Hampton wrestling shakes up coaching staff

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Sunday, July 11, 2021 | 11:01 AM


When Chris Hart told his Hampton wrestlers at their season-ending banquet last month that he was stepping down as head coach, their next coach was standing only a couple of feet away.

Talbots assistant coach Nick Endres is expected to be promoted to the top job, and Hart will return as an assistant to ease the transition.

“It’s not a big changeover,” said Endres, a third-year assistant whose hiring is pending school board approval. “We’re going to have the same guys in the room. Everything is staying the same.”

Assistants Joe Bursick and Kevin Synan also are returning to the staff.

Hart’s decision to step aside after four seasons at his alma mater didn’t come as a complete surprise.

For the past six seasons, he had coached this year’s senior class, including his nephew Justin Hart, a 2021 WPIAL Class AAA champion and PIAA runner-up at 182 pounds who will be a freshman at Virginia Military Institute this fall.

“When I originally took the job, my thought process was always going to be four years, when Justin and this group got out,” Hart said. “It was something that was definitely pre-thought of, but it definitely wasn’t easy.

“The timing was right for it. … We have really been grooming Nick — who didn’t really need much grooming — and putting him in a position to step in when the time was right. Everything really aligned for it to be a great time to transition over to him.”

This will be the first head coaching job for the 30-year-old Endres, who teaches health and physical education at Hampton Middle School.

The returning wrestlers are excited about his promotion.

“He’s a very, very good coach,” said Hampton 126-pounder Caleb Rihn, a rising sophomore.

“He pushes us very hard, and he has a very good mindset. I’m really excited to see how well we will fare this season because I feel he is going to make us a lot better than we are now.”

Rising senior Jayden Resch, a 2021 WPIAL Class AAA qualifier, added: “I love his intensity the most. It’s like he’s one of us.”

Endres caught the coaching bug at an early age, being hired as the junior high wrestling coach at Seneca Valley in October 2008 after graduating from Titusville as the third-winningest wrestler in the District 10 program’s history.

Endres coached the Seneca Valley junior high and varsity wrestling programs for six years while earning his degree at Slippery Rock and serving as a member of the Air National Guard.

He spent four years in Charlottesville, Va., coaching high school wrestling and football before returning to Western Pennsylvania and joining Hart’s staff at Hampton in 2018.

“Wrestling has been a part of my life ever since I could have memories, and I think as I grew older and matured, I learned how much about the sport that I loved, not just becoming a better wrestler on the mat, but just the life lessons that you really gain from the sport,” Endres said. “That’s what drew me to it.”

Endres said his coaching philosophy extends past teaching wrestling technique. He is a proponent of the sport’s mental aspects.

“You can go into most any practice room, especially in the WPIAL, and learn good wrestling,” he said.

“I found myself as a coach gearing toward loving the focus of helping these guys grow mentally and their mental approach to the sport. I think that’s a big factor that separates one wrestler from the next and one team from the next.”

Endres already has started to look to build numbers on the team, which he said is “a big focus of mostly any program, no matter how successful you’ve been in the past.”

He and youth wrestling coach Zack West visited a Hampton Youth Football camp last month and brought along ex-Talbot wrestlers Dawson Dietz and Gage Galuska, a pair of college football recruits who graduated last month.

Hart, a member of the Hampton Athletic Hall of Fame, is confident Endres will keep the program moving in the right direction.

“He relates very well to the kids,” Hart said. “His energy level is unmatched. He can explain things to kids and get them to understand. He has a unique ability to do that, and parents love him.”

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