First Posted: 12/2/2014
Jay Konigus spent the first two weeks of official practices getting to know his new wrestling team.
That team filled out this week with the addition of several athletes that Konigus already had a chance to work with this fall.
After spending four seasons as head wrestling coach at Crestwood, Konigus came back home to Lake-Lehman where he is leading the program for the first time.
Konigus made the transition to his first head coaching assignment at his alma mater by also serving as assistant coach in the football program where he spent most of his time working with the linemen on the freshmen team.
“About half of the team is pretty much football players,” Konigus said. “It’s a win-win situation. Football and wrestling pretty much go hand-in-hand.”
Five seniors from the football team followed up Lake-Lehman’s run to the District 2 Class AA playoffs by participating in the Nov. 29 UNICO All-Star Classic, delaying their full-time commitment to wrestling practice to this week.
Phil Hettes, Josh Sayre, Jimmy Stuart, Kody Pachamovitch and Cory Hoyt all helped the Green roll over the Red, 31-9, in the UNICO game. Hettes went 15-5 last year. Sayre won 45 bouts and placed in the District 2 tournament as a freshman and sophomore before missing last season with an injury.
Konigus will try to continue a successful run that dates back to his days on the mats for the Black Knights and beyond. He won two district titles and finished third in the state as a heavyweight as a senior in 1990.
After wrestling at Clarion University, Konigus has spent the last decade as a high school coaching, including a stint as varsity assistant at Lake-Lehman under Phil Lipski. He takes over for Tom Williams, who resigned at the conclusion of the 2013-14 season.
Konigus will lead the team at home for the first time Tuesday, Dec. 9 with a non-league match against Wallenpaupack. The Black Knights participated in Saturday’s Catasauqua Tournament to open their season.
“The guys are getting settled in and getting used to doing things in different ways,” Konigus said.
Will Weber, another former Lake-Lehman wrestler, is the top assistant after serving in that role for Konigus at Crestwood.
Konigus said several volunteer assistants are allowing the coaching staff to take a hands-on approach to instruction on the mat.
“You’re only as good as the people you’re surrounded by,” he said. “I have coaches to work with my big guys, coaches to work with my middle weights and coaches to work with the smaller guys.”
Konigus is one of two new coaches of winter sports teams at Lake-Lehman.
Ed Grant takes over the boys basketball team in place of Brian Cutter.
Grant, who also served as an offensive assistant in football, is in his basketball first head coaching position. He has been a track coach at Nanticoke, where he teaches, and an assistant in basketball and football at Dallas, GAR and Nanticoke.
“Right from the get-go, you’ll definitely notice a change in defense and the mentality on that side of the ball,” said Grant, who plans to go primarily with half-court or three-quarter, man-to-man pressure. “There will be a lot of toughness. That’s the kind of kid we have at Lake-Lehman.”
Brian Devine and Mike Symeon return to the starting lineup. Point guard Ben Brooks and 6-5, 285-pound center Connor McGovern each step into more prominent roles after being key subs last season.
The Black Knights played their first five games on the road before their home opener Dec. 18 against rival Dallas.