Rocky Burkett enters his third season as head coach of Wolves wrestling in 2017-18.
In his second season with the Wolves, Burkett advanced three wrestlers to the NCAA National Championships in Tyler Stenberg, Sean Havlovic, and Joe Gomez. Gomez earned his third straight All-American honor finishing seventh at 197 pounds. Stenberg also became the third NSU wrestler to win a Super Region Three crown as the Champion at 149 pounds. Joe Gomez also became the first Elite 18 wrestling honoree holding the top GPA of any NSIC wrestler attending the NCAA Championships. He was also just the 11th wrestler in school history to reach the 100 career win mark with 57 wins in his two seasons with Burkett.
In his first season with the Wolves Burkett brought the program to a new standard. Academically the Wolves finished the 2015-16 season ranked 14th nationally in NCAA Division II, being honored with NWCA All-Academic. In addition the team worked to jump their GPA from a 2.6 in the spring of 2015 to a 3.14 in the fall of 2015. Burkett and the Wolves tallied two nationally ranked wrestlers throughout the season in Tyler Stenberg at 149 pounds and Joe Gomez at 197 pounds. Gomez was crowned the NCAA Super Region III Champion and went on to earn his second straight NCAA All-American honor as the National Runner-up.
Burkett spent the previous three seasons as the head wrestling coach at Aberdeen Central High School, where he led the Golden Eagles to two Eastern South Dakota Conference titles (2014 and 2015), two Region 3 titles (2014 and 2015), and the 2014 South Dakota State Wrestling Tournament team title. Rocky coached 28 state place winners, most notably four state champions in his three seasons in Aberdeen. Burkett was named the 2014 and 2015 South Dakota Region 3 Wrestling Coach of the Year, and the 2014 South Dakota High School Coaches Association Coach of the Year.
Burkett returns to the NSU coaching staff after two stints with the Wolves as a graduate assistant from 2005-07 and an assistant coach from 2007-11. In his time with the Wolves, the Rochester (IN) native, helped coach ten wrestlers to NCAA Division II National Tournament appearances, two NCAA All-Americans, and one NCAA National Champion.
Burkett began his coaching career at Rochester High School in Rochester, Indiana. Rocky coached three Zebras to the IHSAA State Tournament, with two place winners. His experience goes far beyond the high school and collegiate ranks, with a laundry list of camp experiences. Since 2006, Burkett has worked at the Northern State University, Dakota Wesleyan University, and most notably the J Robinson (University of Minnesota) wrestling camps, while organizing and running the Aberdeen Central camps.
As a collegiate wrestler at Manchester College in North Manchester, Indiana, Rocky earned two Mid-States Wrestling Conference Championships (2002 and 2003), two NCAA Division III Academic All-American nods (2003 and 2004), and appeared in the 2003 NCAA Division III National Tournament. Burkett earned his Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a Middle School Social Studies Endorsement from Manchester College in 2005. He then went on to receive his Master’s degree in Health, Physical Education, and Coaching from NSU in 2007, while serving as a graduate assistant coach.
Rocky and his wife, Jennifer, reside in Aberdeen with their three children Ryder, Becca, and Reid.