John Childress called being offered the Dallastown wrestling head coach position "humbling." Childress, a 1983 graduate of the school, was approved as coach in early September by the school's board of education.
Last winter, Childress served as an assistant at the junior high level.
"It was humbling because the coaches before me, (Matt Striebig), (Dave) Gable and (Bill) Bence, I highly respect those guys," said Childress, who wrestled for Bence. "I don't anticipate on having their expertise, but I will be surrounding myself with plenty of expertise in the future."
One of those coaches he intends to lean upon is Rob Jansen, who also wrestled at Dallastown and York College. Jansen was the head coach last season at the junior high level. Childress, a financial analyst for WellSpan, said he has another assistant in mind who has yet to be board approved and expects an increase in volunteers to help this winter.
That help could be crucial for a program undergoing a sudden shift at the top after years of little change. Childress will be just the fourth wrestling coach at Dallastown since 1970, starting with Bence.
The latest change from Striebig to Childress comes off the heels of Striebig’s resignation following last season. Afterward, a wrestler said he was a victim of hazing. The district said Striebig’s resignation was not related a January disorderly conduct citation related to the alleged hazing. Childress on Saturday declined comment on that situation.
The Wildcats finished 8-2 in a tough YAIAA Division I that included 9-1 South Western and champion Spring Grove, which won its fifth straight Section V team title and made the PIAA team championships. Childress said he wants the type of team unity seen at those programs.
"When you watch that team wrestle, you see that," Childress said. "Winning like they have been in the last few years sort of brings that together. Yeah I see that in those teams -- where they're focused on their teammates and they want to pick each other up. It's not that we don't have that, I want to see more of that."
Childress said he will lean heavily on his seniors to set that mindset. He expects seven to eight on this winter's roster. The Wildcats graduated YAIAA all-stars Cooper Deller and Tanner Druck, two grapplers with 100 career wins, but they return a third in Rodney Sunday.
Sunday reached 100 career victories in March at Giant Center during the PIAA Wrestling Championships. Now a 126-pound senior, Sunday should be joined by another returning all-star in 138-pounder Wes Hoover.
The Dallastown wrestling job was one of four head coaching vacancies at the school this spring. The school has yet to announce hiring for baseball and boys' soccer, but Childress' promotion follows that of girls' soccer coach Morgan Mickley.
In both cases, Dallastown hired a graduate of its school.