HERSHEY - Northern Bedford's Jan Clark has been coaching for 29 years at Northern Bedford, Central and Tussey Mountain, and he's been named Mirror Coach of the Year five times.
Saturday, he announced he's stepping down as coach at Northern Bedford. Clark, who is 157-72 with the Panthers and coached them to a District 5 Tournament title, is calling it a retirement.
"I just feel it's time," Clark said. "I love practices and I love the rivalry with the other teams, but all the other little things you have to do I'm a little tired of it. There's no big reason. I just feel it's time to step aside and let someone else try it."
"I'd like him to be here for next year," junior 285-pounder Quinton Hixson said, "but he's been around awhile. I understand why he did it."
Clark, a three-time state champion at Northern Bedford from 1975 to 1977, admits he'll miss it when he's not coaching.
"I don't know how much I'll miss it," Clark said. "I may sit out a couple months and say 'I'm going to get in that room and wrestle these kids.' I don't really know that for sure. I want to be a part of it, but I don't want to go to practices every day.
"I think the biggest thing I'll miss is during match time picking out strategies what to do. I always felt that was my strong suit. I enjoy the kids getting after it and getting the best out of each kid. That's the challenge as a coach. When a kid does something wrong, you have to figure out a way to make him better.
"I can care less about winning and losing. It comes along with it. I just enjoyed the fact that these seniors got to win a district title because they deserved it."
A coach hasn't been named to replace him, but Clark is hoping assistant coach Brian Dutchcot gets the job.
He says he will be helping out whenever he can.
"I'm going to be around," Clark said. "It's not like I'm leaving Northern Bedford wrestling. I'm just not going to be the head coach anymore."
This past season was particularly challenging for Clark because of all the injuries and illness his team endured. The Panthers were without 215-pounder Joel Suter for most of February before he was cleared the day before the district tournament.
"I thought we were good enough to win the district duals, but we were without Joel [Suter]," Clark said. "At the beginning of the season, I'm sure we were the favorites."