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University of Chicago Department of Athletics & Recreation
Leo Kocher
Leo Kocher
Title: Head Wrestling Coach
Phone: 773-702-4641

Having developed a nationally-competitive wrestling program at the University of Chicago, Head Coach Leo Kocher embarks on his 42nd season in 2020-21.

During his tenure, Kocher has coached 28 All-Americans, including a pair of NCAA Division III champions, and has guided UChicago to four top-15 team finishes at the NCAA III Championships as well as 17 University Athletic Association team titles.

UChicago's Peter Wang captured the national title at 177 pounds in 1991 and again in 1992 when he was named the NCAA Division III Wrestler of the Year.

Two other Maroons, Joe Bochenski (1988 - 134 lbs.) and Gene Shin (1986 - 190 lbs.), finished as the national runner-up. Wang, Bochenski and Shin have all been inducted into UChicago's Athletics Hall of Fame.

Kocher's success and contributions have been recognized by numerous organizations. In July 2019, he was inducted into the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) Division III Hall of Fame. He received the UAA Founders Medal in February 2018, and was honored with a lifetime service award by the Illinois Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2013. The University also presented him with the Norman Maclean Faculty Award in 2015.

Prior to his arrival at UChicago, Kocher served a two-year stint as assistant coach at Northwestern University. Kocher began his coaching career as an assistant coach at Northern Illinois University.

In addition to his coaching experience, Kocher has been actively involved in collegiate wrestling as a member of the NCAA Wrestling Rules Committee. From 1990-96, he was a member of this 12-person committee which oversaw the rules of wrestling and the conduct of NCAA Wrestling Championships in Divisions I, II, and III.

Kocher enjoyed an outstanding competitive wrestling career. He competed at Northwestern where he co-captained the team his senior year. He was a two-time runner-up in the 158-pound weight class at the Midlands Tournament, and was a first alternate at 163 pounds for the U.S. World University Games Freestyle Team.

After his college career, Kocher earned distinction in national and international competition, winning the Montreal Open in 1974 and capturing second place in the 1974 U.S. Freestyle National Open. His other career highlights include a third-place finish at the 1973 U.S. Greco Roman National Open and a fourth-place effort at the 1976 AAU Freestyle National Open.

After earning a bachelor's degree in history from Northwestern, Kocher went on to receive a master's degree in education from NU. In 1987, he earned an MBA from UChicago's nationally-recognized Graduate School of Business.