SULLIVAN TWP. — Black River wrestling coach Jesse Campbell has been a fixture with the Pirates, whether as a wrestler or mentor, for years.
On Wednesday, the 29-year old decided it was time to concentrate his efforts elsewhere and resigned.
“I felt that I’ve done all I can do,” Campbell said. “It’s someone else’s turn to take over the program and take them into the future. I don’t think there’s ever a good time to do it because you make relationships with everybody down the line. It’s one of those things like ripping a Band-Aid off. You just kind of have to do it.
“I’ll miss it. There’s no doubt about that. It’s just one of those things like, when you know, you know. It’s one of those things that has to happen.”
A state champion in 2007 at Black River and state runner-up in 2006, Campbell came back as an assistant for a season and coached the team as the lead man for the last four years.
“You don’t replace someone like that who has a familiarity with Black River,” Pirates athletic director Ted Gordon said. “With his roots being here and as a state champ for Black River, he’s just always been around. I think it was a difficult decision for him, but I think he just decided it was time to step aside.”
Campbell coached 19 district qualifiers, six district placers, three state qualifiers (Ryan Sloan, Jacob Campbell, twice) and mentored his brother to a sixth-place finish this season in Columbus in Division III at 195 pounds. He also finished in the top three as a team twice at sectionals.
What’s more, he took a program small in numbers and brought it back to life with 21 wrestlers starting the 2017-18 campaign.
What Gordon will miss the most is Campbell’s passion, as the redhead sat back in his chair almost unnoticed until one of his wrestlers hit the mat.
“Whenever you have someone like Jesse where sometimes you wonder how much he’s into it and then you see his feeling for it, the passion, it’s hard to replace,” Gordon said. “It’s just the want-to to go out there and win.”