The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

May 7, 2013

EHS wrestling finds its new coach

By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Enid turned back the clock in naming its new head wrestling coach.

Cory Clayton, who coached the Plainsmen from 1994-99 before a highly-successful tenure at Union, was named to replace Jory Dick at the EHS helm Tuesday.

Clayton, who has been serving as a volunteer coach the past three years, will continue in his job as manager of Advanced Water Systems.

“I’m sure I will have a lot less free time, but I’ve worked it out where I can still be at practice and still handle my assigned duties,’’ Clayton said. “I’m pretty excited. It’s going to be a lot of fun and it’s a great opportunity.’’

Clayton led Union to a state dual championship in 2007, and a state championship in 2009 before leaving coaching to enter private business.

He returned to Enid a year later to join Advanced Water Systems.

“We couldn’t be any happier about this,’’ said Steve Chard, EHS boys athletic coordinator.

Trent Holland will remain as Clayton’s chief assistant and Tony Peters will remain as the middle school-junior high coach. Holland coached under Clayton his first tenure here.

“We have a great personal relationship,’’ Clayton said. “We both have grown up some since then. Tony Peters is a phenomenal coach. We have the people in place to keep the program headed in the right direction.’’

Clayton said he wanted to continue the growth the program had under Jory Dick, who resigned recently to enter private business.

“I hated to see him go,’’ Clayton said, “but I understand how those things work. I’ve done the same thing in my career path. Now, I’m in the position to do both. I didn’t have to think whether I wanted to do it. I had to think whether it would be possible to do both, and it worked out.’’

Clayton and Dick have similar philosophies. Both want their wrestlers to set high goals and work hard enough to achieve them.

“We want to raise expectations,’’ he said. “Coach Dick put the cornerstones in place. I’ll keep working to do that.’’

Clayton started the Mid-America wrestling tournament while at Union. That tournament will move to Enid in December.

It will bring together teams, not only from Oklahoma, but Texas, Kansas and Louisiana.

“We want to have best teams in the Midwest here,’’ Clayton said. “That will attract teams from the West and East coasts. This will expose our kids to a national level of wrestling.’’

Like Dick, his No. 1 goal is to attract more kids to the sport from the grade school level up.

“The challenges are the same when I first came here,’’ Clayton said. “The more kids, the more parents you can get involved, the more enthusiasm you will have for the sport of wrestling.’’

Clayton said he’s a much more mature coach now than when he left.

“I’ve learned a lot since then,’’ he said. “I’m still learning. The most important thing about my coaching style is to teach the character and qualities it takes to being successful.’’

He said the key to success is getting wrestlers to establish goals and have a strong enough work ethic to stick to that commitment.

“We don’t focus so much on the wins and the losses as we do to what we can do to reach our full potential,’’ he said.

“If you reach your full potential, you can be a force to be reckoned with. If do you that, the wins and losses take care of themselves. You want to provide opportunities for kids to get better so they want to achieve their goals.’’

Clayton, a Norman native, wrestled for Oklahoma State’s 1994 national championship team. He learned commitment from OSU coach John Smith.

“I saw how they balanced wrestling with the other things in life,’’ Clayton said. “If you don’t have the other things, it’s hard to reach that level of success in wrestling.’’

Wrestling for OSU, he said, gave him a number of connections he can draw on, including Smith and Wyoming coach Mark Branch.

“I had always wanted to be a coach,’’ Clayton said. “My goal was to learn as much as I could. I found I didn’t know as much as I thought. It was just an incredible opportunity to be around wrestlers of that level. I picked up so much.’’

He is excited about coaching his son, Keegan, who came within a win of qualifying for state at 152 pounds. EHS only graduated three seniors from this year’s team.

“I’m sure how excited he is about it,’’ Clayton said with a smile. “I’ve coached him in everything he’s done his whole life, but never as a head coach. There are some things that I can do as a coach to mentor him that he would be more receptive to than just as a dad.’’

Clayton said he has a good comfort level with the wrestlers as both a coach and Clayton’s father.

“Hopefully, I can take that relationship to the next level and be successful,’’ he said. “It’s not so much the Xs and Os as it is the values I can instill in them.’’

EHS returns two state qualifiers in 126-pounder Billy Grothe and 145-pounder Anthony Gonzalez. Clayton said he hopes both have the goal of being a state placer or champion.