Wheeling University in Wheeling, West Virginia has hired Cory Kephart as the new head coach of the men’s and women’s swimming teams. The job is one of the last vacant NCAA head coaching positions as practice begins across the country this month.
“My three kids are all swimming in college now, and I had always loved the D2 student/dynamic from my coaching beginnings,” Kephart said of the decision to take the job at Wheeling.” A colleague of mine suggested Wheeling and it was one of those now or never opportunities to get back in the NCAA.
“Flew in for an interview and loved the people and location and am looking forward to getting the program back and running on all cylinders.”
Kephart comes to the program from Bishop Moore High School in Orlando. Before that, he worked for the SKY Family YMCA Hurricanes in Southwest Florida, where he coached since 2017. Prior to that, he spent almost a decade with Seminole Aquatics in Sanford, where he worked with both swimmers and triathletes. He also has coaching stops at Clearwater Central Catholic High School and with the Berkley Barracudas.
Kephart has one prior collegiate stop on his resume – at his alma mater, Gannon University. After graduating in 1991, he spent two years as a graduate assistant before spending two years as head coach at the NCAA Division II school. There, he coached several CSCAA All-Americans.
He now returns to Division II at Wheeling: a program that has been in a precarious state. The school quietly cut the team in 2017 amid a university-wide budget crisis, and then reinstated the program in 2020. Michael Orstein was named the head coach originally, though Daniel Murphy ultimately took over in 2020 – a season wiped out by COVID. That made 2021-2022 the team’s first return to competitive swimming.
Murphy was named the head coach of his alma mater, Missouri S&T, over the summer.
Last season, the Wheeling women finished 10th out of 11 teams and the Wheeling men finished 9th out of 10 teams at the Great Midwest & Mountain East Conference Championships. Among the top performers returning performers for the team are Nathan Yost (14th in the 200 free) and Ethan Banks (8th in the 1000 free, 10th in the 500 free) on the men’s side, and Jade Miller (6th in the 200 back, 13th in the 100 back) and Meredith Mandal (9th in the 200 fly) on the women’s side.
This move for Kephart brings him closer to his son, Wesley, who is entering his redshirt sophomore season at Pitt, where he was on the ACC Academic Honor Roll last season. The Pitt and Wheeling campuses are only about an hour apart across the state line. While Wesley was a Florida 3A State Champion in the 50 free in 2018, he focused more on middle-distance freestyle races in his freshman year at Pitt.
Welsey also has an older brother, Austin, who swims and plays water polo at Salem University in West Virginia, about two hours in the other direction from Wheeling. Wesley’s twin sister, Ashley, swims at North Florida. She ended her sophomore year as the 6th-fastest swimmer in school history in the 100 free and as a member of the school-record setting 400 free relay.
Wheeling kicks off its 2022-2023 season on October 14 at the West Virginia State Games.