By CSU Bakersfield Sports Information
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Former Bakersfield wrestling coach TJ Kerr has passed away. Kerr was 64.
“Today is a sad day for the CSUB wrestling program as we mourn the loss of Coach Kerr,” said current Roadrunners head coach Mike Mendoza, a former wrestler and assistant coach at Bakersfield for Kerr.
“He was such a big part of this program and had a huge impact on so many lives. Coach Kerr was a big influence in my life and in the lives of the many wrestlers he coached at San Jose State and here at CSUB. He was demanding, pointed, and was not shy about telling it how he saw it. He wanted to get the most out of every one of his guys and that sometimes resulted in hurting feelings. But I along with many of his wrestlers respected him for that quality.”
Kerr spent 26 years as the ‘Runners head coach. He was a three-time Pac-10 Coach of the Year, winning the award in 1996 when the Roadrunners won their first Pac-10 title. That honor was sandwiched by awards in 1991 and 1997, years in which CSUB placed second in the conference. In addition, Kerr was honored in 2005 by being inducted into the California Wrestling Hall of Fame and in 2007, was named the Amateur Wrestling News Man of the Year.
Kerr led the Roadrunners to a second Pac-10 title in 1999. Since joining the conference in 1988, CSUB has finished in the top three of the Pac-10 on nine different occasions. Since moving the ‘Runners up to Division I in 1988, Kerr led CSUB to a 236-142-4 (.624) dual meet record and seven top-12 finishes at the NCAA Division I Championships.
The pinnacle of his success came in 1996 when the Roadrunners placed third at the NCAA Division I Championships behind Iowa and Iowa State. That achievement, coupled with a Pac-10 title in the same year, earned Kerr National Wrestling Coach of the Year honors from the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA).
Before the move to Division I, Kerr coached Bakersfield for three seasons at the Division II level. During that time, the Roadrunners won three Division II West Regional titles and were national champions in 1987. In each of CSUB’s three seasons in Division II under Kerr, the Roadrunners finished no lower than seventh place. Kerr was also named the Division II Coach of the Year in 1987, the same season that Darryl Pope was named Outstanding Wrestler.
Kerr coached at his alma mater, San Jose State, for 12 seasons before coming to CSUB. In that time, the Spartans won 10 Pacific Coast Athletic Association titles and finished second in the other two years. For his dominating efforts at SJSU, Kerr won PCAA Coach of the Year honors seven times. The high point for Kerr in his tenure at San Jose State came in 1982 when the Spartans not only won the PCAA title, but also placed ninth at the NCAA Division I Championships, their highest finish with Kerr at the helm. In 2008, Kerr was inducted into the Spartan Athletic Hall of Fame.
Kerr was awarded with the highest honor in wrestling in the state of California in 2005 when he was inducted into the California Wrestling Hall of Fame. That honor follows his earlier hall of fame induction in 1999 when he was inducted into the Bob Elias Kern County Sports Hall of Fame.
T.J. KERR’S HIGHLIGHTS
• 236-142-4 (.624) dual meet record in 26 years
• Pac-10 conference champions in 1996 and 1999
• 11 top-25 national finishes
• Five top-10 national finishes
• Third-place NCAA_Division I finish in 1996
• 10 top-three finishes in the Pac-10 (20 years)
• 2007 Amateur Wrestling News Man of the Year
• 1996 NWCA Coach of the Year
• Three-time Pac-10 Coach of the Year (1991, 1996, 1997)
• 1987 NCAA Division II National Championship
• Three NCAA Division I champions
• Six NCAA Division II champions
• 29 NCAA Division I All-Americans
• 17 NCAA Division II All-Americans
• 29 Pac-10 champions
• 166 Pac-10 placewinners
• Five Olympians
• One World champion
• Five World Championships qualifiers
• Three World Championship placewinners
• Five USA National freestyle champions
• One USA National Greco-Roman champion
• Three Pan-Am Games freestyle champions
• One Pan-Am Games Greco-Roman champion