With his first year as Lakeside’s varsity wrestling coach about to his the postseason, Dragons coach Jerry Brady has a lot to celebrate.
“The season can be summed up quite easily — great deal of success has been achieved through tremendous effort, a willingness to be coached and pure determination,” he said. “We’re far from done and we’ve accomplished a great deal.”
A big part of the celebrating comes from two of Brady’s powerhouse wrestlers; senior heavyweight Chuck Morgan and junior 195-pounder Kyle Conel. Both wresters remain undefeated (34-0) and recently won Premier Athletic Conference tournament championships, along with 113-pound junior, Tyler Newsome.
“Three wrestlers from Lakeside finished first in the PAC,” Brady said. “That’s quite an achievement for these boys and this school.”
Morgan and Conel also took first-place honors at the Howland Invitational, the Kenston Invitational and the Ashland Bookmaster. This year marked a special milestone for Morgan when he broke the Lakeside school record with 121 wins.
“Chuck graduates this year and the interest from colleges is immense,” Brady said. “Kent State, whose program is 15th in the country, is extremely interested in him. We’re visiting this week after the coach called and invited Chuck to watch a practice. Right now, members on Kent’s squad include a national champ and several All-Americans.
“It’s the elite, the best of the best. Chuck is big, strong and extremely fast. He is Division I material. He has a great future.”
Conel will be with Brady for another year.
“Kyle is one of the most coachable kids I know,” Brady said. “He’s a workhorse. He won’t quit until its perfect. He is smart, a phenomenal athlete and just unstoppable. On top of that he leads by example. He’s extremely respectful and sets a great example for the younger wrestlers. You couldn’t ask for a better kid.”
Brady is confident that the end of the season will bring big rewards for both wrestlers.
“I feel strongly that both Chuck and Kyle will be state qualifiers,” he said. “I expect to see them both on the podium.”
According to Intermat, Morgan is currently ranked second in the state and Conel is sixth.
Brady has already begun putting into place elements he feels are key to developing Lakeside’s program.
“Building from the ground up... that’s what I believe has to be done and that’s what I’m doing,” he said. “The Little Lizards program had over 70 kids this year. Eleven of those kids qualified for districts, three qualified for state.
“I have two great coaches working in that program, which is kindergarten (through) sixth grade. Rich Coup and Jake Reiner are doing a great job.
“Lakeside Junior High had a solid 40 kids. That team won the PAC with many boys who had never wrestled before this year. Coaches Kelly Prine and Jim Brady worked diligently with their team. Day in and day out they pushed them to become better. The boys responded and we have a championship team. I’m looking forward to coaching that group when they come to the high school.”
Brady has also taken wrestlers on road trips to Penn State, where Olympic silver medalist Ken Chertow holds clinics.
“That was a highlight for many of the kids,” Brady said. “I coordinated those trips around Penn State’s home matches. Not only did the kids get the experience of learning from an Olympian, they got to see one of the nation’s top wrestling programs in action.”
Most of all, Brady feels this program is on its way to greatness.
“I’ve got a great deal of talent coming at all levels,” he said. “I have an outstanding group of freshman, sophomores and juniors who will all be returning. The eighth-grade group is also strong.
“The necessary components with our youngest wrestlers are in place. Lakeside wrestling is going to continue to develop. It’s going to represent this district well. It’s an honor to be drawing the roadmap.”