POTTSTOWN >> He’s been successful competing at the upper levels of wrestling over the past decade.
Now, Brad Clark is looking to continue that run at the coaching level.
Clark has taken over as head of Pottstown High’s varsity mat program this year. He succeeds Brad Bechtel, who went 56-39 in four years with program.
“Overall, the majority of my expectations is to help the kids progress,” the 2007 Methacton graduate, a three-time PIAA medalist for the Warriors, said in a recent phone interview. He takes over a Trojan program that went 5-4 in the PAC (12-7 overall) in its final season under Bechtel.
Clark, who went on to wrestle for Liberty University after graduating from Methacton, found out in July that Bechtel was stepping down. Former Pottstown head coach Jamie Gill, for whom Clark served as an assistant in 2011, told him the job was open.
“I was ready for it,” Clark said. “I’m ready to step up and do it.”
Clark compiled a solid skills background at Methacton, where he went 126-27 in four years of varsity action — the first under head coach Tony Haley, the next three under Bill Moser.
A three-time champion in District 1’s Section 3, Clark also claimed District 1-AAA and Southeast Regional AAA his senior season — that after a fourth-place state finish at 160 his junior year, his highest ascent on the medal podium.
At Liberty, Clark was a starter two of the program’s last three years before it was discontinued. He was an NCAA East runner-up his sophomore and junior seasons, with high finishes in the Keystone Classic (third) and Penn State Open tournaments (seventh) to his credit.
“My coaching style is like my wrestling style: Unique,” he said. “I want the kids to have fun in the room. I want them to have accountability.”
Clark’s coaching experience includes a stint as a volunteer assistant at Kutztown University. It was there he had the opportunity to work with his younger brother, Brandan, who capped his collegiate career with a fourth-place finish at last year’s NCAA Super Region I Championships.
“It was a great experience, coaching at the Division II level,” he said.
Clark inherits a Pottstown program that boasted a solid group of seniors headed by Bryant Wise, a two-time PIAA qualifier and Southeast AAA silver medalist last year. Saddiq Ibn-Mustafah was another regional qualifier, as was Logan Pennypacker. Logan’s twin brother, Mason Pennypacker (PAC champion) teamed with Wise to give the Trojans a solid showing in the middle weights.
They’ve all gone the graduation route, leaving senior Isaiah Mayes — a sixth-place Southeast AAA qualifier his junior season — as one of the team’s returning stalwarts.
“Last year, we had a great core of seniors who came up through the youth program,” Clark said. “This year, we’re looking to him (Mayes) as a big leader.”
Clark’s coaching staff features longtime assistant John Armato; Nick Wade, a Phoenixville product who was on Bechtel’s staff last year; and Tom Daniels, a Bechtel assistant his first three seasons.
A notable newcomer is Brandan Clark, whose scholastic career at Methacton was capped by his being the PIAA Class AAA bracket’s 215-pound silver medalist in 2007. Brandan came away from his high-school experience with two state medals, four sectional championships and a 145-29 career record.
“I want to teach technique … proper positions,” he said. “I have a technical style. Wrestling is a mental sport.”
As has been the reality for decades, the Pottstown squad has to wait until the football team has its traditional Thanksgiving Day game with Owen J. Roberts to get its full complement of grapplers on board.
“Half our team is on the football team,” Clark noted. “We have strong talent we can utilize.”
At present, Clark and his staff are working to prepare for the Trojans’ Dec. 13 home/season opener with West Chester Henderson. He noted the present turnout of approximately 25 wrestlers is “about average.”
“We have a core group of 5-6 guys who are hard working,” he said. “That shows. They’ve stuck with it.
“It’s a whole new year. We’re looking to take steps in our direction.”