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Ryan Witzel

Graduation: 2009
Degree: Sports & Fitness

Ryan Witzel graduated from Melbourne High School in 2004 as an FHSAA state place winner and 110 high school wins. Like many Florida high school graduates, Witzel did not plan to wrestle in college. After taking a couple years off from the sport, Witzel pursued his wrestling passion. With only two years before graduation, Witzel had to commit to an intense training program to make up for lost time. In his first year with UCF, Witzel qualified for the NCWA National Tournament at 157 lbs. and took on a leadership role with the team. Witzel’s maturity and tenacity helped earn him the title of team captain in his second year with team. As team captain, Witzel lead the team to a fifth place finish at the NCWA National Tournament and Witzel finished with an All-American spot of his own. The coaches at UCF describe Witzel as a “leader who leads by example and builds strong positive relationships with his teammates.” Although his teammates joke that Ryan was always around with a smile and a bag of candy, his love for teammates is what made the team so strong. His teammates also remember his super-human grip developed from years of laying bricks with his father who continues to support wrestling. 

Following his graduation in 2009 with a degree in Sports and Fitness, Witzel joined his alma mater at Melbourne High School as assistant wrestling coach. Witzel also started teaching physical education in Brevard County. In 2011, Witzel took over the Melbourne program as head coach and has coached 8 state place winners and 8 other state qualifiers. Witzel’s program is finding success through his dedication and commitment to the wrestlers. 

This year completed Witzel’s fourth year of teaching and third year as head coach. In addition to coaching at Melbourne High School, Witzel now teaches sixth grade. During the summer, Witzel also works at Brevard Zoo with the Oyster Restoration program as an educator. Witzel is responsible for putting on workshops that educate people about the importance of oysters and preservation at sites like Mosquito Lagoon and River Lagoon. Witzel also works with volunteers to create mats that are used in the preservation of Mosquito Lagoon. 

UCF is proud of Alumnus Ryan Witzel and the impact that he is now having on Florida wrestling, the environment, and young students’ lives.


William Rothenberg

Graduation Year: 2009 
Degree: Philosophy

William “Willie” Rothenberg graduated in 2005 from Fort Myers High School coached by Gary Freis, Coach Weekly, Markowski, and Daly.  Willie was a multiple time state qualifier in Florida and decided to follow his big brother and former teammates to UCF.  Like his older brother, Willie also found success at UCF and finished as a 4X NCWA National Qualifier.  Willie is especially proud having received the Johnny Rouse Perseverance Award for his tough “never give up” attitude.  Willie helped to foster that attitude with his teammates as captain in 2009.  At UCF, Willie was a member of the Faculty Senate Ethics Task Force.

Following graduation, Willie returned to Fort Myers and worked as an assistant coach for his brother at Cypress Lake High School and Cypress Lake Wrestling Club (CLWC).  He also taught students with disabilities (ESE) at Cypress Lake High School.  Shortly after returning home, Willie was accepted to law school at Florida State University.  While at FSU, Willie worked for the Child Advocacy Clinic, the Florida Department of Education, and continued doing marketing for the CLWC. 

In 2013, Willie graduated from FSU Law School and returned to Fort Myers to help his brother with the Cypress Lake Wrestling Club.  Willie also taught ESE Varying Exceptionalities at Caloosa Middle School.  Recently Willie was admitted to the Florida Bar and is now doing legal research for local solo practitioners while looking for a full-time legal position.  As the marketing director for CLWC, Willie is also proud of recently being selected as a finalist for the NWCA “Best of Brand” for social media and graphic design.

Great job, Willie!


Rob McCarty

Graduation: 2008 
Degree:  B.S., Criminal Justice

Rob McCarty graduated from St. Mary’s High School in Colorado Springs, CO in 2004.  After joining the team, McCarty became an immediate asset to the program.  Following his senior year, McCarty was a 3X NCWA All-American, team captain, and National Runner-up.  After completing his degree in Criminal Justice, McCarty started graduate school before completing the police academy in 2009.  McCarty was hired with Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

As a Sheriff’s Deputy, McCarty made the OCSO SWAT Team in 2011 and completed the Carlos Hathcock Sniper School in 2012.  He was also recognized with the White Feather Award for top marksman; only 5th person in OCSO to earn the recognition.  McCarty is currently working patrol shifts between Dr. Phillips and Pine Hills for the Sheriff’s Department.  

McCarty recently purchased his first home in Clermont, FL and has been working to improve his golf game to little avail.  He is excited to compete in Johnny Rouse Golf Tournament and once again walk away as champion.



Graduation Year: 2005 

Tom Lawlor is an American professional mixed martial artistprofessional wrestler and podcast host. As a professional wrestler, Lawlor is known for his time with Major League Wrestling (MLW), where he is a former one-time MLW World Heavyweight Champion. Lawlor competed in the Light Heavyweight division of the UFC. A professional since 2007, he was also a cast member of SpikeTV's The Ultimate Fighter: Team Nogueira vs. Team Mir

Lawlor wrestled for University of Central Florida at 235 lb weight class. He won three national championships in the NCWA 2003, 2004, 2005 and as a freshman placed third. 


