Lyberger brings Olentangy success
When it came time to selecting a wrestling coach, Olentangy High School athletics director Jay Wolfe couldn't pass up the opportunity to hire Dennis Lyberger, who has 33 years of coaching experience.
"Dennis has coached at Capital University and a number of different high school programs and he's had success everywhere he's been, so we feel pretty good about his experience level," Wolfe said.
Lyberger replaces Matt Hammons, who stepped down April 2 after nine seasons to spend more time with his son, Graham.
Hammons, who was the 2011 Division II Coach of the Year, a two-time district Coach of the Year and a five-time OCC-Cardinal Division Coach of the Year, guided the Braves to two district titles, seven sectional championships, five OCC titles and 87 dual match victories.
During his tenure, Olentangy had 28 state qualifiers and 12 state placers.
Lyberger wrestled for Stow for four seasons before graduating in 1973. He then wrestled for Ohio State for four seasons en route to earning a bachelor's degree in education in 1979.
"I started wrestling in seventh grade because our football coach made us do it," Lyberger said. "I had no idea I'd be involved in the sport for the next 40 years."
Lyberger made his coaching debut at Dublin in 1979, where he stayed for two seasons before coaching at Delaware from 1981-86.
After serving as an assistant coach at Capital University from 1986-90, he was the Crusaders' head coach from 1990-93. He left Capital to coach Independence from 1993-95 before teaching math and coaching wrestling at Thomas Worthington from 1995-2008.
In 2001, Thomas won an OCC championship as well as Division I sectional and district titles.
While continuing to teach at Thomas, Lyberger coached DeSales from 2008-12.
In 26 seasons as a high school coach, Lyberger's teams have produced 56 state qualifiers and 29 state placers and have had eight top-five finishes at the district level.
"I still teach math at Thomas Worthington and it's going to be hard with me not being in Olentangy's building, but I live five minutes away from the school and I'm looking forward to helping lead what's already a good program with a good tradition," he said. "I want to see our guys continue the success they've had at the state level. I want to get guys to state and I want us to do well in the state dual tournament, too."
Tharp named Braves softball coach
Alan Tharp has been hired as coach of the Olentangy softball team.
He replaces Marty Mearhoff, who resigned for personal reasons after six seasons.
Last spring, Olentangy finished 8-17 overall and placed seventh in the OCC-Cardinal at 3-10.
"I am very excited to be part of the Olentangy Braves softball program," Tharp said. "I've wanted to lead my own program for quite some time and I believe there is so much more to a program than what happens between the lines. Trust, communication, player development and giving back to the community are very important to the success of a program. Winning comes with good preparation, good program management and a strong support from the community. I believe we now have all the elements in place to be successful."
After serving as an assistant coach at Pickerington Central for seven seasons, Tharp worked as an assistant at Capital the last two years.
Capital went 23-15 in 2011 before going 21-15 last spring.
Tharp recently retired as director of administrative services after working for the School Employees Retirement System of Ohio for 31 years.
"I intend to create an atmosphere of fun competition and I will be fair to all participants," he said. "I'm very focused on developing strong fundamentals and having fun. I'm also very competitive and do not like (my teams) to beat ourselves. If we play hard, minimize mistakes and give 100 percent, then it's a successful game. I absolutely love an enthusiastic attitude with good sportsmanship. I'm looking forward to the season."
Lucas selected as Braves baseball coach
Ryan Lucas has been named coach of the Olentangy baseball team.
He replaces Steve Little, who retired after coaching 11 seasons at Olentangy and 26 seasons overall.
Last spring, Little led the Braves to 19-10 overall record, a Division I district title and their second consecutive OCC-Cardinal championship, which they won with a 10-4 mark.
"The program is already in great shape and a culture of winning has already been established, so I just want to make sure we carry on this program's great tradition," Lucas said. "We want our kids to become better students, better people and better baseball players, and I hope they can do that while the team continues winning."
Lucas played baseball and basketball at Hilliard Darby before graduating in 1999.
While taking courses at Columbus State and Ohio State, he served as an assistant boys basketball coach at Hilliard Davidson from 2000-05 and as the summer baseball coach at Darby from 2002-05.
Lucas later transferred to Xavier, where he earned a bachelor's degree in special education in 2006 and a master's degree in special education in 2008.
He had been serving at Liberty Township Lakota East as an assistant boys basketball coach since 2005-06 and as an assistant baseball coach since 2006.
In 2011, the Lakota East baseball team won the Division I state championship.
"I learned so much during my time in Cincinnati and it made me a better coach," Lucas said. "When we came to Columbus to play in the state baseball tournament in 2011, we used Olentangy's facilities and that's how I got to know Olentangy and it was one of the reasons I eventually applied for this job."
In 2008, Lucas was hired to work with students with special needs as an intervention specialist at Lakota East, where he worked until last spring when he was one of 151 teachers to be laid off because of budget cuts.
In May, he was hired as an intervention specialist at Olentangy and was named the Braves' baseball coach two months later.
"Obviously, I was upset when I lost my job, but everything has worked out great for our family and we're thrilled to have the opportunity to return to Columbus," Lucas said. "This is such a great school district and it reminds me of Lakota before Lakota ran into financial troubles.
"We want to be a program that takes pride in doing things the right way, on and off the field. We want our kids to excel to the best of their abilities in the classroom and play hard and for each other on the field."