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Lazor, Ridge enjoy year filled with success

Mirror wrestling coach of the year

March 17, 2013
By Todd Irwin (tirwin@altoonamirror.com) , The Altoona Mirror

While most wrestling fans have stopped focusing on the sport and started getting ready for spring sports, or spring in general considering how long winter seemed, Chestnut Ridge coach Greg Lazor hasn't slowed down all that much.

When you're the coach of a very successful program, there's always next season and the preparation that goes with it.

"We've already started handing out [offseason] tournament papers," Lazor said. "We're doing some youth practices, getting our team camps planned and our Lycoming College camp planned. We're thinking about who needs to be where and getting our weightlifting program set. We have a few back at it already, but in another week or two, we'll have them all going again.

"It's still a busy part of the year, but it's a little relief. We get to relax a little bit and think about our plans to try to get back at it again next year."

It was a hectic and stressful last month or two of the season for Lazor, especially considering he's about to become a father for the third time. He and his wife, Sandra, are expecting the baby to come at any time. As of Thursday, she still hadn't given birth.

In fact, she was at the photo shoot for the Mirror's 30th annual all-star team. Her husband was named Mirror Coach of the Year for the second straight season.

"It wasn't the best-timed pregnancy I guess," he said laughing. "My wife has been absolutely awesome throughout the whole thing. She's helped with all of the tournaments and everything else, and she has been very supportive. It made it worrisome every time my phone went off at states, and I was wondering if I needed to go down the turnpike or not."

The Lazors didn't know the gender of the child because Sandra wanted it to be a surprise.

"I guess maybe the way it's holding on in there and won't come out, it's a boy," Greg said. "Strong grip, I'm hoping. We can always add to the program."

The program doesn't need many additions right now because for the last two years, it's been on a roll. Ridge followed up a 26-6 2011-12 season with a 25-3 mark this year. The Lions won the District 5 Duals for the first time and finished fourth at the PIAA Duals, which is the best finish for an area team since Bedford did it in 2009.

Then they won the District 5 Tournament for the second straight year, finished fifth at the Southwest Regional and had two placewinners at the PIAA Class AA Championships in 170-pounder Tyler Dibert and 285-pounder Austin Buttry.

"We thought we'd be tough this year," Lazor said. "It was one of the most balanced lineups I've seen in quite some time. It was pretty hard to find a weak spot. It was nice that we had a couple guys step up and win state medals this year, and we had another guy [Dan Albright] 9 seconds from medaling. So, not only are we starting to get a strong dual team, we're starting to get a strong tournament team."

Ridge's success is providing Lazor with deserved recognition. He was named District 5 Coach of the Year for the second straight year, and then he got shocked at states when he was given the PIAA Class AA Coach of the Year award. Only two other area coaches, Bedford's Bill Creps in 1986 and Bedford's Ed Clark in 1974, have ever received the award.

For Lazor, who has a five-year record of 102-28 at Ridge, the award is still sinking in.

"It was a great surprise, obviously, and it is again great recognition for our program," he said. "I think about it sometimes, and I kind of laugh about it because it was such a surprise. It's obviously a great honor, and I'm very, very pleased to be coach of the year."

That kind of makes the Mirror Coach of the Year seem kind of small, but Lazor was appreciative and deflected some of the credit.

"It means a lot for our program," he said. "It means we're doing some things that getting recognized. We've got great support. We have some of the best coaching assistants who put a lot of time in, a lot of effort and a do a lot for our program from varsity to youth. Our administration is very supportive, so that helps us out. It means a lot for the program that we see things are going the right way."

"He brings a lot to the program," said Dibert, a three-time Mirror all-star. "His practices are different from what they have been before from what I've heard. It's more of a family thing. I know a lot of the guys look up to him as a father figure, and he's just an awesome coach. He's a really intense coach in practice, but a lot of good coaches are."

Dibert and Albright are among a seven-man senior group that will graduate and leave holes to fill in the Ridge lineup for next year.

"We're losing a lot of studs up top," Lazor said. "Hopefully, we get some guys to grow into those weights, grow in the right manner through the weight room. We've got a lot of strong youth coming up. They just need to grow."

 
 
 

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