About Coach MacKay

Jeff MacKay started his wrestling career as a Wildcat at Newark Senior High School in 1978-1980. ( Jeff Ciminello class of 1980)


In 1980-81 he was recruited to wrestle for Lassen Community College in CA, and also started his Freestyle and Greco career. 


In 1982 he moved to San Francisco to attend SFSU and to be trained by the Greco Roman World Team Coach, Lee Allen. Over the next 4 years, he obtained his BA and his MA degrees in Psychology and studied Peak Performance and Sports Psychology, and was a member of the Gators wrestling team.


Coach MacKay competed in Freestyle and Greco- Roman Wrestling on both the national and international levels, and has won two State Championships, two Junior Olympic State Championships, four National titles, has been a National Championship runner up twice, and alternate on  two Pan American Teams, two Junior World Teams and one World  University Team. 


He also competed in the Los Angeles Olympic Trials winning the Southwest Region. In 1985, Coach MacKay placed 3rd in the world at the Grand Prix XII Greco- Roman International. He then retired from competition.


In 1987 he started and coached  the Golden Gate Womens Wrestling Club, the first recognized US Women's Freestyle wrestling team. In less than a year they had 3 women win medals at the Women's Freestyle World Championships. (Sidebar: this was at a time when USAW did not yet recognize women's wrestling. Coach MacKay was a strong Advocate for Womens' Wrestling, and had to write letters and reports to USAW pleading to sanction the team. The USAW finally gave in and sanctioned the team and took them to the World Championships in Martigny Switzerland.) Coach MacKay is proud to have been a part of that history. 


From 1997 to 2011 he coached High School Wrestling at Hood River Valley High in Oregon, where they have produced numerous State Placers, State Champions and  Championship teams. 


Currently Coach MacKay is volunteering with the Newark Youth Wrestling Club, where his son Wilde is starting his own career. Newark Youth Wrestling is currently ranked #1 in the OAC Club standings. 

*Great job Cat Family! Wildcat Youth Wrestlers, Head Coach Ken Justice, coaching staff, and parents.



Coaching Experience

                   Golden Gate Womens Wrestling 

1987-1988 Coached the first Womens' Freestyle Wrestling Team in the USA 


                   Hood River Valley Eagle Wrestling:
1997-2004 Assistant Coach with Head Coach Mark Brown
2005-2006 Volunteer Assistant Coach with Head Coach Rich Polkinghorn

2007-2011 Assistant Coach with Head Coach Trent Kroll 


                   Newark Wildcat Wrestling Club:

2015-2016 Volunteer Coach with Head Coach Ken Justice

Wrestling Achievement Highlights

1980 USWF Ohio Freestyle Championships                                   OH                1st place

         AAU Elite Freestyle State Championships                             OH                1st place

         USWF Junior Nationals Freestyle                                           IA                  7th place

         AAU Junior Olympics (Freestyle)                                            CA                1st place

         AAU Junior Olympics (Greco)                                                 CA                1st place

1981 AAU Junior World Nat. Champ. Freestyle                               NE                2nd place

         AAU Junior World Nat. Champ. Greco                                    NE                1st place

         Alternate on both Junior World National Teams

         AAU World University Nat. Champ.  Greco                             NE                 2nd place

         Alternate on World University National Greco-Roman Team

1982 USA Cultural Exchange Team                                                 JAPAN 

         Competed against top 5 Japanese Collegiate Wrestlers                              3 Wins

1983 Greco-Roman National Championships                                  IL                  6th place

         Sports Festival Pre-trials/Pan American Team Trials

         Freestyle                                                                                  CO                2nd place

         Greco-Roman                                                                          CO                2nd place

1984 Southwestern Regional Olympic Trials                                    CA                1st place

         Train w/ West German Greco-Roman Olympic Team

1985 Grand Prix XII Internationals                                                   GERMANY     3rd place

         Concord International Greco-Roman                                       CA                 6th place 

         AAU National Freestyle Championships                                  CA                 1st place 


105.5 / 48 kilos weight class 

Our Philosophy

Freestyle… for Folkstyle 


In the USA we primarily focus on Folkstyle Wrestling. It is our American Style. This is marked by the amount of media coverage that our College teams get as compared to the little coverage of our USA World teams. Where the rest of the world focuses on the two International Olympic styles of Freestyle and Greco Roman we primarily focus on Collegiate (folkstyle) wrestling. On the International Level this puts the USA at a disadvantage right out of the gate. While other countries are gaining years of experience in a particular style, we are flip flopping back and forth, though this is an argument for a different time. 


