Wrestling returns to Western Reserve Academy

Published:

Staff report

Walk through the Murdough Athletic Center late in the afternoon and the unmistakable sounds of high school sports echo through the halls.

And as you near the Wortendyke Wrestling Room, some familiar ones once again fill the air.

Wrestling has returned to Western Reserve Academy.

After taking a year to evaluate and re-energize the program, Director of Athletics & Afternoon Programs Herb Haller made the decision to bring the varsity sport back this year.

"We are back up and running and we currently have 18 kids in the program," Haller said. "My goal was always to have a team and we have worked very hard to make this happen. Now it is my job to make sure we keep this going."

A renewed interest among students, along with a new coach in current parent Dave Farrell, helped to smooth the program's return.

"We had seven new students come in this year with wrestling experience and the returning students who had wrestled previously were fairly aggressive in recruiting others to participate in the program," Haller said. "So even though we have seven seniors on the team this year, I am confident that we will be able to replace them next year.

"Coach Farrell has been very involved with wrestling at the youth level in Hudson. His approach has been to try and create an environment where the kids can work hard, be challenged and learn about the sport. He is really creating an environment where the guys enjoy being on the mat."

Farrell, who has coached at the varsity level in a variety of sports for the past 11 years, started wrestling as a fifth grader in a Catholic Young Organization program. He was a member of the 1975 state champion Eastlake North wrestling team (one of the last public schools to win a state title in Division I, he is quick to point out) and is looking forward to working at WRA.

"We are approaching this as if it is a startup team," Farrell said during a recent practice. "I would have been thrilled with 12 guys, so I am very pleased we have 18. We have some rust, but we also have a few ninth graders with a wrestling history. We also have some pretty athletic kids, which can compensate for where we may be lacking in wrestling knowledge.

"So far it is going well -- these kids take charge and are very coachable, which means we can teach them how to wrestle. Our objective right now is to establish the wrestling team and get the word out to the students to build interest for the future.

"When we start winning down the road, it will be this group of kids who will get the credit."

With enough wrestlers to fill 12 of the 14 weight slots, Haller is busy working to find opportunities for the team to wrestle against other schools.

"We want to pick and choose the best opportunities to compete," he said. "We are looking to get the kids who are ready out there against other schools. The WRA Super Duels and the WRA Invitational won't occur this year, but we are working to bring them back for the 2013-14 school year."

The opportunity to recreate the wrestling program and work with his son Nick, a freshman, was "too good to pass up," Farrell said.

"My son has been wrestling since he was knee-high and I wanted to see him have a high school wrestling program," Farrell said. "I offered to help Herb with the program and I'm glad I took on the challenge.

"After all, it is better to be a head coach for wrestling than to have no wrestling at all."

Email: stowsports@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9444

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