Soon to be one of the youngest head coaches in the OCC, Brent Shannon is looking forward to that challenge as the new leader of the Westland High School baseball program.

Shannon, who will turn 24 on July 20, will replace Neil Bittel, pending school board approval.

Bittel stepped down after four seasons to accept a teaching position at Thomas Worthington.

Shannon was the first base coach under Bittel this spring.

"It's definitely a challenge, but it also impacts the players as well," Shannon said of his age. "I'm able to go out there and show them what I want them to do and if they buy in there's no reason why we can't be successful."

Shannon is a 2013 graduate of Greenfield McClain, where he was a middle infielder and also played basketball. He also is a 2017 graduate of Capital University, where he played baseball and received a bachelor's degree in special education.

He was hired as an intervention specialist last year at Westland and during the interview process was invited to accept a vacant assistant coach position with the baseball program.

Shannon has been active with his new team during the offseason as players have attended voluntary conditioning and practice sessions.

"It's nice to see these kids out here, taking one of those days out of their summers to work on the field and get better one step at a time," Shannon said. "Building this program would mean the world to me. I have some of these kids in class and they want to win. If they want to put the work in, we're going to be a winner."

Billy Holland, who will be a senior, is excited about working more with Shannon.

"I know what to expect from coach Shannon," Holland said. "I expect him to be a good coach (and) help out whatever he sees that we need throughout games and throughout practices."

Westland finished 17-87 under Bittel, including 4-20 overall and 0-15 in the OCC-Central Division this spring.

Bittel said Shannon is ready to lead the program.

"One of things I talked about with (athletics director) Mike George is he's young, but so are a lot of coaches when they first get involved," Bittel said. "I was young when I took my first head coaching job and sometimes you learn by getting thrown into the fire. ... The kids really love him and he's energetic."

Allerding to take over wrestling team

The wrestling team also will have a new coach, pending school board approval.

Brent Allerding will replace Mark Niemann, who stepped down after one season to support his ailing father, Rich, who died May 9.

Allerding, 27, also will serve as an assistant football coach under first-year coach Rick Rios. He was an assistant coach under Rios the past three seasons at Loudonville.

"I'm looking forward to it. I can't wait to get started," said Allerding, who also was an assistant wrestling coach at Loudon-ville the past three seasons.

Allerding will be an intervention specialist at Westland. He is a 2010 graduate of Loudonville, where he competed in wrestling and football, and a 2014 graduate of Ohio Dominican, where he played football.

Under Niemann, Westland qualified three wrestlers for the Division I district tournament last season and nearly had a state qualifier in Andrew Sherman, who finished sixth at 182 pounds as the top four advanced to state.

The Cougars went 0-5 in the OCC-Central.

"I want (our athletes) to get better every day, that's our motto," Allerding said. "We want to focus on the learning and see if we can turn it around. They're definitely hungry."

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

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