Central Is Reviving Wrestling

David Doyle selected as new head coach

New Wheeling Central wrestling coach David Doyle is congratulated by school President Lawrence E. Bandi, Athletics Director Donnie Murray and Principal Rebecca Sancomb.

WHEELING — There’s an old saying about striking while the iron’s hot and there’s no question that it’s hot right now at Wheeling Central Catholic High School. The school is boasting four state championships already this year and officials believe the time is right to bring back another storied program: wrestling.

“There are a lot of good reasons to bring back our wrestling program,” Athletics Director Donnie Murray said. “We are in the midst of an era where we are blessed with stellar athletes, so it only makes sense to offer them this opportunity.”

Football, basketball and baseball are among the programs that have seen great success the past several years at CCHS, which sparked an interest among current students and alumni with regard to wrestling. Once a highly successful program, wrestling at CCHS saw a decline in participation over the years. It was dropped and reinstated several times during the period from the mid-1970s to the mid-2000s.

“There was a decline in participation across the Ohio Valley and the state as other sports like hockey gained momentum,” Murray said. “It’s definitely easier to be part of a team than to be out there on a wrestling mat as an individual.”

Murray referenced the intangibles of the sport for one of the reasons the decision was made to bring it back. Things like discipline, mental toughness and character, none of which can be measured in wins and losses.

“Wrestling is a sport that requires more than just physical toughness and agility,” Murray said. “It requires toughness, self-discipline and a lot of sacrifice.”

“It’s just the competitor and his opponent with nowhere for either of them to hide. The upside is that it can be incredibly rewarding.”

Aside from the opportunity to highlight individual dominance and athleticism, a wrestling program can also serve as a means by which to stay active and conditioned. It is often used by athletes who play football and baseball or lacrosse to build strength and dexterity between those seasons. Murray sees this as an added bonus for CCHS athletes, many of whom participate in numerous sports.

“If you’re a football player and you also participate in a spring sport like baseball or lacrosse, wrestling is an ideal way to keep active and in shape during those winter months,” he said. “There’s no question it’s a great conditioning sport.”

CCHS has seen considerable success in its wrestling program over the years, touting several state winners and a dozen OVAC individual champions. Additionally, the Maroon Knights boast an OVAC championship team (1970), a former Mr. Mat Award Winner in Dan Doyle (1973) and an OVAC Wrestler of the Year in Zach Basich (2008).

Officials have tapped wrestling veteran and West Liberty University standout David Doyle to serve as the head coach. Doyle has more than 20 years of experience in wrestling, most recently serving as a middle school head coach in Ohio County.

“It an honor and with excitement that I accept the position as head wrestling coach at CCHS,” Doyle said. “I can’t help but feel a sense of pride that the opportunity comes from the school that started my family’s healthy obsession with the sport of wrestling.

“I look forward to resurrecting the legacy and success of the program for the Wheeling Central community.”

The plan is to jump right in during the 2018-2019 season by participating in invitational and tournament settings, as well as large-scale meets. Based upon participation, they will consider dual, triangular and quad meets. By 2020-2021, they expect to have grown to the point where they are ready, not only to participate in a wide variety of meets and tournaments, but also to host some. Doyle is confident the school has athletes who can compete immediately.

“We have an incredible pool of athletes, so I have no doubt that we’ll be competitive,” he said. “Wrestling demands the best from individuals and I believe that our student-athletes will rise to the challenge to reach their full potentials.”

In addition to the obvious benefits to the athletic program, CCHS views the addition of the program not only as a way to reinforce its core values, but also as an opportunity to offer more choices to students.

“Our goal every day is to emphasize to our students the importance of academics, athletics, faith, service and hard work,” said Lawrence E. Bandi, president of CCHS. “We want to offer as many avenues as possible for our students to realize these virtues.”

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