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Coaching Changes Impact the 80s

When it comes to the biggest stories of the 1980s, most Reynolds Wrestling fans default to all the coaching changes that took place during the decade.

Note: This is the first of a planned series of articles by Don Shaffer that feature stories of the Raider Legacy during the 1980's - the decade we will honor at the RWLC picnic on July 13. A link to purchase tickets is at the end of the article.

1980's Head Coaches at the 1st RWLC Picnic

Mark Reichard, Doug Groover, Ron Taylor, Ed McClimans & Brian Hills

There is no hiding the fact that the 1980s was a bit of a coaching turnstile, especially the first half of the decade as five different coaches sat in the corner chair. Even though each of those coaches were largely successful, it was not what Raider fans were accustomed to considering all the success and stability that Coach Neal Lineman had given the program through 16 Hall of Fame seasons in the 1960s and 70s.

When Coach Lineman resigned after the 1976-77 season, the program suffered a significant hit that would take the program years to recover from. Indeed, Lineman was a once-in-a-generation coach who had the program humming like a well-oiled machine.

It was Mark Reichard who initially stepped in for the legendary Lineman and held things together. In all honesty, Reichard probably does not get the recognition he deserves for agreeing to step into a no-win situation. He would stay for three seasons, through 1979-80, before Doug Groover, Ron Taylor and Ed McClimans came quickly. Groover and Taylor stayed for just one season each and McClimans piloted the program for four.

It is an interesting footnote that Reichard (’63), Groover (’67) and McClimans (’70) all wrestled for Coach Lineman. Taylor was a Greenville graduate who learned under another Hall of Famer – Dave Clelland.

For all the changes the program endured in the first half of the decade, stability returned in a big way when Brian Hills was named head coach in 1986. Hills would stay on for 25 seasons and return the Raiders to greatness.

Like Reichard, Groover and McClimans, Hills also was a product of the Lineman regime. A 1975 Reynolds graduate, Brian was successful at every level in the sport of wrestling. First as a two-time Pennsylvania Junior Olympic state champion, then as a PIAA runner-up with a career record of 81-9-1, and as a Division III national qualifier at Thiel College. Prior to taking over as the varsity coach, Hills led a resurgence in Reynolds’ junior wrestling program.

History shows that McClimans led all 80s coaches with 46 wins, followed by Hills (40), Groover (15), Reichard (11) and Taylor (10). Combined, teams in the 1980s posted a 122-27-1 record, for a winning percentage of 81.7.

Until recently, the 1983-84 season held the dubious distinction as the season with the most dual match losses – five. While that record can be quoted by many, what is less known is that four of those five losses were by three points. Only Meadville, which manhandled the Raiders 41-9, dominated.

Groover led the only unbeaten team of the decade as his 1981 squad finished 15-0 and Hills guided the only state champion of the decade – heavyweight Aaron Armer (1989).

The Class of 1983 is the answer to a trivia question as it is the only class in school history to see four different coaches in four years – Reichard in 1980, Groover in 1981, Taylor in 1982 and McClimans in 1983.

Coach Season Record

Mark Reichard 1979-80 11-3

Doug Groover 1980-81 15-0

Ron Taylor 1981-82 10-2

Ed McClimans 1982-83 10-3

Ed McClimans 1983-84 12-5

Ed McClimans 1984-85 12-4

Ed McClimans 1985-86 12-3

Brian Hills 1986-87 12-3-1

Brian Hills 1987-88 13-3

Brian Hills 1988-89 15-1

TOTAL 122-27-1

The 4 th annual Reynolds Wrestling Legacy Club summer picnic will honor wrestlers, coaches, mat maids and cheerleaders from the 1980s. The event will be held on Saturday, July 13 at the Transfer Harvest Home grounds. Tickets are $28 for adults and $18 for students and can be purchased here.

All proceeds from the event will benefit the Legacy club’s annual scholarship programs. The legacy club awards two annual scholarships named in honor of Coach Neal Lineman and Coach Brian Hills and, to date, the club has already awarded $20,000 in scholarships.

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