Ridge wrestling coach Lazor announces resignation

Greg Lazor has turned the Chestnut Ridge wrestling program into a state power since he became the head coach 11 seasons ago.

On Monday, Lazor, who has been named the Altoona Mirror’s Coach of the Year six times, including the 2018-19 season, stunningly announced his resignation publicly.

The 43-year-old Lazor and his wife, Sandra, have three children: Gavin, 13, Grace, 11, and Grant, 6. Lazor cited wanting to spend more time this his kids in the reason for stepping down.

“I have a 6-year-old boy, an 11-year-old girl and a 13-year-old boy, and they’re all in different sports, and I was coaching a different sport from any of them,” Lazor said. “I was missing too many things, missing their games and tournaments, and it was just getting to be too much. I was missing out on some of their childhood.

“In all reality, I was thinking I’d (coach wrestling) until my son was 8 years old. I don’t know. It just started to hurt too much when I missed this stuff. In the last couple months, I started talking to (assistant coaches Pat) Berzonski and (Josh) Deputy, and getting their thoughts, and seeing if they were going to be sticking with it. I knew I had a staff that if I stepped down could keep everything going without missing a beat.”

Lazor said he’ll be a volunteer coach, particularly with the elementary program.

Lazor, who was an assistant under Jim Clark for two years after coming from North Carolina, expects the next coach to come from his staff. His assistants are former North Star head coach Berzonski, Deputy, Scott McGill, Brian Gibbons, Tyler Dibert and Dan Albright.

“I hope so. That’s what I’ll recommend,” Lazor said. “The boys trust them. It would be less of a shock with me leaving if it would happen that way.”

Lazor said he told the team about his decision on Thursday after school.

“I did it at the end of the day because I knew I’d break down, and I didn’t want to do it in the middle of the day,” he said. “Some of them took it hard. In our practice room, we’ve lived by our faith, family, school and wrestling motto, and I was kind of not following my own words. They were sad, but they understood.”

Lazor was named the head coach of the Ridge softball team a couple months ago. He had been coaching his daughter in elementary indoor softball during the winter.

“She’ll be in junior high next year,” Lazor said, “so that’s something I did that I can be with her. I’m excited about it. It’s something new and fresh. The girls seem real excited, and they’re buying into it. We’re going down to Virginia on Friday to play in a tournament.”

Lazor, who went 203-48 in 11 seasons with the Lions, certainly went out on top. He was in Jared McGill’s corner when the Lion senior won the 170-pound state title at the PIAA Class 2A Championships on March 9. Lazor has coached two state champions, including Justin McCoy in 2017.

Ridge 113-pounder Nathan Holderbaum and 106-pounder Kai Burkett placed fourth and fifth, respectively, in Hershey.

The Lions went 16-1 this past season and finished third in the PIAA Duals for the second straight year.

The Lions have become a dynasty in District 5 under Lazor, winning eight straight district team titles at the individual tournament and seven straight District 5 Duals titles. He has been named District 5 Coach of the Year eight straight years.

“I’m happy with a lot of the things we accomplished,” Lazor said. “I’m most thankful and satisfied with the idea that we turned out some really good men – not just in wrestling but after wrestling. We worked on creating a family atmosphere in this place, and it really caught hold.

“One of the saddest things I’m going to have is not just leaving the wrestling but leaving the community as their coach because of the way they backed me up all these years. They appreciated the effort and work that the other coaches did.

“Am I satisfied with the results and everything we did? Absolutely. The boys worked hard. They earned everything they got. We never won the state title, of course, but I think we accomplished a lot.”

Lazor was asked if he intends to be a head wrestling coach at the high school level ever again.

“It’s not like I’m leaving it and hating it,” he said. “(Stepping down) was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done. I broke down several times last week. Will I ever coach again? I don’t know.”