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David Taylor Adds Kennedy and Gilman to Cowboy Wrestling Staff

STILLWATER – Oklahoma State head wrestling coach David Taylor has announced the addition of Jimmy Kennedy as associate head coach and Thomas Gilman as assistant coach for the Cowboy program.

Kennedy joins the staff after spending the past three seasons as an assistant at Penn State, where he was instrumental in the program’s immense success. The Nittany Lions captured the NCAA team title in all three of Kennedy’s seasons and never suffered a defeat in the regular season with a perfect dual record of 45-0. Kennedy also helped lead Penn State wrestlers to 11 individual NCAA championships and 22 All-America honors.

In his final season on the staff, Penn State ran away with the national team title after scoring 172.5 points, breaking the all-time NCAA record. PSU’s 100-point margin of victory was also an NCAA record as the team crowned four individual champions and eight All-Americans.

“Jimmy is a coach who wants everyone on his team,” Taylor said. “Not only does he interact with kids and put the hammer down, but he’s also someone who just really cares about the well-being of the athletes. He connects with people and has an energy in the room that makes everyone want to be better .”

Before his tenure at State College, Kennedy also spent time as an assistant coach at Northwestern, where he volunteered in 2019 before being promoted to a full-time role.

Kennedy has also carved out an impressive career as an athlete, first at Illinois from 2007-2011 and then on the international stage. For the Fighting Illini, Kennedy was a three-time All-American, reaching the podium in 2008, 2009 and 2011, the first two weighing in at 133 pounds and the last at 141. He was only the twelfth three-time All-American in program history and finished his collegiate career with a record of 119-24.

Topping Kennedy’s long list of freestyle accolades was an appearance at the 2014 World Championships while representing the United States. Kennedy wrestled at 61kg and won the USA World Team Trials. Later that summer he represented his country in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. He finished second at the 2013 and 2017 trials and was champion at the 2016 US Open. His other achievements include victories at the 2017 Paris International, 2014 Yasar Dogu, the 2013 Intercontinental Cup, the 2012 and 2013 Guelph Open and the New York Athletic Club International 2012.

Kennedy began his wrestling career at Grant Community High School in Fox Lake, Illinois and reached the state finals in all four seasons with wins as a sophomore and senior. In Kennedy’s senior year in 2006, he broke the state record for takedowns in a season with 384 and was named Illinois’ recipient of the Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award. He won a national cadet championship his sophomore year and finished his career with a record of 187-3.

Over the past 15 years, Gilman has achieved tremendous success at every level of the sport and now joins the Cowboy staff in the first official coaching role of his career. Most recently, Gilman was part of the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club alongside Taylor while training for world-level competition.

“Thomas is one of those people who uplifts others around him,” Taylor said. “I can’t wait to see him grow in his role as coach. I know he will engage these kids and be a great leader for this program.”

As an athlete at Iowa from 2013 to 2017, Gilman was a key part of the Hawkeye lineup as he consistently delivered deep runs during the NCAA Championships. He finished his career with an impressive 100-9 record, including an 84.5 percent bonus percentage in his three seasons as a full-time starter. In both his junior and senior seasons, Gilman entered the postseason with an undefeated record before eventually finishing second at the NCAA Championships as a junior.

Overall, Gilman was a three-time All-American for the Hawkeyes and finished third or better at the Big Ten Championships in each of his last three seasons.

After retiring from collegiate wrestling in 2017, Gilman immediately launched a successful career on the freestyle circuit, representing the United States at world level five times in six years and capturing four medals.

The first of those four medals came in August 2017, just months after his last appearance for the Hawkeyes. Gilman romped through the United States World Team Trials to clinch a spot at the World Championships later that summer, where he won 4-1 before falling to Japan’s Yuki Takahashi in the final to take home a silver medal took. The following summer, Gilman took bronze at the Pan American Championships and represented his country at the World Championships for the second year in a row with a fifth-place finish in Budapest.

After falling just short of the World Team in 2019, Gilman made another breakthrough with a sweep at the 2020 Olympic Team Trials to secure his spot at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which took place in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic . In Tokyo, Gilman dropped his first match but responded with a technical fall over Uzbekistan’s Gulomjon Abdullaev and a 9–1 win over Iran’s Reza Atri to take the bronze medal. The placement marked Gilman’s first Olympic medal and the second of four medals on the world stage.

Another highlight of Gilman’s career came the following year, when he won gold at the 2021 World Championships, the first American to achieve the feat at 57 kg.

Gilman returned to the World Championships in 2022, where he finished second for the second time in his career and represented the United States for the fifth time in six years. He also added a gold medal at the Pan American Championships that summer, as well as in 2023.

Gilman, a graduate of Skutt Catholic High School in Omaha, Neb., was the 20th four-time state champion in Nebraska history. Gilman’s efforts were critical to the team’s three titles and one second-place finish throughout his career. He also added national freestyle titles at the cadet and junior levels in 2010 and 2011, respectively.