Recalling Ryan Harrington’s wonderful wrestling career

By Steve Sears

Success is nothing new to former West Morris Mendham High School wrestler, Ryan Harrington.

Whether he was the grappler himself or is coaching them, Harrington believes in preparation, and he is a happy guy when that leads to a win.

“We had a good weekend with the Green Wave,” he said of the Delbarton School’s 2023 – 24 wrestling team, for whom he is in his third season as assistant coach. The club bested St. Joseph’s Regional of Montvale, 30 – 22 on February 12 to recapture the Non-Public Team Championship.

Harrington said of coaching, “I see these guys as little brothers, and I think my job is to come in simplify things for them. Wrestling can get chaotic and complex, but sometimes you just have to get back to the fundamentals and make things simple.”

And again, for Harrington, who grew up in Chester, it was always about preparation. He said, “Honestly, it was just putting in the time. While you are warming up and telling yourself that you did every single thing you could, did not leave any stone unturned to try to accomplish a goal, that is when you really get the results. You are not thinking out there – you just let it fly.”

Harrington translated the above practice into an accomplished high school and collegiate career. During his four seasons as a West Morris Mendham Minutemen wrestler, Harrington had a won – loss record of 139 – 11, but during his junior and senior years, he went undefeated at 84 – 0. He followed that with a two-year, 49 – 10 record at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Harrington, 30, at West Morris Mendham was coached by Steven Baig.

“It was special,” he recalled of his high school years. “Constantly going to Friday night games and doing every match I could. Also, my brother being a senior when I came in as freshmen gave me a little extra edge to try to hang with the bigger guys.”

Harrington won the state championship at 160 pounds in 2011 and at 170 pounds in 2012, and after attending the University of North Carolina for one year, he sought a new school to wrestle for. Courtesy of the recommendation of his trainer, former Coe College All-American grappler, Shawn Hall, he contacted the Kohawks head coach, John Oostendorp, and in 2014 had a new mat home.

Harrington wrestled collegiately as a sophomore and junior (injuries denied him his senior season). He was selected as an All-American both seasons, and during the latter campaign at 174 pounds won the Luther L. Hill Invitational Tournament. His 4 – 0 tourney record garnered him both Iowa Conference Male Athlete and Wrestler of the Week awards, and he graduated Coe College in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in political science.

After returning home to New Jersey, Harrington’s next step was as an assistant coach for three seasons at Pope John XXIII High School in Sparta, and then on to his current stint at Delbarton in Morristown.

Harrington said he owes his success to his coaches, friends, and family (his parents are William and Bernadette, and he is a sibling to one brother, Bill, and a sister, Kasey), but he also knows that the proper mindset plows the path.

He said, “You control your own destiny. No one is going to give you anything. But everything is right there for the taking if you want to work for it.”

 

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