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Knights under direction of new head coach in ‘09

By Staff | Dec 9, 2009

For the first time in the history of the wresting program at Tyler Consolidated High School, wrestling coach and aficionado Larry Ritchie will not be charge, nor even present as the ’09 season progresses. After 14 years as the man behind the mat-work at Consolidated, Ritchie retired, handing the reigns over to one of the most capable high school wrestlers he coached, Chad Snider.

As a wrestler, Snider broke almost every record for the sport at the school in his career, including one which he still holds, the most wins. He placed at the WV State Wrestling tournament three times in high school, achieving one fifth and two fourth places. Snider, a 2002 graduate of Tyler Consolidated and a 2007 graduate of West Liberty University also had a respectable wrestling career for the Hilltoppers. Needless to say, this young coach knows the sport, and is eager to pass his knowledge and experience onto his new charges.

“I’m excited,” Snider said. “I’m looking forward to working with the boys and keeping the wrestling program going strong. We have some very good wrestlers on the team this year and I think we’re all anxious to get the season started.”

Last season, the Silver Knight wrestling program graduated a state champion at the 215 weight class in Cullen Grover, but returns several with experience, including runner up to the state champion at the 140 weight class, Nate Taylor.

Grover’s state championship was only the second such award in Tyler Consolidated history and Taylor’s second place finish was a first for the program.

Taylor’s strength and quickness on the mat will make him one to watch this season as he strives to return to the state tournament. Another Knight to pay attention to will be senior Brody Northcraft, wrestling at 160. Northcraft returns with vast experience on the mat and should he be fortunate enough to escape injury, will look to end his high school career with a trip to the state as well.

Other seniors on the team include Brandon Loy (160), Brandon Grimes(171), James Wagoner (189), Andrew VanCamp (215), and Giovanni Forner dos Santos (145).

Five juniors will fill weight classes including: Matt Stevens (125), Nathan Bolen (135), Calvin McCune (140), Adam Cross (189), and John Epsilantis (heavyweight).

Sophomores John Brosky and Greg McDougle will see time on the mats this season, with Brosky wrestling at 112 and McDougle vying for a spot in the 189 weight class.

Four freshmen join the team: Joe Henthorn (119), Levi Henderson (130), Tommy Keller (130), and Dustin Tawney (160).

“We don’t have quite enough guys to fill every weight class, but we’re doing okay,” Snider said. “We’re deep at a couple of weights, and we’ll have to wrestle off every other week or so to see who will compete at the meets the but the in-house competition will be good for us.”

“We have some good young talent this year and a couple of kids with little or no experience, but all of them have been putting in the practice time and working hard.”

As for his style of coaching, Snider says he plans on working on strength training one-on-one with the wrestlers in the weight room. “We’ll be doing lots of drills and live wrestling,” he said. “We also plan on filming our matches and watching and critiquing them both as a team and one-on-one with the wrestlers.”

Assisting Snider with coaching duties this season will be Steven Blake, another former high school wrestler, albeit from Cameron High School; and former Knight wrestler, Eric McKeever, the coach of Tyler Consolidated Middle School’s wrestling program.

The team will also be assisted by two mat-maids this season, Jennifer Yost and Ashlea Loy.

On Dec. 19 the Silver Knight wrestlers will host their annual “Wrestle-About” at the high school and are looking for volunteers to help out during the day long tournament. Anyone willing to support the team by assisting at the tournament should call the high school for more information.

The Knights first outing of the year will be on Dec. 12 when they travel to Ritchie County to take part in the tournament, which they won last year.