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MILLERSBURG -- Several factors have led up to his decision to turn the wrestling program that he helped build into a recognized state power over to any one of the legion of qualified coaches waiting in the wings.
"It's time," Jeff Woods said. "I think 27 years is long enough. I've got enough guys in place that can take it over. My children are done. And, I probably owe it to my family to be around a little more." Woods also is the principal at West Holmes Middle School.
Wrestling at West Holmes has been a family affair for Woods, as he coached both his sons, one a senior this year, and he is also guiding his nephew through the program.
"Ever since I started, the kids have come around, and they've gone with us everywhere we went," Woods said. "My wife (Renee) has been a great supporter and very supportive of everything we do.
"Now the kids are done, Cole's over at Ashland and I'd like to see him a bit," Woods continued. "And Cody's supposed to be heading there the end of this year. We're at a point where we thought this might be a good time to step out."
Looking back at the number of great wrestlers and state qualifiers they have produced over the years, as well as some other tough-luck kids who busted their tails in the wrestling room but weren't able to move on to the next level for one reason or another, one name stands out among the rest.
"Colt Sponseller sets the standard, a three-time state champion. He's a once-in-a-lifetime type kid," Woods said. "But I've had a multitude of great wrestlers here; we've had three or four four-time state qualifiers, we've been very fortunate with the wrestlers we've had."
The coach reaffirmed that sentiment.
"We've been very blessed with the number of great kids coming through our program," Woods said. "I'd like to think I continued a program that Lindy Rogers got going. Hopefully we made Holmes County proud with what we did.
"It's not all about wins and losses," he continued. "I see a lot of former wrestlers in the community now, married, with good jobs, and I take away that maybe wrestling got them there. I've been very fortunate to work with a lot of good coaches and some great teams."
One of Woods' proteges, assistant wrestling coach Scott Vaughn, is a physical education teacher at the middle school who believes he is ready to follow in his mentor's footsteps.
"I started wrestling in his first year here in the Attack Team program," Vaughn said. "He's kind of been like a father figure to me, since he was my coach in the youth program all the way through high school. He's a huge mentor for me. It's been kind of cool to come back and work under him the past few years. I learned a lot from him being a wrestler, and now coaching with him, I get to see a lot of the behind-the-scenes things I wouldn't have seen as a wrestler."
Vaughn coached at Manchester, Austintown Fitch and was head coach at Ravenna Southeast before returning to his roots at West Holmes.
Woods feels his time in the principal's office at West Holmes Middle School is far more productive and meaningful in the lives of students today.
"I'm at the point in my life where I think I can help more kids from this office than I can on the wrestling mat," the Principal said. "I can't physically do what I used to do on the mat, and that bothers the heck out of me. But I still like walking upright.
"I truly enjoyed my time as a wrestling coach," he added. "And right now, my principal's job is requiring my full attention. It's time."
Woods says he hopes half a dozen kids on this year's team can finish the year in Columbus.
"This season has gone up and done," he said. "We had a great night at the state duals. I got kids like Jake Mullet, who pinned the No. 1 kid in our district last night.
"You just never know," Woods continued. "We've got a lot of potential, it just depends on if the bracket gods are smiling on us. Every year it seems we get somebody down there we weren't expecting, and somebody we were expecting to go, doesn't. That's a tough one to predict."
Reporter Kevin Lynch can be reached at 330-674-5676 or firstname.lastname@example.org.