School board to review program in two years
By Bert Lehman
The wrestling program at Clintonville High School will continue as is for two more years, at which point the number of participants in the program will be reviewed.
The Clintonville School Board unanimously approved that decision as its April 11 meeting.
The wrestling program was first discussed at the March 14 school board meeting. At that meeting Clintonville Superintendent Tom O’Toole told the board the wrestling program did not meet the minimum number of participants of 14, as set by school board policy.
O’Toole said when during the season numbers are counted can be tricky.
He said the wrestling program started the season with 12 wrestlers and finished with five.
O’Toole added that in his opinion, a well-rounded athletic program includes wrestling.
“We’d like to continue with wrestling but we can’t do it with five kids,” O’Toole said at the March 14 meeting.
March 29 meeting
Justin Mc Auly, head wrestling coach for Clintonville High School, addressed the board on March 29 about the school’s wrestling program.
He provided the board with statistics about the wrestling program over the past six years. Over that time span, Clintonville High School wrestlers earned 930 individual varsity wins, had a 47 percent individual varsity winning percentage, had 1,285 takedowns and 401 individual pins.
Also provided were a list of state qualifying wrestlers from the school over the past six years, as well as the number of participants per class from 2011 to 2019. The class of 2016 had seven wrestlers, while 2017 has one, 2018 has six and 2019 has three.
Mc Auly said the main reason he was addressing board, was to inform it about the number of participants in the youth wrestling program. He said the total number of participants in wrestling programs in Clintonville was 65 in the 2015-16 season. This included participants from pre-K through 12th grade.
He added that the youth program is excited about its relationship with Marion, as several Marion parents are interested in joining the youth wrestling program next season.
To increase numbers in the high school wrestling program, Mc Auly said it has to start at the youth level.
“You really need to know the sport to be successful,” Mc Auly said.
He added that increased numbers won’t happen overnight. His goal is to get 5-10 wrestlers at each grade level.
Better equipment would also be a plus for the program. He said the mats are beyond their life expectancy and unsafe for use. One mat is around 14 years old, another around 17 years old, while the other two are more than 30 years old. He said most schools purchase mats every 5-10 years.
Mc Auly said wrestling used to be in the school’s curriculum for physical education, but that is no longer the case, so students aren’t exposed to wrestling.
“Unless they pick up that registration form, or are invited to practice, they aren’t going to know anything about the sport, and it’s very difficult to recruit,” Mc Auly said.
Also at the March 29 meeting, several parents from the youth wrestling program spoke in support of wrestling at the high school level in Clintonville.
Clintonville School Board President Ben Huber said he wants to keep wrestling a sport at Clintonville High School.
Board member Jim Dins added that if it can be proven the youth program is strong, the board can wait for the numbers to increase at the high school level.
O’Toole said it is as important to recruit the parents of kids, as much as it is to recruit students to the wrestling program.
April 11 meeting
The future of the Clintonville High School wrestling program was an action item on the agenda for the April 11 school board meeting. The board discussed continuing the program with modifications and restrictions, as well as suspending the board policy on the minimum number of participants for one year.
Board member Dirk Weber suggested the board policy be suspended for two years. He said more than one year is needed to judge an increase in numbers.
“I think we go two years and we’ll know by then [if numbers are increasing],” Weber said.
The board decided to suspend the board policy for two years.