Kibler named Sherando head wrestling coach

Sherando assistant wrestling coach Brian Kibler stands beside Deshawn Lee during a match against Liberty in January 2018 at Handley High School in Winchester. Kibler has been named head coach for Sherando taking over the reins for Pepper Martin. Rich Cooley/Daily

Brian Kibler has always wanted to be a head wrestling coach again, and on Wednesday he got his wish.

The 2002 Strasburg graduate was named the new Sherando head wrestling coach, replacing Pepper Martin who stepped down a few weeks ago after 25 years at the helm. Kibler was the head wrestling coach at Strasburg for two years before coming to Sherando as an assistant coach in 2008.

“I’m excited to have this opportunity again,” Kibler said in a phone interview on Wednesday afternoon. “It’s the type of thing that some people never get the opportunity to do once and for me to have the opportunity not only at Strasburg but also at Sherando, which both have fine wrestling traditions, is quite exciting and something I look forward to.”

Martin was the only head wrestling coach at Sherando since the school opened in 1993. Kibler was an assistant under Martin for the last 10 years and said he was a great mentor and that he learned a lot from him.

“I know when I first started coaching I was probably more of a wrestler than I was a coach that just kind of fell into a good situation with some good kids,” Kibler said. “And he kind of opened my eyes a little bit more to things that I wasn’t doing before or maybe I was doing before but I just did it by accident by watching what my coaches previous to me had done.”

Kibler won three state championships as a wrestler at Strasburg and then wrestled for four years at James Madison University. He graduated from JMU in 2006 and again in 2007 (with his master’s degree).

As a coach at Strasburg, Kibler led the Rams to two third-place finishes in the Virginia High School League state wrestling tournament. Kibler said he learned a lot from his previous head coaching experience and his last 10 years at Sherando.

Sherando has had a lot of success as a program over the last 25 years, winning 11 district titles, five regional titles and finished in the top five in the state tournament five times. Last year the Warriors went 19-9 as a team.

Kibler said he likes where the wrestling program is at right now and where it can go in the following seasons.

“I think the next couple of years we’re going to have a couple pretty good young kids,” Kibler said. “And I think I really like some of the younger kids we have on the team now. We have a delicate mix of some of the middle lightweights that are a little bit more experienced. And then we have some upper weights that are young and talented, but they just don’t have as much experience as everybody else. So getting them the kind of experience they need to be able to perform in the postseason over this year, I think will be key for us coming up next February. That and trying to sharpen the skills of those middle lightweights that we have that have the experience, and hopefully be able to sharpen the swords for them going into the postseason. And I think that will be key to our success next year.”

Kibler is a health and physical education teacher at Sherando and is also part of Sherando’s football coaching staff.

Since Kibler has been an assistant wrestling coach for the last 10 years he said it should be a smooth transition for him stepping into the head coach role. He said it helps a lot that he already knows the wrestlers and they know him.

“It’s a great thing,” Kibler said. “There’s no honeymoon period. They know who I am. I lay it out on the line. They know what to expect from me, my demeanor everything as far as those things are concerned.”

Martin said that he has faith that Kibler will keep the program going strong and will make a great coach to lead the wrestlers.

“I’m very pleased that coach Kibler has been selected as my successor,” Martin said in a news release. “He’s a young, energetic coach who I believe will not only maintain the program’s excellence but help it rise to a level that we haven’t reached previously.”

Kibler said he and assistant coach Jim Straight plan on meeting in the next couple weeks to talk about some ideas to help build on the program and make it even better.

Kibler said that at the end of the day the wrestlers are the ones who will decide how successful the program can be through their hard work and dedication.

“Individuals can be very productive on the mat just by paying attention to the things we’re saying, what we’re doing and why we’re doing it,” Kibler said. “But ultimately in an individual sport it comes down to the individual and we want to try to hammer that home to as many individuals as possible. And if we are successful it will be kudos more to the wrestlers being able to tap into the resources they have around them than it will be us.”