Kingsway welcomed three new head coaches this fall, and all three were very successful. Well, the trend continues this winter.
Mike Barikian was approved for his first-ever head coaching job as Kingsway’s wrestling coach, replacing Anthony Badaracco.
As an athlete himself, Barikian finished fourth at the NJ State Championships in the 152 pound weight class as a senior. He also led Sterling to two consecutive South Jersey Group 2 team championships.
He ended his high school career with a record of 101-31. Of note, he also played quarterback and defensive end for Sterling’s football team.
After graduating from Sterling, he was accepted into the prestigious Naval Academy, where he was a four year letter winner. His teams had winning records all four years that he was there. He eventually was named team captain.
He even qualified for the NCAA Tournament during his final year at the Naval Academy in 2004. As a result of his athletic exploits, Barikian was inducted into the Sterling Sports Hall of Fame.
After graduating from the Naval Academy, he served as a commissioned officer in the Marine Corps. After an initial three-month tour in Iraq, he served as an adviser to the Iraqi military at Lake Tharthar, just north of Fallujah.
He worked as a logistics officer, where his Marine unit was responsible for overseeing the training of soldiers in Iraq. He eventually did two tours.
When he was finished with active duty, Barikian spent two years training future officers in Virginia. He then spent the last four years teaching economics and personal finance at the Naval Academy, where he helped out with the wrestling team. He served as an officer representative, where he handled both administrative work, recruiting efforts, and actual coaching responsibilities.
Upon his return to South Jersey, his mind immediately turned towards re-entering the world of high school wrestling, a place where he found so much joy and success. He also feels as though he has something to offer.
“I have experience with different professions which allows me to provide guidance to kids who have different goals,” he said. “I need to help these athletes with their goals in life and their goals in wrestling.”
Barikian has been impressed since he met the school’s returning wrestlers, incoming freshmen and members of Kingsway’s junior program. “There’s a lot of talent in Kingsway,” he said.
“I spent over a decade in the service and spent time in Iraq,” Barikian said. “As the head coach for the high school wrestling program, I’m prepared for the unexpected, and I’m excited for this opportunity.”
Judging by his accolades, the wrestling community will be excited as well.