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Pantaleo Joins Wrestling Coaching Staff
"We are very excited to have someone of Coach Pantaleo's background and experience become a part of the Liberty wrestling program," commented Castro. "He is a former world class wrestler himself, and he coached at the highest level of collegiate wrestling during his time at Iowa and Michigan State.
"We expect Coach Pantaleo to help raise the level of intensity in the practice room, and to greatly benefit our wrestlers through his focus on individual workouts. This is an important step in our effort to build a Top 25 wrestling program at Liberty."
Pantaleo brings with him a vast array of top level collegiate experience, including stints at storied wrestling programs like Iowa, Michigan and Michigan State.
Pantaleo was a two-time NCAA All-American at Michigan, where the 158-pounder finished second at nationals in 1988 and 1989. As a team, Michigan captured the Big 10 team title during Pantaleo's junior season (1987-88), while the Wolverines finished fifth at nationals during his senior campaign after a 20-2 season and an unblemished 12-0 mark in conference action.
The two-time Big 10 runner-up completed his bachelor of science degree in physical education from Michigan in 1989. After graduation, Pantaleo remained with the Wolverine program as a graduate assistant for two years (1990-91), where he helped Michigan to a pair of Top 30 finishes at the national championship and a Big 10 team title in 1991.
Following his days at Michigan, Pantaleo continued his graduate work at Iowa, where he coached under the tutelage of legendary wrestling coach Dan Gable. In 1992, the Hawkeyes finished the year undefeated at 16-0-0 and won their third-straight NCAA team national championship.
Pantaleo got his first full-time coaching position at Michigan State, coaching with the Spartans for five years (1992-97). During his time at Michigan State, he helped the program improve from a 63rd-place finish at nationals in 1992 to a fifth-place ranking in 1995. Four out of his five years at the Big 10 school the squad finished in the Top 10 at the national title event.
From 1998 to 2006, Pantaleo served as the head wrestling coach at Grosse Pointe High School in Grosse Point, Mich., before returning to Michigan as a volunteer assistant coach, while pursuing other business interests.
"I am really excited to be joining Coach Castro's staff and Liberty University," commented Pantaleo. "This is a young and upcoming program with great support, and I am looking forward to working with this team. I believe that my experience can be used to have a positive impact on the young men on and off the mat."
Pantaleo, who was a 1987 Junior World Champion and two-time Olympic alternate at 149.5 pounds (1992 and 1996), is the uncle of current Flames wrestler Joe Pantaleo. The 125-pounder was 11-7 during his first collegiate season before suffering an injury during mid-January that sidelined him for the remainder of his rookie campaign.