Lazor keeps Ridge program at high level

Chestnut Ridge Greg Lazor has turned the Chestnut Ridge wrestling program into a state power. The current run the Lions are one can be characterized as a dynasty.

Lazor has been coaching at Ridge for 10 years, and he’s led the Lions to a 187-47 record, seven straight District 5 Tournament titles and six straight District 5 Duals championships. He’s been voted District 5 Coach of the Year seven straight years.

Lazor led the Lions to a 16-3 record, a Southwest Regional title and a third-place finish at the PIAA Duals.

He’s also making a habit of being named the Mirror Coach of the Year. He’s been named the 2017-18 Mirror Coach of the Year, the fifth time in the last seven years he’s gotten the recognition.

“It’s an honor,” Lazor said. “Any time you get recognized in the area as big as this, and you can get an award like this, it’s an honor to be named Coach of the Year. I’m very thankful for it.”

“I think he deserves it,” said senior Justin McCoy, who is the Mirror Co-Wrestler of the Year. “He’s definitely made me a lot better, made so many kids a lot better and got our team to where we can succeed. I think he’s a great coach.”

It was a magical year for the Lions, who routed most of their opponents in dual meets, won the Thomas Chevrolet Tournament and had a program record eight District 5 champions and 13 Southwest Regional qualifiers.

“I thought we had a great year,” Lazor said. “We knew we had a solid lineup from top to bottom. As a dual team, we thought we’d be real tough to beat. We had some injuries and some guys that didn’t come out at the beginning of the year that kind of threw us for a loop to where we had to figure some things out. But a testament to our guys, not one time did they ever fold, not one time did they ever ponder ‘What if,’ or make an excuse.”

The highlight of the season was probably the third-place finish at the PIAA Duals.

“These guys would have traded state medals for team medals,” Lazor said. “They really wanted a team medal more than anything else this year. Winning a gold would be awesome, but it’s kind of stacked against you when you get down there. They wrestle so much better when the team aspect is on the line than it is just for them to get a victory for themselves.”

How do you follow up a year like this? There will be a lot of new faces in the lineup next year, but Ridge will still have three-time state medalist Jared McGill.

“It’s going to be interesting,” Lazor said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun. We’re graduating a lot of starters. We have to fill in everything from 126 to about 160, with McGill going back up (in weight). But we’ve got some junior high guys coming up, and hopefully some of those guys grow a little bit into those spots. They have some experience to them, and they’re willing to work.”

“There’s lot of young kids,” McCoy said, “and every year, he builds them up and makes kids a lot better, makes kids work a lot harder than they did in junior high. I think we’ll have no problem next year.”

How tough will it be without McCoy, a state champion as a junior and runner-up this season?

“It will be about impossible,” Lazor said. “From inside the room and outside of the room, he’s a guy that set the bar very high in a lot of people’s eyes and hearts. You can never think someone else is going to be him, but we have a bunch of other young guys who have really good morals and leadership abilities.”

A younger team will present a challenge to Lazor and his coaching staff.

“You have guys that you work with for four years, and you know what you’re going to get from them if you put them in certain situations,” Lazor said. “We’re losing McCoy, one of the best leaders we’ve ever had. With McGill and McCoy, those two have been kind of the face of the program for quite some time.”