Lane: Wrestling provides many opportunities for WF students

Greg Mast
The Ottawa Herald

The new West Franklin wrestling program is all about opportunity and growth.

West Franklin wrestling coach Brent Lane is a veteran coach and plans to build a foundation first and teach life lessons.

“We have kids roaming our halls that wrestling will benefit,” Lane said. “Just to give them another opportunity — another option — if they don’t want to play [basketball].

“I am fan that middle students should try every sport that they possibly could try to see what interested them the best. The more our kids are involved in activities, the better success they have in the classroom. Not to mention, the life lessons they learn that they can carry for the rest of their life.”

Lane will head up the district’s wrestling program from the kids club to the  middle school and high school.

“Starting a new program, it is important to have a youth program as well,” he said. “I will be putting in as much time into that as I do into the high school and middle school.”

Lane’s work has just begun. He has been on the recruiting trail and worked with a group of high school prospects one hour a week during June. He put on a camp recently for the youth to introduce the sport.

“To try something new is a big leap,” Lane said. “We have quite a few high school boys that are interested. The connection between football and wrestling is great. We had a few (girls) show up. What the state of Kansas has done in making girls wrestling an official sport two years ago has done wonders for the sport of wrestling. Girls can pick up the sport quickly and compete successfully quickly. It is not you have to wrestle your whole life to be successful.”

Lane said starting from the ground floor has its advantages.

“They won’t bring bad habits,” he said. “The interesting thing about wrestling is there are hundreds of different moves and hundreds of different counters. You can teach things one way and another way. You want to teach kids good habits. If we can develop good habits and put kids in position to be successful that is going to be the goal.”

Perfect Time

Lane said this was the right time for him personally and for the district to start the program. Lane’s son, Kael, just graduated from high school.

“I did not want to take up a program and miss his [activities],” Lane said. “You have to be a dad first.”

The other big part was the completion of the $13 million bond issue, which upgraded the facilities so activities such as wrestling could be added.

“The school board was open [to the idea],” Lane said. “I put together a comprehensive plan on what all they would need. They were gung-ho. They were excited about it. They saw the potential and the opportunity. To get that passed was a good start for us.”

Lane has been a wrestling official for the past few years, officiating tournaments year round.

“For me to step away from officiating and into coaching, that shows how much I personally think wrestling will give our kids and help make them successful,” Lane said.

Lane said he will take it a step at a time and not overwhelm the inexperienced wrestlers.

“It is about having a plan and sticking to it,” he said. “Introducing the program was the first step. Now I am talking to kids to try it. My motto is to ‘break through.’ We want to be realistic.”

Lane said wrestling has evolved and is no longer a sport where kids have to cut weight.

“I will never ever ask a kid to cut weight,” he said. “One of my [things] will be to teach kids how to manage their weight.  Eating the right foods at the right times and watching their diet.”

Coaching Career

Lane started his wrestling coaching career in 1999 at Salina South where he built the program into a state contender. His teams finished third and fourth at the state tournament and had several individual champs.

He then built the Fredonia program and coached a four-time state champ.

“If kids buy into it, work hard and put in the effort, there is a path to success,” Lane said.

Lane found positive role models and those with a passion for wrestling to help build the program. His assistants are Caleb Parenti, Jay Wieneke and Paige Weidner.

Parenti is a former Ottawa Mat Master and Ottawa High School wrestler. Wieneke is a lifer in wrestling, starting as a kid and has been coaching kids wrestling for many years.

“We have the right people to work with kids and help make them successful,” Lane said. “[Jay] is so positive with everybody. Our kids needs to be around people like that.”

He recruited Weidner because of her relationship with the female students.

“She knows nothing about wrestling,” Lane said. “I saw her in the hallway and told her I needed a girls wrestling coach. She eventually said she would do it. She is a positive person. The kids like her and respect her. You don’t have to know wrestling to coach it. You need good positive people cheerleaders that want to see kids succeed. Caleb and Paige are that kind of people.”