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Coach leaves Bears to officiate

Alan Solomon started the program that has produced two individual state title winners.

FRANK PASTOR
Published May 22, 2003

BROOKSVILLE - Alan Solomon is done coaching, but he's not quite ready to leave the mat.

Solomon, who started Central's program and coached two state champions, is stepping down after 15 seasons to focus on officiating.

"I've gotten tired of it at the moment," said Solomon, who will continue to teach American history.

"I've been doing it for so long and, like all sports, it's very mentally draining because kids have changed over the years," he said. "Some years they are very dedicated, and some years you have kids that are not."

Solomon, 51, started Central's program in 1988 and served as varsity coach 13 years. He assisted Barry Gardner in '92 and Mike Ralph last season.

During Solomon's tenure, Omah Sang won the 171-pound state title in 1994, and Michael Mallin took the 189 championship in '97. Solomon's son, Bucky, went to the Florida Finals as a sophomore and finished sixth last season as a senior.

"Coaching your own child is very, very mentally draining, and my goal was to stay in it until he got through high school and then get out," Solomon said.

Solomon has officiated 28 years and was invited to work four national tournaments, including the National High School Coaches' Association National State Wrestling Duals, Saturday-Monday in Salisbury, Md.

He previously worked the 2002 NHSCA Summer National Tournament in Norfolk, Va.; the 2002 National Pre-Season Tournament in Winston-Salem, N.C.; and the 2003 Senior Nationals in Cleveland.

In the winter, Solomon will officiate high school matches in Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties as a member of the West Coast Wrestling Officials, which is breaking away from the West Coast Officials Association.

He said he will stay away from dual meets or tourneys involving Central wrestlers.

"You tend to be rougher on the kids when you know them," Solomon said.

Solomon was introduced to wrestling through physical education class as a fourth-grader. He started competing as a 103-pound freshman at Rush-Henrietta High, outside of Rochester, N.Y., and continued his career as a 118-pounder for the State University of New York at Geneseo.

Solomon attended the U.S. Olympic Trials in 1972, '76 and '80, placing 12th in 1976, and continued to compete in freestyle meets in New York and Florida until age 39. He said his wife, Cecelia, encouraged him to officiate.

"I really enjoy officiating," Solomon said. "Any time I get the chance to do it, I usually step on the mat."

Solomon said he doesn't think he will miss coaching.

"Once I'm officiating, I'm involved in it at that level, so you're occupying your time," he said. "The one thing about coaching is you spend an awful lot of hours at it."

- Frank Pastor can be reached at (800) 333-7505, ext. 1430. Send e-mail to pastor@sptimes.com

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