Chris Bono
Position: Head Coach
Alma Mater: Iowa State
Graduating Year: 1997
Phone: (423) 425-4287

Entering his third year as Head Wrestling Coach at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Chris Bono has certainly made his mark.  Two Southern Conference titles, two All-Americas, along with 14 NCAA qualifiers are just the beginning.


Bono brings a wealth of experience to the role.  As a competitor, his resume is world class.  As a coach, experience in one of the sports’ top collegiate programs along with the early success as a head coach provide a foundation for taking the Chattanooga program to even greater heights.


Although the Mocs have 23 titles in their 31 years in the Southern Conference, Bono believes in the program’s ability to gain further national prominence.  This is done by competing against the best and aggressive scheduling is at the heart of his plan.


During his three seasons, the Mocs have scheduled as many ranked teams as Bono can find.  The “take on all comers” attitude has served to move the Mocs in the national limelight including wins over Ohio State in each of the last two seasons with the Nov. 10, 2007 win coming against the eighth-ranked Buckeyes in Maclellan Gym.  The Mocs also faced a top 10 Missouri squad at home that season as well.


Last season, the Mocs registered SoCon title No. 23 en route to qualifying eight wrestlers for the NCAA Championships.  Cody Cleveland won All-America status at 141, while Lloyd Rogers (174) was named SoCon co-Wrestler of the Year.  Chattanooga reached a high ranking of No. 10 during the season.


Joining Cleveland, who was the No. 10 seed at 141, and Rogers at nationals were Javier Maldanado (125), Steve Hromada (133), Joey Knox (149), Seth Garvin (165), Josh Edmondson (184) and Matt Koz (197).  The Mocs compiled an 11-6 season, 5-0 in the SoCon, with a 37th-place finish at nationals.


Bono, who was named head coach on July 29, 2006, wasted little time, directing the Mocs to their 22nd Southern Conference championship and coaching nine NCAA Qualifiers in 2006-07.  He took nine wrestlers to the 2007 NCAA Championships, a feat only matched by national-power Minnesota.  Matt Keller earned All-America status, and the squad secured a 20th-place finish, the program’s highest finish since 1983.


In his first season, Bono took the Mocs on a magical ride during the regular season.  He guided the team to a 16-1 dual-match record including an 11-match win streak to start the season and a victory at No. 14 Ohio State.  He received high consideration for National Coach of the Year honors from  


The 16 wins tied a school record for victories in a season.  The Mocs .941 winning percentage was the fourth best all-time.


Bono is a former NCAA Wrestling Champion who was on the Mocs’ staff in 2005-06 as an assistant coach.  He helped lead UTC to its 21st Southern Conference title and a 30th-place finish at the NCAA Championships.  He was named the interim head coach in 2006.


Bono joined the UTC staff in 2005 after serving nine years as a wrestling assistant coach at national-power Iowa State.  He worked for Head Coach Bobby Douglas and was the Cyclones’ head assistant coach for the last five years.


During Bono’s final year on the ISU staff, he helped direct the Cyclones to a 16-4 dual match record in 2004-05, a third-place finish in the Big 12 Conference and a sixth-place showing at the 2005 NCAA Championships.


A native of Gilbert, Iowa, Bono holds many coaching and competitive honors.  He was named the National Wrestling Coaches Association Assistant Coach of the Year in 2002 for his role in ISU’s success that season.  The Cyclones compiled a 17-5 dual match record and were NCAA runner-ups with five wrestlers earning All-America status.


Bono, who lettered at Iowa State from 1994-97, ranks fifth on the program’s all-time wins list with 130 victories.  He won the NCAA 150-pound title as a junior.


A four-time NCAA participant, he placed fifth at the Nationals as a sophomore and second as a senior.  As a freshman, he placed eighth at the Big Eight Conference Championships.  He wrestled to a Big Eight Conference runner-up finish his sophomore year, won the Big Eight title as a junior and was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler at the inaugural Big 12 Conference Championship in 1997.  He registered a 41-11 record as a sophomore, went 37-4 as a junior and was 37-2 his senior season (115-17 his final three seasons).


