The shake up of wrestling leaders continues this offseason with the latest news coming from Tucson.
Tim Berrier, who led Ironwood Ridge to its fourth state title this past season and first in Division I, resigned as the NightHawks’ coach in order to possibly join his son’s staff at Pueblo.
It leaves openings at Mountain View, Seton Catholic and Ironwood Ridge.
Paul Vasquez, a Pueblo graduate, started teaching at the school last year and when Steve Lopez resigned after this season. The opening gave the two-time state champion a chance to return to the wrestling room at Pueblo should he hired.
“I grew up about 1 1/2 miles from here, the wrestling room here is one of my favorite places in the world,” Vasquez said.
Vasquez is ready to keep Pueblo competing at a high level, and push it beyond what Lopez, who won a state title in 2008, has been able to do in the years after Berrier resigned.
“I'm from this neighborhood and have done pretty well for myself, I think it helps to get kids to buy into your program if you are from there,” he said. “We’re raised around similar circumstances, and were able to be successful. We'll see.”
Berrier is one of top teachers of the sport not only in Tucson or Arizona for that matter. He was named the National Wrestling Coach of the Year by the National Federation of State High School Associations in December.
“I'm real happy with the things we accomplished," Berrier said of the four team titles and 22 individual champs. "Seven kids went to military academies. We got a few kids headed in the right direction that needed some help.
"There was a lot of talent and little discipline (when he took over). I feel we changed the atmosphere into kids seeking excellence on and off the mat."
Paul, as much as has he had to do with Ironwood Ridge’s success in recent years, wasn’t coaching much in the early days when Berrier was churning out quality young men and top wrestlers at Catalina, Salpointe Catholic, Pueblo, Amphi and Pima College before he took over Ironwood Ridge.
Ever since the NightHawks have developed into the top program in Tucson and surpassed Sunnyside, an unfathomable thought considering the history of success for the Blue Devils, in recent years.
Berrier’s teams were known for being technicians, wrestled with class win or lose and churned out champions who went on to wrestle in college with great success. Danny Vega, who is visiting Utah Valley this weekend, will be the next one.
Now the combo hopes to do the same at Pueblo if it all comes together.
“It's awesome, our roles really won't change from the past few years, as he has kinda let me run things daily while he is in charge,” Vasquez said. “Any questions I had or have, he is the first person that I ask. I get to work with my Dad everyday doing something we both love. It's great.”
* Contact Jason Skoda at 480 898-7915 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JasonPSkoda