ELKHART — Jim Iannarelli spent the past winter, more or less, being groomed for the job, and now it is his and he’s running with it.
Iannarelli, 31, has been named head wrestling coach at Elkhart Memorial High School after nine seasons as an assistant coach in a program where he was an athlete.
The 2000 Memorial graduate takes over the reins from Brian Pfeil, who resigned as head coach after the 2012-13 season to spend more time with his family and with his full-time job.
Iannarelli’s philosophy is simple.
“Work hard. Win matches,” said Iannarelli. “Last year, in my opinion, was a rather disappointing season.”
Yes, the Crimson Chargers with its 10 seniors won the Elkhart Sectional and tied for the Northern Lakes Conference championship, but the program saw a long NLC dual win streak snapped and did not have any wrestlers make it to the IHSAA individual State Finals in Indianapolis for the first time in nearly a decade.
“I find that unacceptable,” said Iannarelli. “With the talent we have on our team, there should be multiple people down there (at the State Finals) every year.”
Iannarelli, who coached for six seasons at West Side Middle School prior to becoming the top assistant at Memorial last winter, is familiar with all the current and most of the upcoming Memorial wrestlers.
Returnees with varsity experience include Tieshawn Johnson, Phillip Mathiak, Eugene Moody-Neukom, Chris Morris, Jon Osoria and Tony Vaughn.
“They know how ‘Coach I’ operates and know what to expect,” said Iannarelli. “There should be little, if any, transitional strain.”
Iannarelli expects to have Brian Weaver and Nick Corpe — also former Memorial wrestlers — back on the coaching staff next year along with some other candidates.
Club workouts on Tuesdays and Thursdays after school have been going on throughout the spring and Iannarelli hopes that wrestlers will continue to put in the time — either at Memorial or at Regional Training Centers at Jimtown or Penn — during the summer.
“The ones that do the offseason work are going to be successful,” said Iannarelli.
Iannarelli graduated from Indiana University Bloomington in 2004 with a degree in biochemistry. He later received his teaching certification at Indiana University South Bend. He’ll continue to be a seventh grade science teacher at West Side.