Internationally Recognized Wrestling Coach
In a fitting tribute from the American wrestling community, the national hierarchy of U.S. amateur wrestling came to northern New Jersey for a major Olympic fundraising dinner early in 2006 and honored Blair Academy’s longtime head coach Jeff Buxton with USA Wrestling’s Lifetime Achievement Award
. The speakers included wrestling legend Dan Gable, U.S. Olympic Coach Steve Fraser and recently retired Olympic Gold Medalist
Rulon Gardner, who was honored along with Coach Buxton.
One of the highlights of the evening for the four hundred in attendance was a special video presentation depicting former Buxton Blair wrestlers in action at the most-recent NCAA’s, those of 2005. As the video showed, Coach Buxton’s wrestlers won 30 matches at those NCAAs and took five All American places that included an amazing two firsts, one second and a third.
Jeff Buxton was a coach and math teacher at Blair Academy starting in 1982. At first, Jeff coached both lacrosse and wrestling at Blair, but eventually he focused on wrestling, becoming co-head wrestling coach in 1984 and head wrestling coach in 1991.
Coach Buxton’s success at Blair is legendary
His teams and his individual wrestlers established a standard of excellence widely respected throughout the wrestling world, both in the United States and abroad.
Of the more than 10,000 high schools in the United States that have varsity wrestling programs, Coach Buxton’s Blair teams have been the #1 team in the USA ten times, starting in 1995-1996 and running through the 2011-2012 season. In addition to those two seasons, they were #1 in the USA in 1996-1997, in the first six seasons of the 21st century (meaning 2000-2001 through 2005-2006) and in 2008-2009.
To date, Blair graduates who wrestled for Jeff Buxton have won an unprecedented 37 NCAA Division 1 All American places, to include 10 individual NCAA crowns, 6 seconds and 7 thirds. Moreover, they have been critical members of 7 NCAA Division 1 championship teams.
Coach Buxton’s individual NCAA champs include four 2-time champions, namely, Pat Santoro (Pitt), Steve Mocco (Iowa & Oklahoma State), Mark Perry (Iowa) and Kellen Russell (Michigan). In addition, Zack Esposito (Oklahoma State) and Ed Ruth (Penn State) have each won one NCAA title.
On two different occasions two Buxton wrestlers won individual titles at the same NCAAs: In 2005 Zack Esposito and Steve Mocco won NCAAs for Oklahoma State, and in 2012 Kellen Russell won NCAAs for Michigan and Ed Ruth won NCAAs for Penn State.
Under Jeff Buxton, Blair won the USA’s top in-season high school tournaments 26 times, more than twice as often as all other teams in the country, COMBINED. Specifically, Blair won Beast of the East 16 times and Ironman 10 times. Aside: St Edward (OH) has the 2nd most team titles at Ironman and Beast with a combined total of 6, five coming at Ironman and one at Beast.
Blair wrestlers have won 98 individual crowns at these two outstanding tournaments, 51 at Beast and 47 at Ironman.
Moreover, Blair won the National Prep Tournament every one of Coach Buxton’s 30 years at Blair. During that time, Blair wrestlers captured 160 individual National Prep championships.
Coach Buxton’s Blair USA #1 team of 2001-2002 is considered by many wrestling experts and students of the game to have been the best high school wrestling team anywhere, ever. It was known for its extraordinary talent, its unparalleled depth and its ability to generate huge bonus points up and down its line-up.
Wrestlers from the 2001-2002 Blair team were selected to 8 ASICS All American First Team berths and went on to win 14 NCAA Division 1 All American places, this despite the fatal illness that struck Adam Frey early in his college career and the serious injuries that prevented two other NCAA careers. Wrestlers from the Blair 2001-2002 team are on the Hall of Fame walls at Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Iowa, Iowa State, Maryland and Oklahoma State.
Jeff Buxton’s USA #1 team of 2008-2009 holds a special place in Blair Academy history. Not only did it prove to be a surprisingly dominant, perhaps over-achieving team, but among the outstanding graduates it sent off to America’s best colleges was Jeff and Carol Buxton’s son, Tony, who is a member of Harvard’s Class of 2013.
Known for his selfless contributions to the development of wrestlers, Coach Buxton ran an open wrestling room at Blair, one in which many non-Blair wrestlers developed their skills. In the off-season, Jeff worked year in, year out with the New Jersey state teams that went to the national Cadet and Junior Freestyle Duals in June and the Cadet and Junior National individual tournaments in Fargo, ND in July.
Under Coach Buxton, a number of Blair’s best wrestlers have been from New Jersey every year, among them future multi-year NCAA All Americans Steve Mocco, Kellen Russell, Zack Esposito, Hudson Taylor, Kurt Backes and Sean Gray. In addition, thanks to the exceptional reputation of the Blair program under Coach Buxton, wrestlers have come to Blair from all over the USA, and from outside the country as well.
In the 21st century alone, Jeff Buxton had starting wrestlers from California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Among the most famous of these were Iowa’s 4-time NCAA All American and 2-time NCAA Champ Mark Perry, who came to Blair from Stillwater, Oklahoma, and Penn State’s 2012 NCAA Champ Ed Ruth, who came to Blair from Susquehanna, Pennsylvania. In addition, famed youth coach Marat Tomaev, who won Ironman, Beast of the East and National Preps, the latter two tournaments twice each, came to Blair as a teenager — from Russia.
A dyed-in-the-wool Boston Red Sox fan, Jeff Buxton was a three-sport athlete at Providence Country Day School in Rhode Island, where he played lacrosse and football and wrestled. He was undefeated all four years as a wrestler, and won the National Prep Tournament in 1975.
Coach Buxton wrestled for the University of Rhode Island, and was the Outstanding Wrestler at the 1980 Northeastern Regional Trials for the United States Olympic Team. He is a member of the Rhode Island Hall of Fame and in 2009 was selected as the first ever National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) “National Prep Coach of the Year,” an award he won twice more, including in 2012.
In addition to their son Tony, Carol and Jeff Buxton have a daughter, Siena, Blair Class of 2011 and High Point (NC) College Class of 2015.