After a 30-plus year hiatus, Jim Johnson and Chris Leigh brought prep wrestling back to the Santa Clarita Valley by launching Trinity Classical Academy’s program in 2012.
Johnson, who took over as the program’s head coach in 2014, told The Signal on Tuesday that the program has been dissolved after five seasons. Johnson was told by the school’s athletic department that there weren’t enough kids to disperse over the winter sports.
“It’s just not as glamorous of a sport,” Johnson said. “It doesn’t bring the kind of crowds that basketball does. And we don’t have rivalries with schools like (Santa Clarita Christian School) for wrestling.”
Johnson, who runs Ignition Fitness in Valencia, doesn’t expect any of the kids from last year’s team to try and transfer to Valencia, the only other school in the SCV that has a wrestling program.
“On a personal level, it stinks,” said Trinity athletic director Matt Dixon. “We had many talented wrestlers and it was heartbreaking for us to not give them the ability to continue wrestling for us. Just going off of population metrics, and which kids were playing which sports, we had to make a decision and this one made the most sense, unfortunately.”
The Knights were coming off a second-place finish in the Heritage League last season and had seven returnees on the eight-person team. Trinity also discontinued its boys beach volleyball team due to the same reasoning.
“It’s disappointing because we were coming off our best year as a program and I thought we were gaining some momentum,” Johnson said. “I’d chalk it up to basketball being more of the status quo.
“I’m disappointed but I understand the reasoning behind the decision.”
Johnson still plans to work with the team’s wrestlers at Ignition Fitness and was not aware if any planned on wrestling at the club level this season. Johnson may join friend Brian Peterson — Valencia wrestling head coach — as a coach for the Vikings, but has yet to make a decision on that.
“I hope the kids take away the work ethic they learned from wrestling and, hopefully, they’ll seek out club teams,” Johnson said. “Luckily, I’ll still be able to help mentor them somewhat at my gym. But, obviously, it’s sad to see the program go.”