New OHS wrestling coach can't believe fortune

Greg Mast
The Ottawa Herald

The new Ottawa High School wrestling coach could not believe his fortune.

Aryus Jones two months ago was walking across the stage to receive a degree in criminal justice from Fort Hays State University. He then took a position with the Topeka Police Department.

Ottawa wrestling coach Aryus Jones meets and talks to the wrestlers before their first summer workout together.

Fighting crime was not his passion. Wrestling was.

“What I love the most is being around people and wrestling,” Jones said. “I thought it was a perfect combination.”

Ottawa wrestling coach Aryus Jones demonstrates with senior Wyatt Sink a drill he wants the wrestlers to perform.

OHS wrestling coach Dalton Weidl resigned in May to take over the Ottawa University women’s program, leaving an opportunity to Jones.

“I did not know the job was an option to me,” he said. “I heard from family friends that the job came open. I thought, ‘why not.’ You should go after what you love.”

Jones, 22, has been involved with wrestling most of his life growing up in Junction City. He participated in the youth program, earning state titles. He was a four-time state qualifier, two-time state placer and state champion wrestler for Junction City High School. He spent the past four years on the mat for the FHSU Tigers.

Jones views the OHS wrestling program as a diamond getting ready to shine. The Cyclone boys are coming off a standout season where Ottawa went undefeated in Frontier League duals, won district and regional titles and had three wrestlers earn state medals. All 14 boys wrestlers advanced to the regional tourney and 10 to sub-state.

“I am blessed,” Jones said. “I was handed a team the previous coach did a great job. The foundation was already laid.”

Jones’ infectious energy in time could rub off on the Cyclones.

Senior Collin Creach has known Jones since his youth wrestling days.

“He and my brother wrestled together back in kids club, so I have known him for quite awhile,” Creach said. “He has always been a good wrestler. He was nice to me when I was little. I have always had a lot of respect for him.

“I have been telling them that he is excited to be a coach. This is what he wants to do the rest of his life. He is going to work us and push us because he wants it bad too. He is going to push us to the max. It will be good for a lot of us.”

Jones said his youthfula age is an advantage because he understands the younger generation.

“I am not too far removed from where they just were,” Jones said. “My ability to relate to them and let them know what I wish I knew when I was in their shoes a couple of years ago. I can [get on the mat] and wrestle with these guys.”

Creach said Jones can be the guy to lead Ottawa to big things.

“He is a really fun guy,” the OHS senior said. “He is always trying to bring up the spirits. He will always be here for us.”

Love of Wrestling

Anybody around Jones can see his love of the sport and he wants that to rub off on his team.

“It is about getting kids to love wrestling … love to compete because wrestling is hard,” Jones said. “It is a tough sport. If it was easy, everyone would do it. We are out here to have fun, but it is going to get hard and we are going to push through it together.”

The coach, who will also be a para at the high school, said getting to meet and learn about each wrestler is a priority.

“I am investing in them as people,” Jones said. “Kids notice when you are there for them.”

Jones said the mental aspect of wrestling is just as tough as the physical.

“Not everyone has won, but everyone has lost,” he said. “It is important to love winning, but it is just as important to hate losing. You’ve never truly won until you have lost. My style of coaching is I am not a big yeller. After a tough match, I will come and embrace you and talk to you about it. I will have to give them tough love sometimes.

“I believe 90 percent of coaching is done before the match.”

Jones has good memories of Ottawa.

“I had wrestled here at a Mat Masters Tournament, 6-and-under, in 2005,” he said. “I won the 6-and-under state title that year. I have nothing but good memories here. People are so welcoming. They want what is best for the community. The wrestling team is an asset to the community. It is a great place that has the right morale that I am looking for in term of family-oriented town. It was an awesome opportunity.”

Eyeing Gold

Creach is a three-time state placer, finishing third this past season at 138 pounds. Creach feels Jones can get him to a state championship level.

“I can get to the next level — state champion,” Creach, who won his 100th career match at state this past season, said. “Dalton really pushed me, but I did not pull through. He is going to push me too. We are going to win a state title this year.”

Jones said Creach is right on the cusp of being a state champ.

“He reminds me of myself,” Jones said. “He is a longer lanky guy and I am long and lanky. I can compliment his wrestling. My job is to push him. It can’t be a culture shock at state when you wrestle tough guys. You have to be comfortable being uncomfortable all the time. He is due a state title this year.”

Jones said the wrestling talent is high for the Cyclones.

“I would not be surprised if we have one or more individual state champion,” Jones said. “We are going to learn from each other. We are all wrestling.

“If you truly believe in yourself, treat yourself the right way with respect, the sky is the limit.”