New coach to lead LaGrange wrestling program
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
LaGrange High’s wrestling program has a rich and successful history, and Burton Thomas is looking forward to helping add to it.
Earlier this spring Thomas was hired to not only become the defensive coordinator on the football coaching staff, but to become the head coach for the wrestling team.
Michael Woodard was LaGrange’s head coach during the 2019-2020 season following the departure of Scooter Weathers, who had a successful 20-year tenure leading the wrestling program.
“I’m very excited about wrestling,” said Thomas, who helped coach the Callaway High wrestling team last season. “I wrestled in high school (at Central-Carroll), and I definitely have a passion for it. It’s a sport that gets overlooked a lot, but it’s a phenomenal sport. I love it.”
While Thomas is new to LaGrange, he did get to know some of the wrestlers last season while he was at Callaway.
“Coaching football, you don’t get to know the opponent’s players as much,” Thomas said. “In wrestling, you can sit down with them, and you see them in the bleachers. You see them multiple times during the year. I know some of those wrestlers over at LaGrange just from the times we wrestled against them last year. And getting to come over here and take over that program is going to be a lot of fun. It’s going to be awesome. There are some great wrestlers that are returning to that program.”
Weathers left LaGrange following the 2018-2019 season to become the head wrestling coach at Catawba in South Carolina.
During his time at LaGrange, Weathers had a dual-meet record of 438-158, and he coached three individual state champions and six state runner-ups.
“Coach Weathers, he did a phenomenal job while he was here,” Thomas said. “I was good friends with coach Weathers when I was coaching wrestling at Central. He’s a good guy. I can’t wait to talk to him. I know coach Weathers and I are going to have a lot of conversations about wrestling. I’m looking forward to it.”
Thomas is also excited about the practice facility for LaGrange’s wrestling team.
Over the past few decades the team has moved from home to home, and most recently the wrestlers practiced at Unity Elementary School.
When the 2020-2021 season rolls around, LaGrange will have its own expansive practice area in the new athletic facility that is scheduled for completion in June.
“I’ve walked through there with a hard hat and a vest on 20 times,” Thomas said. “Every time I go in there I look at that wrestling room, it’s the biggest practice room that I’ve ever seen. It’s an unbelievable facility for wrestling. And we’re definitely going to take advantage of it. I’m very excited about it.”