Mt. Olive wrestling coach will hang it up after 50-year career

Mt. Olive wrestling coach will hang it up

Mt. Olive places sixth in Ron Ryan Invitational

By Jackson Wilson

It has been a long-time coming for Mt. Olive wrestling icon and coach Ron Ryan, but 50 years is enough.

During the first weekend of December, Ryan officially made the announcement that he will be retiring at the end of the 2018-19 wrestling season.

Ryan, the father of the Mt. Olive wrestling program, graduated from Waverly High School in 1963 before earning a wrestling letter during his college days at Western Illinois University.

Ryan began his 34-year career as a math and science teacher at Mt. Olive High School in 1967 – the same year he organized the Wildcats’ wrestling program. The accolades and accomplishments came pouring down. The Wildcats won a district championship in 1975. They captured regional titles in 1979, 1980 and 1985 – all while advancing to the 1985 Elite Eight. Ryan was nominated as the 1988 Coach of the Year by the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association. This was the same year  that two of his athletes won state titles while another finished fourth in the big dance.

Since the institution of the class system in the 1974-75 season, Mt. Olive has had 54 state qualifiers through February 2018. This includes Ryan’s son, Eric Ryan, who seized a sectional championship in 1992. After high school, E. Ryan became a walk-on wrestler at the University of Illinois and was honored as a letterman all four years under coach Mark Johnson. Overall, Mt. Olive has produced four state champions, a runner-up, three third place finishers, four for fourth place and one ranked at sixth in the Class A individual state tournament. In addition, R. Ryan was given the privilege of coaching high school wrestling state champions Brad Stockstill and Pat O’Neal. Stockstill finished third in the state as a sophomore, then won back-to-back titles in his upperclassmen days. He won 160 of 165 matches throughout his high school career. O’Neal won as a sophomore heavyweight and again as a senior in the 185 weight class.

In 2007, R. Ryan welcomed Gillespie High School to the wrestling program by providing the opportunity to engage in a cooperative agreement. The family was just getting started. Staunton and Bunker Hill eventually joined the co-op in 2017.

R. Ryan was inducted into the Illinois Wrestling Coaches’ and Officials Association Hall of Fame in 1994 and later recieved the organization’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017.

Today, R. Ryan is working with his third generation of Mt. Olive wrestlers in certain families.

Ron Ryan Invitational

On Saturday, Mt. Olive High School hosted it’s 44th annual wrestling invitational meet. In R. Ryan’s honor, the event has now officially been named after him.

“This feels great because I organized this tournament 45 years ago and it’s done real well. We’ve only gotten snowed or iced out three times so that’s not bad at all,” R. Ryan said.

Prior to the event, R. Ryan was presented with a  framed bracket that consisted of all the state qualifiers he had originally coached throughout his memorable career.

“His impact with me started back when I was wrestling for him,” said Mt. Olive assistant coach Jeff Osmoe. “Watching him back then and all the way through the years  really show the dedication that he displayed in order to be a solid coach.”

“His impact goes above and beyond wrestling. Just as a person and a teacher, he  was a brutally honest guy. He might not like what he had to say but it was the truth,” added Jeff’s brother, Toby Osmoe.

“He’s been a father figure. If I’ve got any questions, he keeps me under control sometimes. You couldn’t have asked for a nicer guy,” said assistant coach Don Harvill.

“He made me into the wrestler that I am. I really wouldn’t be here coaching this game if it wasn’t for him. He’s definitely a huge inspiration for this team,” complimented Josh Harvill.

The Wildcats scored 87 team points to finish in sixth place out of 14 teams.

Abby Rhodes finished runner-up in the 120 weight class final.

Garrett Dickerson (145), Lilly Aljets (182), Kael Souter (195) and Bryan Parker (285) all finished fourth.

Amber Speitel (106) and Tyler Jones (138) both came away with sixth place.

Also participating for the Wildcats were Tiffany Teipleman (113), Ryan Reid (138), Jaylen Ronald (145) and Mason Huber (152).

Coach Ryan and the Mt. Olive Wildcats’ wrestling community would like to extend thanks to all who spent their Saturday making this tournament one of the most well received by coaches, wrestlers, and fans.

Prior to the 44th annual Mt. Olive Invitational, 50-year Mt. Olive head wrestling coach Ron Ryan (middle right) recieved a special framed bracket with the names of all of the state qualifiers he had coached throughout his career as a retirement gift. Pictured with Ryan (from left to right) are assistant coaches Don Harvill, Josh Harvill and Jeff Osmoe. Not pictured is assistant coach Toby Osmoe.