Paul Rothenberg

Graduation: 2008 
Degree:  BS Industrial Engineering

Paul Rothenberg graduated from the Ft. Myers High School powerhouse in 2003 where he was coached by Hall of Fame Coach Gary Freis.  Rothenberg followed former high school teammate, Jason Balma, to UCF to wrestle and pursue a degree in engineering.  Rothenberg immediately earned his place on the team as he finished 3rd at the NCWA National Tournament as a freshman.  Coached by Johnny Rouse, Bob Wargo, Scott Sherman, Jason Snow, and Jason Balma, Rothenberg would finish as a NCWA All-American three more seasons making him just one of six UCF wrestlers to be a 4X All-American. Following his eligibility, Rothenberg served the program as an assistant coach from 2007-2008 while completing his degree.  Rothenberg also recruited his younger brother, Willie Rothenberg, to the UCF’s team in 2005.

Following graduation, Rothenberg changed his initial plans and decided to pursue his true passion of teaching and coaching.  Rothenberg was hired as the Head Coach of Cypress Lake High School in 2008 and shortly after began teaching math at Cypress Lake High School.  When Rothenberg took over the program, there were four different coaches in just five years and only seven FHSAA state place winners in 40 years.  Since 2008, Rothenberg has added six additional state place winners; including several repeat place winners and a two-time state champion.  Rothenberg also earned two top 15 team finishes at the state tournament. In 2012 Rothenberg was named “News Press All Area Wrestling Coach” along with one of his wrestlers who was named “News Press Wrestler of the Year.”  To keep the trend of success moving forward, Rothenberg also started Cypress Lake Wrestling Club (CLWC) for youth wrestling where he coaches with his father and brother, Brad & Willie Rothenberg.  This year the CLWC was named national finalist in the NWCA “Best of Brand” national competition.


Jimmy Myers

Graduation Year: 2007 

Jimmy Myers, an East Lake High School graduate and FHSAA state place-winner, joined the UCF Knights wrestling team in 2004. Myers was a team member during the back-to-back national championship years in 2004 and 2005. In 2005, Myers secured his first of three NCWA All-American finishes at 184 lbs & 197 lbs. Following graduation from UCF with a degree in Hospitality Management, Myers moved to San Francisco for the Hyatt Corporate Management Trainee Sales program and later became the sales manager for the Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport. To earn extra income in San Francisco, Myers started a fitness boot-camp that he managed four days a week after work during his job with Hyatt. Realizing how much personal training was a passion; Myers moved back to his hometown of Clearwater, FL and began training professional, collegiate, and high school baseball players at the Winning Inning Baseball Academy. Myers also did TRX boot-camps to earn extra income. Soon after returning home, Myers found his niche and had a following of athletic trainees and opened his own facility called Tampa Bay Athletics. Today, Myers employs four athletic trainers and one apprentice to provide group training classes as well as individualized programs that meet personal goals. Myers' business model is providing fun energetic classes with the added benefit of individualized program goals and athletic performance development. Since the business opening in 2012, Myers continues to thrive having found his true passion at Tampa Bay Athletics. As he learned from his career in judo and wrestling, hard work is the key ingredient to a happy and successful lifestyle. Myers has also expanded his training to include training professional fighters at Gracie Tampa West where his teaches wrestling. Myers describes his career as, “My typical day is filled with tons of hard work that doesn’t feel like work because it’s doing what I love.”


Zach Sanford

Graduation: 2008 

Just after finishing his eligibility in 2008, Zach Sanford served as assistant coach for the UCF program for two seasons. Sanford was an exceptional young college coach as he finished his own wrestling career as a 3X SE Conference Champion and 3X NCWA All-American. Following his graduation and departure from UCF, Sanford has been the head wrestling coach at Sebastian River High School and entering his 5th season at the helm. This past season Sanford had 3 state qualifiers and his first FHSAA state place winner, the school’s first since 2008. Sanford teaches Physical Education in Indian River County; he currently works at Highlands Elementary in Vero Beach. Since graduation Sanford has also been very active in the local MMA and BJJ community, teaching wrestling skills to professional fighters and grapplers at American Top Team Vero Beach. In addition to teaching wrestling at ATT, he has also been competing in MMA fights. He has had a number of amateur fights with a record of 4-1. Recently, Sanford was invited to travel to Sao Jose do Rio Preto, Brazil for the summer to coach wrestling and train for his pro MMA debut. Sanford will fight Rio Preto on July 26. Obrigado!


