst North East, Locke has guided 126 NJCAA individual national qualifiers and 12 All-Americans.
“Jack is known for his strong demeanor and gentle heart,” Aaron Cooper, Mercyhurst North East head wrestling coach said. “He creates a strong relationship with his athletes that carries both on and off the mat and has spent countless hours with little to no pay, for the betterment of the sport and the athlete.”
It is this display of dedication that allowed Locke to be elected into the NJCAA Region III Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2012.
“Coaching is a privilege, I am able to watch and help these young athletes overcome adversity,” Locke said. “Being in their corner, you become family and I am so proud of them. I am still in contact with my past wrestlers and we all support each other through our milestones in life.”
Born into a wrestling family, Locke began wrestling at a young age in North East.
He would go on to compete for North East High School where he was 115-28, a three-time state qualifier and a Pennsylvania state placer in 1992.
Locke began his coaching career shortly afterwards, starting at the youth level with the North East Little Wrestlers. He remained there until 2001 when he was hired as the assistant coach for Mercyhurst University North East, a new NJCAA program.
“I am proud to say I coach in my hometown and I was able to be part of a program at Mercyhurst North East that continued wrestling careers into the college level,” Locke said. “I don’t believe we coach to get an award, it’s all about the youth and how we can support them, but I feel honored to receive this recognition and proud of all of the hard work my wrestlers have put in over the years.”
In the past 19 years, Locke has guided over 400 NJCAA athletes to become better wrestlers, and more importantly, better individuals.