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TOPIC: Coach's retirement
OUR VIEW: A Hawk forever
Soon, it will all be over. The bus rides, the long practices and the Saturdays spent daylight to dark in gymnasiums around the state and region.
Following 23 immensely successful years as the architect of the LaRue County High School wrestling program, this season will be Gary Canter’s last as the head man of the Mat Hawks.
Only two tournaments remain — region and state.
For Canter and the hundreds of wrestlers who have become better under his guidance, it has been an amazing ride for the coach and his program.
Not bad for a man who arrived in Hodgenville from Ohio as a girls’ basketball coach and started a wrestling program that has been among the state’s best for years.
When LaRue County decided in 1990 to offer wrestling, it became the perfect fit for the former wrestler who dove in and started setting the foundation for decades to come.
It was LaRue County’s immense success that pushed other programs around the area to get better or be left way behind.
Starting youth and middle school programs has been a key reason in pushing the program ahead, giving area youths experience and confidence.
Along the way, Canter has guided LaRue County to three state tournament runner-up finishes and captured the coveted State Duals title five times.
While wrestlers came and went, the way LaRue County shaped its program didn’t. Since the 1998-99 season, Canter has guided the Hawks into the top 10 at State every year.
Says former LaRue County wrestler Jack LaRue of the coach’s impact on the program: “Canter, by definition, is LaRue County wrestling. There have been many great wrestlers, state champs, placers and even All-Americans come through the ranks over the past years, but Canter is synonymous with LaRue County wrestling in this area, across the state and in other states that the team has traveled to.”
Canter has passed along credit for all the success to his wrestlers, but, coach, don’t be fooled: One big reason they became the student-athletes they did is because of the man atop the program.
This season is not only his last season as coach, but he exits with his son, Caleb, a senior and one of the premier wrestlers in the state in the 170-pound weight class.
Like the back of wrestling warm-up shirts proclaim, “Hawks Forever.” Canter is no doubt a Hawk forever.
This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise's editorial board.