IOWA CITY — Alex Kanellis did not have the job on his radar.
He was entrenched at Iowa City Regina, overseeing strength and conditioning for all athletics since 2010.
A chance meeting with Iowa head wrestling coach Tom Brands and assistant Ryan Morningstar turned his attention to the open strength and conditioning position on the Hawkeyes’ wrestling staff.
“When I thought about it, it just seemed perfect for me,” Kanellis said. “I really wanted to go for it. It kind of came out of nowhere.
“It’s funny. As soon as I settled in and felt like I could stay at Regina forever, and I loved every second of it (there), this just popped up and it ended up working out.”
Iowa announced Kanellis as the wrestling program’s new strength and conditioning coach Thursday, replacing Travis Rutt, who stepped down after the season, moving with his family to Minneapolis to pursue other professional opportunities, according to the news release from Iowa Sports Information Department.
“We identified an individual that understands and appreciates the value this position adds to our program, specifically our wrestlers,” said Brands. “Alex is an expert in his field, and he has learned from two men on campus that I respect tremendously, Kirk Ferentz and Chris Doyle. He knows what we need in our room and we’re glad he’s on our team.”
Kanellis grew up a Hawkeye wrestling and football fan, graduating from Iowa in 2009. He was a state champion right down the road at Iowa City West before becoming a two-time letterwinner (2005-06) for the Iowa football program in a career shortened by concussions.
“It’s something emotional to me to be a part of,” Kanellis said. “It means something to me. I feel like it (wrestling) is something we do here. I want to make sure we win. I’m pumped to be a part of it.
“I just love the competitive attitude of the whole staff.”
Kanellis earned a Master of Arts Degree in exercise science and health promotion, concentrating on performance enhancement and injury prevention. He earned certification with the National Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association and the National Academy of Sports Medicine.
Kanellis won the Class 3A 215-pound title in 2004 for the Trojans and Hall of Fame Coach Mark Reiland, who was an NCAA champion for the Hawkeyes. He was a two-time state medalist, placing sixth as a sophomore. His experience as a competitive wrestler will help to serve the Hawkeyes.
“It’s important to have someone who understands not only the basic movements but how taxing it can be on your body, how hard these guys train and how often they compete,” Kanellis said. “It needs to be handled intelligently.
“I plan to be a part of everything and being on the same page with Tom the whole time.”
Kanellis has handled numerous athletes in a variety of sports. He said he loved the time working with junior-high to college athletes. He is ready for a chance to work with a smaller group with similar skills and commitment levels.
“The level is higher,” Kanellis said. “The number of sports is down to one. I’m excited to just obsess about strength and conditioning as it relates to wrestling and I’ve got a bunch of ideas.”
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