Brian Pierson

Graduation Year: 2007 

Since graduating from UCF in May 2008, I have been on quite an adventure in my life. I took approximately a year off after college to figure out what I truly wanted to do next in my life. By March 2009, I answered the calling that only a few answer and began the application process for becoming an Officer in the United States Marine Corps. By October 1, 2009 I was arriving in Quantico, VA to face one of the most challenging events in my life, Officer Candidate School (Bootcamp for Marine Corps Officers). After graduating on December 11, 2009 I was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant and spent the next year of my career in The Basic School for Marine Corps Officers and the Infantry Officer Course where I would learn a majority of my military training that would allow me to eventually train and lead Marines in a combat environment. Upon completion of my training, I became a member of 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines where I remained for the next 3 years. During my time with 3/6, I deployed to Afghanistan where I trained and lead Marines and Afghan soldiers in day to day combat situations, I deployed to the Republic of Georgia to train Georgian soldiers for their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan, and I also deployed to Okinawa, Fuji, and the Philippines where I was responsible for assisting in increasing the combat readiness of over 800 Marines and Sailors by assisting in the creation and execution of combat scenarios.

On November 11, 2013 I was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps and moved back to Miami, FL to be closer to my parents. I have been in the process of attempting to become a police officer in the state of Florida. While waiting to be selected by a department, I decided I need something to occupy my time and be a source of income for myself. This passed month I attended and successfully completed the Florida Real Estate Sales Associate Course and am now a Florida certified REALTOR. These last four years have been the most trying of times for me and I appreciate all of the support that I received from my past teammates/life long friends from the Central Florida Wrestling Team. Always Be Ready! One Team, One Fight.


Stephen DeAugustino

Graduation: 2012
Degrees: Broadcast Journalism & Digital Media 

Stephen DeAugustino grew up in Flagler County, Florida and learned wrestling under the tutelage of his father, Steve DeAugustino. A large wrestling family, Stephen's father was introduced into the Wrestling Hall of Fame's Florida Chapter in 2004, later joined by his grandfather who was introduced into the Pennsylvania Chapter the next year. Another relative, Gus DeAugustino, competed as an alternate in the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki. A lifetime surrounded by the sport paid dividends for Stephen, as he produced multiple state-placing finishes, 4 conference titles and the record for most wins in school history at FPC.

Looking to continue wrestling at the next level, DeAugustino weighed several NCAA offers before deciding to stay in-state and compete with UCF. Soon after earning a starting spot at the 133 pound weight class, DeAugustino produced for the Knights with several tournament wins and an All-American, 7th place finish at nationals. DeAugustino continued that trend throughout his college career, finding the podium the next three years to become the Black and Gold's 7th (?) 4x All-American. DeAugustino is still the all-time wins leader for the Knights, but also holds that distinction for the NCWA itself, as well as tied for most wins at the NCWA national tournament. However, DeAugustino's crowning achievement is leading the Knight's in 2010 as a captain to their third and most recent NCWA National Title.

DeAugustino spent a year helping coach the team with Jason Balma before graduating in the summer of 2012. Shortly after he was hired by NBC Sports and the Golf Channel as a Production Associate in the news department, writing and producing content for their programs. His goal is to join NBC in Olympic Wrestling coverage, starting with Rio in 2016.

In his free time DeAugustino loves to continue two passions the UCF program kindled in him: Traveling and competing. A year after graduation DeAugustino headed to South Africa to spend time with underprivileged children through a volunteer outreach center. Around that same time, he took his wrestling to a new arena, competing in MMA and grappling under the guidance of fellow UCF Alumnus Jayson Patino at American Top Team. Currently, DeAugustino focuses on helping coach his younger brother Michael, who grew up with the UCF program. Michael placed 4th at the FHSAA state tournament last year as a freshman. 


TJ Gillin

Graduation Year: 2011

Degree: Elementary Education 

For Thomas “TJ” Gillin, ending his wrestling career at high school was never an option. TJ’s wrestling career began with long-time friend, high school teammate, and college teammate Stephen DeAugustino. Wrestling at a high level was nothing new to TJ as he came from Florida powerhouse program Flagler Palm Coast under the tutelage of Fall of Fame coach Steve DeAugustino Sr. For both TJ and Stephen the choice was simple; stay in Florida and wrestle for the NCWA powerhouse UCF.

While at UCF, TJ immediate emerged as both a tough competitor and team leader. Like his co-captain, Stephen DeAugustino,TJ led by example. TJ was a two-time NCWA All-American and member of the 2010 national championship team and accumulated 123 college wins. Coach Balma remembers TJ as a wrestler who never gave during a match, no matter the score or the opponent. Coach Balma also described TJ as one of UCF wrestling’s finest products; a student-athlete who made high achievements in the classroom, never missed a practice, and genuinely cared about his teammates.

TJ received his degree in Elementary Education; a rare thing for a male athlete but fitting for TJ’s caring personality. TJ currently teaches 5th grade in his hometown Palm Coast, FL where his recently completed his 5th year of teaching.

TJ also gives back to the sport that gave him so much. He is an assistant coach at his old high school, Palm Coast High School. As a coach, Gillin has coached six FHSAA state place-winners, won two conference titles, two district tournament titles, one regional tournament title, and took his team to a 5th place finish at the FHSAA state tournament this year. TJ takes great pride in giving back to the wrestling community and staying involved with his alma mater at UCF.

UCF Wrestling is proud of TJ Gillin!!

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