Get to know Coach Ester
Head Coach Mike Ester returns for his second season at the helm of the Indiana Tech wrestling program after an impressive inaugural season in 2011.
Under the direction of Ester, the Warriors finished the season ranked 17th in the final NAIA Wrestling Coaches' Top 20 Poll and placed 16th at the NAIA National Championships. Tech qualified 11 wrestlers to the championships and placed two on the All-American podium.
In addition to all the success on the mat, the Warrior wrestling team also excelled in the classroom. Tech received NAIA/NWCA All-Academic Team honors by having a team grade point average of 3.34, the second best GPA in the nation. Six wrestlers were also recognized for their hard work as NAIA/NWCA All-Academic Individuals for having qualified for the national tournament and having at least a 3.25 GPA or being an All-American with a 3.0 GPA.
From 2006 to 2010, Ester was the head assistant coach at Trine University which was only in its second year of competition when he arrived. His responsibilities included planning and running practices, technique development, strength and conditioning development and recruiting.
Ester had the pleasure of helping the program grow to national prominence, eventually landing the program as high as #16 ranking
in the NWCA DIII polls with as many as seven nationally ranked wrestlers at one time. Trine had two NCAA Midwest Regional team
runner-up finishes, and one NCAA qualifier.
From 1998 to 2006, Ester led his alma mater Snider Panthers to eight SAC conference titles, eight IHSAA sectional titles, one team regional championship, one team semi-state championship, and 2002-2003 team state finalists. In his tenure at Snider there were 26 individual state finalists, 18 of which were medalists, three IHSAA State Champions, and one IHSAA Mental Attitude Award
winner. Ester’s teams produced six IHSAA Academic All-State wrestlers while adding five other honorable mentions as well.
"It is an honor and privilege to have this opportunity to start a wrestling program here," Ester said. "My family and I feel blessed! Indiana Tech has committed leadership from the very top down who are dedicated to the success of their student-athletes. I’m excited to be a part of the Warrior athletic family and intend to represent the program with class and success as has been modeled by the other coaches and athletes here. Our mission will be to use this program as a mechanism to produce roductive members of our society who are accomplished not only as athletes, but as scholar’s and citizens as well."
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Gralan is entering his second season as a member of the Warrior wrestling staff.
Gralan is a Fort Wayne native wrestler and graduate of North Side High School (’03). During his high school campaign he placed 4th, 2nd and 1st and culminated his high school career with an impressive All-American status by placing 7th in the country as a senior. These accomplishments placed him among the top lightweight recruits in the country; accompanied by many more awards this landed him a scholarship at Northern Illinois University.
During his college career he broke the line up as a true freshman and competed for the Huskies his first season. Four years, wrestling training, and competing alongside a list of All-Americans and national qualifiers, as well having (Olympian) Joe Williams as a coach, is where he gained valuable wrestling experience, and a sound coaching philosophy.
In a span of four years, Gralan has dedicated his time to give back to the community by co-founding the first YMCA wrestling program in Fort Wayne. This wrestling program is designed to teach fundamentals of wrestling to build character and core values in young men and women who participate. Gralan was an assistant coach at Snider High School the 2010-2011 season, where he was a vital part in the program’s success and helped the Panthers claim their first IHSAA Sectional title in five years. Currently he is employed at Fort Wayne Community Schools Teaching music production at Miami Middle School.
Graduate Assistant Coach
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A native of Fishers, Indiana, Thomas graduated from Hamilton Southeastern High School in 2006. He was a state medalist for the Royals in 2006. After graduating he pursued wrestling at the collegiate level for Trine University, where he earned his bachelor degree in Elementary Education. While at Trine, Thomas wrestled under Coach Ester. During his college career he was a four-time varsity starter and letter winner for the Thunder, along with being an Academic All-American in 2010.
In 2011, Thomas was the assistant coach at Prairie Heights High School (LaGrange, Indiana), where he helped coach the Panthers to a conference and sectional team championship. Thomas also helped coach two Panther wrestlers to earn All-State honors.
Since 2007, Thomas has helped out through the Indiana State Wrestling Association by volunteering to help coach for Team Indiana on national wrestling trips across the country. He has been a part of the coaching staff for the Indiana Folkstyle, Freestyle, and Greco-Roman Cadet/Junior National Teams.
Currently Thomas is a full time employee with Fort Wayne Community Schools. He teaches 5th grade at a local elementary school in Fort Wayne. He is also completing his Masters in Business Administration at Indiana Tech.