Wrestlers come in all sizes. But whether you barely tip the scales at over 100 pounds or weigh in close to 300, the sport requires incredible dedication — not to mention skill.
For more than a half-century, Ed Carlin exhibited such qualities … at Bainbridge High, then Syracuse University, where he’d impart his knowledge to teams from the 1960s until the mid-‘90s. As coach, Ed was a hands-on recruiter/teacher/organizer/fund-raiser.
Born in Newton, NJ, in 1935, his family moved to the Southern Tier 10 years later. In high school, he only lost one match in four years. On the Hill, his senior season capped a stellar career. Wrestling for Joe McDaniel, Ed was co-captain of the team and co-winner of the Davidson Outstanding Wrestler Award.
The No. 3 seed in the 1958 Eastern (EIWA) Championships, he was runner-up to top-seeded two-time NCAA champ Dave Auble. Ed would himself go on to coach a pair of two-time National champs. But not before his career took a curious turn.
Ed planned on joining the family machinery business or teach physical education in the public school system. However, his SU academic advisor mistakenly omitted a core course, offered only in the fall. Staying another semester to graduate, he received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, and was a graduate assistant for SU’s wrestling team.
Following a military stint, he coached SU’s freshman team. His unbeaten 1960 squad won the Easterns. Three years later, he was named varsity coach. More impressive than his 275-184-7 record is the fact that, early on, SU wrestling lacked scholarships. With an introduction of scholarships in 1974, Ed’s teams went 240-116-5 (.762).
He was devoted to the sport. He and his matmen built the wrestling building, adjacent to Manley Field House … he organized the Matmen’s Club (pre-Orange Pack) and started SU’s first summer camp.
His teams won five Eastern titles, were top three 11 of his last 15 years, and he had 42 individual Eastern champs. Ed was 1989 Eastern Coach of the Year. Nationally, he mentored 22 All-Americans, 7 NCAA champs (including two-time winners Jim Nance and the best he ever coached, 1980 Olympian and Hall of Famer Gene Mills).
Sadly for a 75-year-old program, one Ed worked decades to elevate, SU wrestling and its 62-year-old coach were retired in 1997. These days, Ed and wife Pat — who’ll be married 53 years in August and have four children--live in Brewerton, on Oneida Lake.
A 1991 SU LetterWinner of Distinction, Ed is a Hall of Famer many times over — New York State in ’86, Eastern (’05) and National (’07).
Now, Ed Carlin becomes a member of the 2021 Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame.