danny irwin photo
Manchester Alum Danny Irwin was awarded the Claude Wolfe Coach of the Year. Irwin coaches wrestling at West Liberty University.
Photo provided by MU Athletics

Alum Danny Irwin Awarded Coach of the Year at 2021 Athletics Hall of Fame

Sam France

The 2021 Athletics Hall of Fame inductees along with the Claude Wolfe Coach of the Year were celebrated during a ceremony on Homecoming Saturday morning. Four athletes were inducted, including two baseball players and two track and field athletes. The Coach of the Year is a wrestling coach. Athletics director and baseball coach Rick Espeset, smoothly introduced each athlete, which included a voiceover slideshow showing pictures and stating record-breaking stats.

Danny Irwin, the Coach of the Year, graduated from Manchester in 2008 and has had a successful career in coaching wrestling. He is the 2021 NCAA Division II national coach of the year finalist at West Liberty University, Super Region 3 coach of the year. Although Irwin could not make it in person, he sent a video thanking the people who selected him and congratulating the inductees.

Justin Libey is a baseball player who graduated in 2003. He was a pitcher and ranks 2nd in wins (26), strikeouts (227) and innings pitched (307.2). Libey set himself apart and grew as a competitor from his first year to his last year. He also holds the school record for wins in a season with 11 set in 2002. He was a First Team All-American, First Team All-Region and First Team All-Conference in 2002 as well. Along with all those accomplishments he was drafted by the Phillies in the 33rd round of the MLB draft. In his speech he thanked his parents for pushing him towards his dreams.

Bridgette Rowe is a jumper who graduated in 2016. She is one of the greatest athletes to come through Manchester. Her time in track and field was dominant: Rowe is a three-time All-American, four-time HCAC Field Athlete of the Year; 11-time HCAC Individual Event Champion, 2014 HCAC Female Athlete of the Year, and NCAA Woman of the Year nominee in 2016. She is also the school record holder in the long jump, high jump, and triple jump. In her speech she spoke about seven lessons she learned through here sports experience. “Even with a shaky start,” she said, “you can achieve anything.”

Nick Chaney is also a baseball player who graduated in 2003. He was a second baseman who powered the team. He is third all time in career batting average (.369) and seventh all time in hits. He was a First team All American in 2002 with a batting average of .440. He is also top ten in program history in nine different statistical categories. In his speech he stated that he wanted to make sure everyone was just as competitive as him and to set a precedent for future teams.

John Kimmel is a high jumper who graduated in 2010. He is remembered not only for his hard work and talent but also for his personality. He was a three-time All-American, the 2009 NCAA Division III Outdoor Champion in the high jump, and five-time NCAA National Qualifier. In his last year he was the Great Lakes Region Indoor Field Athlete of the Year. In his speech he said that he was not very good his first year, but due to hard work he took off.

The MU Athletics webpage has a complete list of all Coaches of the Year.