Dublin Villager

Wrestling

Scioto, Jerome name coaches

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Adam Huddle recognized it was an opportunity he had to consider. Not only does he live close to Dublin Scioto High School, but he intends to send his children there.

However, he also knew that if he was given the chance to become the Irish's wrestling coach, he would have to say goodbye to a program that he helped build the last eight seasons, including the past seven as head coach, in Jerome.

"It was tough ... to make the jump away from that," Huddle said. "It was very hard to tell the kids because I knew what we had accomplished as a program during that time. At the same time, I think this is the best decision for my family down the road."

Pending school board approval, Huddle will take over a Scioto program that has had at least one state qualifier each season since the school opened in 1995. Among the Irish's state qualifiers was 2010 graduate Randy Languis, who won the Division I state title at 140 pounds as a senior and competed for Ohio State the past four seasons.

Huddle replaces Aaron McKenzie, who resigned after three seasons with the Irish.

Taking over as coach at Jerome is Troy Smith, who coached Chillicothe for three seasons (2009-12) before moving to central Ohio.

In moving to Scioto, Huddle is reunited with athletics director Nick Magistrale, who also hired Huddle when he held the same position at Jerome.

"I had actually called him about another candidate who had listed Adam as a reference, and that's when he expressed some interest in the job," Magistrale said. "I know he talked about this being the right decision for his family.

"He lives close to the school. He wants to send his kids here, and I know that he will be a guy who's always going to be around the weight room and other activities."

Last season, Scioto finished 22nd (24 points) in the Division I district tournament behind champion Marysville (147) as 37 teams scored and placed eighth (73) in the 11-team sectional at Watkins Memorial behind champion Delaware (248.5).

The Irish, who did not compete in the state team tournament, went 1-6 in the OCC-Cardinal Division to finish seventh, behind Westerville North (7-0), Hilliard Bradley (6-1), Hilliard Darby (5-2), Jerome (4-3), Westerville Central (3-4) and Westerville South (2-5) and ahead of Canal Winchester (0-7).

Scioto, which had only 20 athletes in its program last season, had one state qualifier in Brennen Sawicki, who went 0-2 at heavyweight to finish 19-5.

Sawicki is expected to return this winter for his senior season. The list of expected returnees also includes Ras Lumpkins, who went 33-13 and was a district qualifier at 220 as a sophomore last season.

Huddle's top priority this summer is to increase the program's numbers.

"We've reached out to the football coaches and they've brought me into the weight room to be visible to the kids," Huddle said. "I'm thankful they've allowed me to do that. We fought the numbers problem for years at Jerome, but we went from (having) 13 kids (in the 2007-08 season) to 25 or 26 by the time I left."

Smith also knows what it is like to take over a program struggling with low numbers.

During his tenure at Chillicothe, he increased the Cavaliers' numbers by encouraging more boys to participate in the middle school and youth programs.

"I wasn't there long enough to see the kids prosper," Smith said. "We had a state placer who was coming up at the time. I left for the Columbus area for a teaching position and personal reasons."

Smith, a Teays Valley graduate who wrestled for the University of Mount Union, teaches at a charter school in the area. He is hoping to get a teaching position in the Dublin school district so that he can "be in the hallways" to recruit wrestlers.

Last season, Jerome tied Reynoldsburg for 23rd (23) at district and finished sixth (98.5) in the 11-team sectional at Marysville behind champion Marysville (218.5). It placed fourth in the OCC-Cardinal and did not compete in the state team tournament.

The Celtics expect to return four district qualifiers in Justin Chon (145), Liam Dunlea (120), Owen Stein (152) and Seth Transue (106), who was a state alternate. Dunlea and Stein are seniors and Chon and Transue are juniors.

"We've got a solid group of wrestlers coming back," Smith said. "They're on club teams and they've been showing up at open mats. It shows they have the desire to be an elite team. I'm really excited for the opportunity to be at Dublin Jerome."

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