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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Former Lansing wrestler takes reins of Lions program

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  • Three-time high school state wrestling placer Nick Flynn, a 2008 Lansing High School graduate, left high school with a wrestling scholarship to Division I program South Dakota State University.
    But, that's not all he left Lansing High School with.
    The 24-year-old Lion is back, only this time as head of the pride. After a year of student teaching and acting as an assistant coach under head coach Ron Averill, who had led the program for 31 years, Flynn was named new head wrestling coach following last season.
    Flynn and Averill said the announcement was six years in the making.
    "I had suggested to him that it should be the plan," Averill said. "We talked throughout his senior year, and he said this was something he wanted to do. So when he left for college, that was the plan from the time he graduated on."
    During his five years away at college, Flynn said he and Averill talked on the phone frequently.
    Each time Averill had disciplinary problems with wrestlers or ran into a common coaching scenario, he said he'd give Flynn a call.
    "I thought it was an opportunity to help grow him in preparation of coaching," Averill said. "I wanted to give him insight to the coaching side of it. ... He knew how Lansing wrestling was as an athlete, but he hadn't really experienced it from a coaching standpoint. So I was just looking at opportunities throughout those years to kind of give him those little insights as they came."
    The result — a one-year stint as an assistant coach. The plan, Averill said, was to bring Flynn back as an assistant under him. When he was ready, the torch would be passed and Averill would remain with the program as Flynn's assistant coach.
    But, the plan has come to fruition quicker than Averill expected.  
    As a wrestler, Averill said Flynn is on the shortlist of the best wrestlers to come through Lansing High School. The product of a military family, he moved to Lansing during fifth grade and immediately got involved with the youth wrestling club, the Slammers.
    After working through the ranks of club wrestling and middle school wrestling, Flynn found himself on a seasoned varsity squad alongside his brother, Sean.
    As a young varsity wrestler, he said he learned a lot from older wrestlers who were consistently in the running at the end of each season for state titles.
    "We were one of the best teams in the state," Flynn said. "All those guys were top-ranked guys in the state, all wrestling for Lansing. It was a great experience coming up having those guys as my leaders and being part of some of the best programs around."
    At South Dakota State, Flynn thrived. His junior season, he was named third-team all conference and by his senior season he'd finished with the second-best record of anyone on the team at 21-12.
    Page 2 of 2 - As an assistant coach with the Lions, he had an opportunity to work with senior Michael Olsen, who won the Kansas state championship last season. As a coach fresh from the college ranks, he said he presented a good opportunity for the young wrestler to match up against a more-experienced wrestler, and the two wrestled against each other throughout the season in practice.
    "What was good for him with me coming back was I was a fresh body just coming out of a college room," Flynn said. "I really was able to give him the best training partner he could have."
    Now as head coach, Flynn said the strength of the program will come initially from the strength of the youth wrestling program in Leavenworth County that he was once a part of. The Slammers are no longer, replaced instead by the Spartans wrestling club, a combination of the Lansing and Leavenworth wrestling programs.
    But, he said he's also eager to work with the current Lions roster.
    Flynn said Lansing has multiple wrestlers he expects to be in the running for a state title this season.
    As for replacing a long-time coach, Flynn said he's expecting to be at Lansing as long, if not longer than Averill.
    "I honestly believe Lansing is the greatest town in the world," Flynn said. "The people who helped raise me and made me the person I am, I don't ever want to not be a part of that. And, I want to have that same influence on youngsters coming through our area.
    "This is the school I want to be at forever. I want to be with this wrestling program forever."

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