The sport of wrestling will return to varsity status at Fairbanks High School next winter.
Now, the search is on for a new head coach.
FHS athletic director Larry Morris said there are feelers out for candidates to guide the Panthers during their first season back as a varsity sport.
Wrestling is an activity that has gone through fits and starts for about two decades at the school.
“We’ve had an interest in wrestling for about 20 years,” said Morris. “We’ve started and stopped it on several occasions and I really can’t pinpoint why.
“There have just been times when we’ve had groups of athletes that have had more of a wrestling interest.”
The program has operated for the past three years on the club level under the direction of Eric Chippas, who is also on the district’s middle school football coaching staff.
Morris said that Chippas plans to remain with the mat program on a volunteer basis to handle administrative duties.
The program originally began with Larry Albanese as the head coach back in the late 1990s.
Bob Williams, who coached Marysville High School’s mat program for 17 years, also served as FHS’ head coach in the early 2000s.
“I think this is the third time that we’ve gone the club-varsity-club route,” said Morris. “We hope to get this stabilized as a varsity sport and maintain it as well.”
The Panther roster numbered 18 last winter on a club level. Morris said he feels the program can maintain that type of strength as a varsity sport.
“We really need to accelerate our middle school numbers, but we want to get the high school program stabilized first.
“I think the base is there for us to do that.”
Morris originally listed the end of July as the deadline for coaching candidate applications.
However, he said that will probably have to be extended until after the start of the 2018-19 academic year next month.
“We’ll get fall sports going and then work on wrestling after that,” said Morris.
“I would prefer hiring someone with previous head coaching experience, but I’m willing to sit down and talk to anyone who would like to take up this challenge.
“We want someone who can start at the ground level for varsity and get it going.”
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