Bono’s wrestling success did not come to a halt upon his graduation from Iowa State.  During the summer of 2004 as a freestyle competitor, Bono defeated Doug Schwab, 5-4, to take third place at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials in Las Vegas, Nev.  In 2003, Bono won the 145.5-pound title at the U.S. Senior Freestyle National Championships in Las Vegas, qualifying for the World Team Trials in Indianapolis, Ind., where he was runner-up at that same weight.  He was a U.S. World Cup team member, earning the gold medal at the 2003 World Cup Wrestling Championships in Boise, Idaho, and was a member of the national team at the 2003 Titan Games in San Jose, Calif.


Bono’s freestyle accomplishments in 2002 led to a U.S. Senior Freestyle No. 1 national ranking at 145.5 pounds and a spot on the U.S. World Team.  He began the year with a first-place showing at the Dave Schultz Memorial in Colorado Springs, Colo., followed by a fourth-place finish at the Kiev Grand Prix in Kiev, Ukraine.  He won a bronze medal at the Pan American Championships in Caracara, Venezuela, and placed third at the U.S. Freestyle National Championships in Las Vegas, earning a berth to the World Team Trials.


At the 2002 World Team Trials, Bono swept through the mini-tournament beating Reggie Wright (Gator WC) of Colorado Springs, Colo., 3-1 and Schwab (Hawkeye WC) of Iowa City, Iowa, 3-2 to advance to the finals.  In the 145.5-pound championship, Bono defeated Jamill Kelly (Gator WC) of Stillwater, Okla., 3-1 and 3-0, earning his second consecutive World Team Trials title.


In a special wrestle-off for the 145.5-pound spot on the 2002 U.S. World Team, Bono defeated Bill Zadick (Hawkeye WC) of Iowa City, Iowa, two matches to one, 2-3, 3-1, 3-2 OT, to earn his second consecutive trip to the World Championships.  The U.S. World Team, however, did not compete at the World Championships in Tehran, Iran.


Bono also captured top honors at the 2004 NYAC Invitational with a victory in the finals over 2004 NCAA champion Jesse Jantzen, formerly of Harvard, and also earned a 66 kilogram title at the 20th annual Sunkist International Open with a win in the finals over former 2003 NCAA 149-pound champion and current Arizona State assistant coach Eric Larkin.


Bono competed at the 2005 World Championships in September in Budapest, Hungary.  At the 2005 World Team Trials, Bono, the number one seed, captured the title at 66 kilograms by defeating Jared Lawrence two matches to none.


In May of 2006, Bono beat Japan’s Kohei Fujimoto (1-0, 2-0), Uzbekistan’s Muradollo Ablokulov (2-4, 1-0, 2-0) and Russia’s Jirair Oganesyan (1-1, 5-4) at the Independence Cup Grand Prix in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.  He finished with the silver medal after losing 0-1, 2-1, 1-1 to Russia’s Andrey Sementsov on a takedown with 14 seconds left in the final period. Sementsov was the reigning Junior European champion.


Bono won the 2007 U.S. Freestyle national title in Las Vegas and received an automatic bid to the World Team Trials.  Seeded fourth at 145.5 pounds at Nationals, he defeated second-seeded Lawrence for the title.  At the 2007 World Team Trials, he finished runner-up to Schwab in the finals by a 2-1 score.  He lost in the challenge finals in Las Vegas at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials.


Bono earned his bachelor’s degree in Exercise and Sports Science from Iowa State in 1997. He and his wife, Niki, have two daughters, Josie and Ellie.


Bono by the Numbers








One All-America/Nine NCAA Qualifiers/SoCon Champions




One All-America/Eight NCAA Qualifiers/SoCon Champions




Two All-Americas/Two SoCon Titles



Southern Conference Coach of the Year

2007, 2008

NWCA National Assistant Coach of the Year


Fifth All-Time in Wins at Iowa State


NCAA Champion at 150


Three-Time NCAA All-America

1995, 1996, 1997

Four-time NCAA National Participant

1994, 1995, 1996, 1997

Big 12 Conference Championship Most Outstanding Wrestler


Big 12 Conference Champion

1996, 1997

U.S. Senior Freestyle No. 1 Ranking (145.5)


U.S. Senior Freestyle National Champion

2003, 2007

World Cup Wrestling Gold Medalist


World Team Trials Champion

2001, 2002, 2005

U.S. World Team

2001, 2002, 2005, 2007

Pan American Games Bronze Medalist


Independence Cup Grand Prix Silver Medalist



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