COVENTRY TWP. Wrestling as inarguably been the most successful program on a state level in the history of Coventry athletics. Still, the five state championship banners hanging in the school’s sleek, modern new gym haven’t had any additions to their number in recent years, but the program’s new head coach is determined to change that.
"This is my first year and I was mentored by (former head coach) Chris DeShon, so I know the program really well and we have good coaches who are focused on training and getting our wrestlers ready for the postseason," first-year head coach Alex Poinar said. "The only reason I took this job is to get another state title banner on the wall here at Coventry."
Poinar, a 2011 graduate of Hoover High School, served as an assistant coach the past few seasons and knows the Coventry program well. He inherits a team with several solid returnees, led by returning state placer Joe Wright.
Poinar believes Wright is finally seeing his self-confidence on the mat match his wrestling ability and as a result, the wins are piling up. Miles Knuckles is another key member of the lineup and having competed individually with great success in Greco Roman wrestling during the offseason, he’s one of the competitors Poinar hopes will make a deep push in the postseason.
Add in experienced competitors including Liam Fagan, Caleb Shank and Austin Hinzman, and the Comets have a good nucleus on which to build.
The state championship banners themselves are links to the program’s history in its former home at the district’s middle school and other wrestling rooms of the past. Where the Comets train and compete now is worlds apart from those rooms, which often had heaters hanging overhead, a minimal amount of space and few modern conveniences.
Now, Coventry wrestling can enjoy the confines of a spacious new wrestling space at the district’s new high school, now in its second year. Poinar has seen the new wrestling room open up possibilities for his team and also, help spark more interest in the program.
"It’s really nice, the numbers on the team have gone up and we’re not worried about running out of space or guys running into the wall," Poinar said. "We also have a new strength and conditioning room that’s literally right next door when you walk out of the wrestling room."
Having those facilities at hand and having his first chance as a varsity head coach, Poinar knows there is a lot on his plate this season. He’s only a few years removed from being in the same spot in which his wrestlers now live and he’s eager to keep building the program with the hope of restoring it to the lofty levels it once occupied.
That climb will take time, but a resounded 54-12 win over Manchester last week and an eighth-place finish at the recent North Coast Classic tournament suggest that the Comets are making strides and finding their footing under their new head coach.
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