by Mark Morrow
There are reasons to be optimistic when it comes to the future of Carmel High School wrestling.
For one thing, one of the state’s winningest coaches has taken the helm. For a another thing, Carmel USA Wrestling should have an impact on the future. The fast-growing club should leave a deep impression on the sport, just like the coach hopes to do.
It all adds up to being positive, proud, and prepared to excel on and off the mats.
Ed Pendoski, in his first season coaching the Greyhounds, brings a 327-27 career record. He coached 11 seasons (1994-2005) at Portage High School. He never lost a sectional. He won nine semistate championships.
One thing missing from his resume, however, is a state championship.
“Lost by one point,” Pendoski said with a grin, pointing to Andy Simon, who was leisurely sitting back in a chair after a recent practice, listening to this conversation about the overall program.
Simon, who defeated Portage to win the state individual championship in 1997, now serves as one of the Carmel assistants. He, too, produced quite a record (329-50) from 1991 to 2001.
Pendoski, who sold his Central Indiana Wrestling Academy to take the Carmel job, is a strong advocate and promoter of high school wrestling. He expects his Greyhounds to do their best on and off the mats, as well as to help put a positive face on the sport in the highly successful Hamilton County high school.
“On Day 1, I asked the kids what they are doing to give wrestling a presence in our school to help build fan support,” he said.
Pendoski, who serves as a board director for the Indiana State Wrestling Association, said the Carmel wrestling team also supports other sports at Carmel. “We’ll go to various Carmel sporting events as a group, to show our support,” Pendoski said. “When the kids have that Carmel shirt on, they project pride and a very positive presence around other programs and student athletes.”
Pendoski said wrestling is more than just about wins. He said it’s a sport that provides life lessons. “We want kids to put on a performance for spectators,” he said. “We want them to compete hard and provide an exciting style and to promote within the school system. We want spectators to know that when they come to one of our matches, they can expect to see us perform at the highest level we can, and to provide an entertaining experience.”
It all starts with youth who aspire to grow with the sport.
He said he’s especially proud of Carmel USA Wrestling. He serves as the group’s president, and he wants to provide all youth a positive experience.
“We want the kids to have fun. Not every kid will stay with wrestling,” Pendoski said, “but we want to provide an opportunity for them to learn and grow and to take something positive away from their experience. Carmel USA Wrestling simply provides opportunities for kids.”
The program is modeled after the Carmel swim program, which has a high school coach and a summer program director in Chris Plumb. Now, Pendoski assumes both duties in wrestling. “It’s wrestling’s version of AAU,” Pendoski said. Pendoski said the club is still in its infancy, and that Jim Selvio, an assistant wrestling coach at Carmel, had a big hand in bringing USA Wrestling to Carmel two years ago.
The goal of the Carmel USA Wrestling Club is to make available opportunities for wrestlers to improve their skill level and broaden wrestling experiences in a fun, competitive atmosphere “while inspiring our student athletes to continue their wrestling aspirations,” Pendoski said. USA Wrestling is the national governing body for the sport of wrestling in the United States and, as such, it is a representative to the U.S. Olympic Committee.
The three stages of USA Wrestling are national, state, and local.
USA Wrestling replaces the Greyhound Wrestling Club, which was a closed club. Carmel USA Wrestling is open to the public. “Carmel USA Wrestling is a place to train and have fun. It’s more than just being competitive,” Pendoski said. “It truly does teach life lessons. Kids will get out of wrestling what they put in to it.”
Pendoski said he has the necessary experience and knowledge about the sport to know what’s best for kids – what they should do and at what level they can compete if they decide the sport is for them. He said he wants to do what is best for each kid in order to make wrestling an enjoyable experience. “In the end, if kids decide they want to compete, then great. If not, then that’s OK, too. At least they’ve been given an opportunity to see what the sport is like,” Pendoski said. “No matter what each kid decides, our goal is to make sure they can take something positive away from their experience….hopefully something that will help them in whatever they decide to do in life.”
Indeed….the Carmel USA Wrestling experience sounds pretty positive.