What is important to note is role that Freestyle Wrestling plays in the development of our top collegiate wrestlers, where we are continuing to see a crossover and shift in wrestling style. 

At C.L.A.W. we believe that Freestyle wrestling is key component to being a successful Folkstyle wrestler. 


Freestyle’s emphasis is on “Attack Wrestling” with the goal being to demonstrate superiority through scoring exposure points (by exposing one’s opponent’s shoulders to the mat) or by pin. Always being active and on the attack, on pressing forward, and on taking risks. Stalling, passivity and defensive wrestling are not only discouraged, but are penalized. This focus can create an athletic mindset of being action oriented at all times. Our mindset is to be focused on the attack.


Folkstyle wrestling puts more emphasis on wrestling superiority through controlling your opponent, by riding and turning them for exposure when in the top position, and by getting away or escaping from the bottom position. The goal from the bottom position in Freestyle wrestling is to avoid being turned and exposed, period.


Learning freestyle provides many crossover opportunities that will help a wrestler become more rounded. Freestyle wrestling will increase the athlete’s awareness of total body control. With correct body positioning, an offensive wrestler can eliminate an opponent’s defenses. The wrestler who trains (through Freestyle) to continually wrestle an offensive match, which eliminates their opponent’s defenses, will excel in folkstyle wrestling as well. 


Through Freestyle experience the wrestler learns to be comfortable and know what to do in scramble positions. Because Freestyle wrestling puts the athlete in positions and in experiences they do not encounter  during the folkstyle season, it helps develop a new set of skills that their folkstyle opponents might not have. It also teaches the wrestler how to counter different moves that their freestyle opponents may be using. Freestyle is a great way to become a more complete, well rounded, experienced and confident wrestler. 


These quick flowing transitions in scramble situations are sometimes referred to as “the funk” or funk wrestling. At C.L.A.W we prefer to call this “Flow Wrestling”  because the athlete becomes much more fluid in moving from one attack to another, from one position to another. This encompasses chain wrestling ( putting moves together one after another like links in a chain) but is much more. Greater transitional skills are developed through Freestyle practice and competition, than could be acquired through Folkstyle alone. 


All in all, Freestyle is a great tool for developing the fundamental skills necessary for a good a Folkstyle foundation, while at the same time presenting an attack oriented mind set, and a flowing flexibility necessary for quick and effective transitions. 


Greco... for Folkstyle


Greco Roman Wrestling is recognized as our oldest form of wrestling and is believed to have been practiced by the ancient Greek and Roman Olympians. It is marked by it's distinct rules of never attacking the opponent below the waist and never using your lower body in an attack; ie. no single leg, double leg, high crotch, ankle picks, leg sweeps, trips, grape vines or leg riding. This exclusion of the legs presents the combatants with a more upright stance than seen in either Freestyle or Folkstyle, as the legs no longer need defended. 


Greco Roman has many influences and applications for both Freestyle and Folkstyle wrestling. Collar ties, inside control, two on one, throw-bys, slide- bys, duck-unders, snap-downs, arm throws, head and arm throws, the front head lock, bear hugs, body locks, the lateral drop, all came from Greco Roman wrestling. Chances are most wrestlers may be more familiar with Greco Roman wrestling than they might have thought. Having a working familiarity with Greco will provide more weapons for the athlete's arsenal. Wrestlers that master a backstep and arch, will add a deadly element to their offense in folkstyle wrestling, with a least one five-point move.

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