Fmr. state champ takes wrestling reins at Adairsville High School
by David Royal
Apr 17, 2011 | 3072 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A former two-time high school state champion wrestler is assuming the reins of the Adairsville High School wrestling program.

Joey Harris, who won the state titles at Armuchee High as a ninth-grader in the 112-pound division and then as a senior in the 119-pound division, is succeeding Patrick Konen, who is stepping down as head coach at Adairsville but is remaining as an assistant.

Harris is a teacher at Adairsville Middle, where he also has been head middle school wrestling coach since 2007.

The coach said his aim is to "build on Adairsville's wrestling tradition" and continue the success created under Konen's tenure with the wrestling program.

"It's big that coach Konen will be helping me," Harris said. "He's done a great job here, and he'll be a real asset."

The new wrestling coach said his emphasis at Adairsville will be to continue expanding the reach of wrestling to younger students.

He said the school will promote the U.S.A. Wrestling program, which provides ways for young wrestlers to become involved in the sport.

Harris said most Bartow County youngsters may learn about such sports like baseball, basketball and football growing up in their backyards but don't come into contact with wrestling until they are in the middle school.

Steve Sparks, athletic director, said nearby schools such as Calhoun and Sonoraville both involved students in wrestling at a younger age and they became more successful as wrestlers shortly afterwards. "We believe that's what Adairsville needs to do, too."

Harris said other sports will benefit as the youths become more athletic.

The coach said he will be meeting with Adairsville wrestlers and expects to help provide opportunities this summer for mat time as well as weight training and dual meets, although not formal competitions where scores are kept.

"We have a pretty busy schedule for June," he added.

Harris said he has high goals for the program and appreciates the support by the school administration. "I'm real excited about the situation here."

Adairsville Principal Stan Lewis said Harris brings a lot of know-how to the sport because of his extensive experience and success with it.

"I've known Joey a long time and coached against him," Lewis said. "He's one of those who can use his experience as a wrestler to help others. Not everyone can do that."

The principal said Harris also is the type of individual who is a good role model for youngsters.

"If I had a son, I'd want him to learn to wrestle from him, and coach Harris is also the kind of person I'd want my son to grow up like," Lewis said.

He added he wants a successful wrestling program at Adairsville and believes Harris can provide the kind of leadership it needs to go to the next level.

Harris attended Jacksonville State University, where he received his B.S. Ed. in 2005 and M.S. Ed. in 2009.

He also has attended Cumberland University, Truett-McConnell College and Floyd College.