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Best of the Decade: The architect behind wrestling’s rebuild

September 8, 2010

Former Columbia City wrestling coach Randy Kearby talks with Ethan DeWitt after a match. Kearby was named Coach of the Decade for his efforts in rebuilding the Eagles wrestling program. Post & Mail file photo / Mark Parker

   When looking for the reasons that a coach is considered to be successful, it is easy to look at the obvious things like won-loss records.
   Certainly the accomplishments of the Columbia City wrestling team under Randy Kearby in the past decade are enough to justify him being called a success.
   Now those accomplishments plus the commitment he made to the betterment of his wrestlers as young men has earned him the title of Whitley County Coach of the Decade.
   Included in that litany of accomplishments during this decade are five straight Wawasee Classic team titles (2003-2008), four consecutive Lake Central Invitational titles (2003-2007), and three New Palestine  Invitational wins (2002-2004).
   Kearby-coached Columbia City teams also produced a winning streak of eight straight years at the Goshen Invitational (2000-2008), and earned North-east Hoosier Conference Tour-nament runners-up  status for five straight years (2001-2005).
   The Eagles were Northeast Hoosier Conference regular season champions in 2004, a year that saw them hand powerhouse Bellmont its only dual-meet NHC loss in the Decatur school’s history.
   Just as impressive were Columbia City’s seven straight sectional titles (2001-2008), six team regional titles and three team semistate crowns.
   Kearby’s teams also strung together a school-record three consecutive team state final four appearances (2004-2006).
   With a distinctive voice that boomed across mats and the gyms at both CCHS and the Marshall building, Kearby was mentor to 26 Columbia City wrestlers in the individual state finals during the decade of 2000-2008, with 12 of those wrestlers placing in the top eight in their weight classes.
   Kearby took over a wrestling program in trouble, with numbers on the decline there was talk that the program might be disbanded.
   It did take the Columbia City wrestlers time to get used to the high expectations Kearby brought to the program but within a couple of seasons, those questions were put to rest.
   Restoring both a work ethic and numbers to the program, increasing the participants to 55 wrestlers at its height, Kearby also brought an upgrade to the Columbia City schedule, noting the importance of wrestling the best of competition in order to be prepared for the IHSAA tournament series. The soundness of that practice and Kearby’s preparation could be seen in the Eagles’ performances against the top teams in the top tournaments.
   It would be very easy to judge a coach on credentials such as those above, but that would only be a portion of the reasons that Kearby and all the other coaches on the list are held in such high esteem.
   Comments such as “Mr. Kearby had more love and compassion for his students than any one I ever saw,” and “He not only taught the kids about wrestling but also about life,” tell more about the stature of Kearby both as coach and as teacher.
   “I nominate this man because of his commitment to the sport and his commitment to build young men into successful people,” another voter commented. “I can think of no man that I would rather have coaching my children.” And possibly most succinctly put, “He made a difference.”
   Kearby throughout his career at CCHS always deflected praise to the students who wrestled for him.
   Coach of the Decade, Randy Kearby shares with every other coach on the list a sincere concern for the athletes he coached not only on the playing fields, diamonds, tracks, gym floors or wrestling mats but also on their paths to becoming adults.
   Each of these nominated coaches expects the absolute best from their teams as athletes, as students, and as human beings. In return each of them expects that and more from themselves.
   Kearby is currently the new wrestling coach at Mount Tabor High School in North Carolina, where he is undertaking a rebuilding program there.

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