Boilermakers set to take on Northern Illinois and Ashland Sunday.
Former Boilermaker standout Chris Fleeger is in his second season as an assistant coach. Fleeger was a three-time All-American for Purdue and most recently was the head coach at Darton College in Albany, Ga.
"It's exciting to bring one of your own back," said Purdue wrestling head coach Hinkel. "You can't put a price tag on someone who wants to be here, and Chris really wants to be here. It's not a job for him, it's a passion, it's an opportunity and it's a chance for him to come home. This is where he wants to be."
Hinkel continued, "Chris can help us take the program somewhere it hasn't been in a really long time. He did it as an athlete, and now he has the chance to do it as a coach."
Fleeger competed for the Boilermakers from 2002 to 2006 and is one of three wrestlers in school history to earn All-America honors three times. He placed third at the national championships at 125 pounds as a freshman in 2002, was the NCAA runner-up at 125 pounds in 2003, and took home second place at the 2006 NCAA Championships at 133 pounds. He was named the Big Ten Wrestler of the Championships in 2003 after capturing the conference title at 125 pounds, putting together the second-best single-season record in school history (32-1). Fleeger still owns the second-best winning percentage in Purdue history (.905/86-9), and he also owns spots on the career record lists for falls and back points.
His success on the mat is not limited to his time as a Boilermaker, as Fleeger had several impressive showings on the international scene. He earned bronze medals at the 2002 World University Wrestling Championships in Edmonton, Alberta, and at the 2001 Pan American Championships, and won the 60 kg/132 lb. weight class at the 2006 Sunkist Kids Arizona State International Open in Tempe, Ariz.
"It's always been a dream of mine to coach at Purdue and to coach alongside Coach Hinkel, and now I get to live that dream," said Fleeger. "I'm excited about the potential that we have on our team at Purdue, and I can't wait to get back in there with some of the guys I've worked with in the past, as well as get to know the rest of the team. We have great things in store."
Fleeger has had coaching stints at Purdue and Darton, mentoring a combined three All-Americans. As a volunteer assistant at Purdue, he helped rising junior Cashé Quiroga to become just the third true freshman in Purdue history to earn All-America honors, placing sixth at 125 pounds in 2010. He also worked with 2009 Boilermaker All-American Jake Patacsil, who took fifth place at 149 pounds and rewrote the Purdue back point record books. As the head coach at Darton, Fleeger was named the NJCAA Eastern District "Man of the Year" after leading six Cavalier wrestlers to the NJCAA Wrestling Championships in 2012. Under Fleeger's guidance, sophomore Trey Hicks earned All-America honors with an eighth-place finish at 184 pounds, becoming just the second national honoree in Darton history.