Former Granger great honored

Published 3:13 pm Thursday, November 30, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

For nearly 50 years, Clark Rich was a fixture on the local wrestling scene, and he won multiple state championships as LaGrange High’s head coach.

Sadly, Rich died last year at the age of 63, but his legacy lives on.

One of the men who was closest to Rich is LaGrange High head wrestling coach Scooter Weathers, and he’s come up with a way to honor his friend.

For years, LaGrange has hosted the Granger Duals, and Weather has decided to change the name of the tournament to the Clark Rich Cradle Classic Duals.

The five-team tournament gets under way on Saturday at 8:30 a.m.

Clark Rich’s brother, John Rich, remains involved with the LaGrange program as an assistant coach.

Weathers recently told John Rich about his idea of changing the name of the tournament.

“I told John we wanted to call it the Clark Rich Cradle Classic, and he said that’s got a good ring to it,” Weathers said. “So I was telling people about it, and they loved it.”

Even as Clark Rich’s health deteriorated, he remained committed to the program and to the well-being of the wrestlers.

“He loved wrestling,” John Rich said. “He loved the kids.”

Rich said that one of the things he and his brother most enjoyed about coaching was the opportunity to watch wrestlers grow as athletes and people.

“The biggest thing is relationships with the kids,” said Rich, who was a state-championship wrestler at LaGrange. “You see them come from boys, to young men, and they get confidence, and to learn to carry themselves.”

Rich added that “it’s a privilege, and an honor, to get to coach young men, at least it is to me.”

This will be LaGrange’s second competition of the season.

LaGrange participated in a dual-format tournament in Carrollton, and it went 3-2 with wins over Newnan, McIntosh and North Cobb and close losses to Rockmart and Gordon Lee.

In addition to LaGrange, the other participants in Saturday’s tournament will be Smiths Station, Haralson County, Brookstone and Bowdon.

Last season, LaGrange beat Smiths Station to win the Granger Duals.

Weathers has 397 career wins in head-to-head matches, so if LaGrange has a good day on Saturday, he’ll earn his milestone 400th win.

Weathers has been LaGrange’s head coach for nearly 20 years, and he has enjoyed tremendous success.

“I’ve been a part of a bunch of special teams,” Weathers said. “It’s not just me.”