Doyle preparing WJU’s first wrestling team

HUNTINGTON – It was an offer he couldn’t refuse.

When then Wheeling Park teacher and wrestling coach Sean Doyle was asked to become the head coach of Wheeling Jesuit University’s new mat program, it didn’t take him long to say yes.

He’d always thought about moving up to the college ranks as a coach. But newly-married and with he and his wife, Amber, settled down in the Ohio Valley, Doyle knew any local opportunities would likely be few and far between.

So, when Wheeling Jesuit University President Richard Beyer and Athletics Director Danny Sancomb told him about their plans, he was eager to hop aboard.

“This was just ideal for me,” Doyle said Saturday while taking in the 66th annual West Virginia High School Championships at Big Sandy Superstore Arena.

“It’s in my backyard. Campus is just a short walk from my home. It’s pretty exciting.”

Doyle was officially introduced as the program’s first leader shortly before Christmas. Since then, it’s been a challenge balancing his time between his teaching job at Park and his duties with the fledgling Cardinals.

“Things are going great,” Doyle said of the program, which will begin wrestling during the 2013-14 school year. “We’ve had tons of kids on campus visiting already.

“We have about 80 or so kids who are in our recruiting database already. So, right now, that’s what we’re doing 90 percent of the time.

“We’re working on things like scheduling, but right now the biggest goal is putting the roster together.”

Doyle first had discussions with WJU officials last summer when he learned the school was gauging the possibility of starting a program.

“We chatted about it and then they made the move,” Doyle said. “President Beyer is an aggressive president. He’s all about growth and expansion and so when they saw the quality of kids you get in wrestling they knew it would bring leaders to their campus.”

Having a new program has its pros and cons. There’s nothing to fix, everything is fresh and new, and recruits have a chance to be leaders and contribute right away.

And while there’s no history to use in recruiting, Doyle likes to emphasize to recruits they have a unique opportunity to carve their own niche.

“Parents and kids alike are intrigued by that,” Doyle said. “You’re challenging them to become the first national qualifier at Jesuit or the first All-American at Jesuit.”

The recruiting process is nothing new for Doyle. While wrestling for Buckeye Local in the late 1990s, Doyle went through the process before choosing Cornell.

“I’ve gone through the process myself and have had kids (at Park) get recruited,” he said. “I have a lot of good mentors who’ve helped me along.”

The school is in the process of providing a home for the wrestling program inside the McDonough Center.

“Jesuit has provided a ton of support and has made everything simpler,” he said.

Later this spring, a schedule will be made. Wheeling Jesuit is moving to the Mountain East Conference next season and Doyle said wrestling will not be a conference sport.”

Instead, the Cardinals will face a schedule similar to one West Liberty has that includes regional foes.

“We’ll wrestle West Liberty and Notre Dame,” Doyle said. “Other than that, we’ll face solid regional foes.”