When Aghasi Manukyan suddenly stepped down as assistant coach of the Northern Michigan-Olympic Training Site program, rumors immediately began to swirl as to who would replace him. Several names circulated right away, but none more so than two-time World bronze medalist and 2016 Olympian Andy Bisek (Minnesota Storm). Bisek, who came of age during his time at NMU, is widely-respected throughout US Greco Roman wrestling for more than just his accomplishments. The 30 year old has become an in-demand clinician around the country and is lauded by his teammates at the Olympic Training Center for his willingness to share his insights on technique, approach, and competition. Therefore, him being offered the opportunity at NMU made all the sense in the world.
Though it was not discussed publicly, Bisek filling in for NMU head coach Rob Hermann last month was presumed to be a step towards him reaching a decision. That decision has finally come to light. Beginning next month, Andy Bisek officially takes the reigns at Northern as the head assistant coach, where the next phase of his career will begin in earnest. And not surprisingly, his recent experience in Marquette did factor in the process.
“Being up there for those two weeks and seeing those guys respond to me in that short of time was definitely positive and reassuring that this decision was the right one to make,” Bisek says.
The room at Northern is not bereft of talent by any means. Multiple Junior and University World Team members call the program home, including Senior National Team member and two-time World Team Trials runner-up Alex Sancho. Others are just starting to tap into their potential. But the way Bisek sees it, there is certainly room for growth.
“They have got some young guys who have been on teams and hopefully we can get more to be on Junior and University World teams,” he says. “But the guys who have already been there need to start thinking towards more, and I want to help them move in that direction.”
Those around the sport fondly remember the period in which Bisek attended Northern. Often referred to as the “golden era” of the program, stars like Spenser Mango, Joe Betterman, Adam Wheeler, and Harry Lester blossomed under then-head coach Ivan Ivanov. World teams, Olympic teams, world medalists…the USOEC (as it was known then) every bit rivaled the older and more established group at the OTC in Colorado Springs on the national stage. Bisek is determined to assist the program in reaching that level once again.
“Training there under Ivan, we had a lot of success and if I could get anywhere close to that level, then that’s the idea. I want to be working towards that because his time there really set the bar high. During the time I am up there, hopefully we can have another era just like that.”