By Rick Nolte, Sports Editor
After more than 40 years, Gary Jonseck says it’s time to see something other than the inside of a wrestling room for months on end.
Jonseck said Friday he’s resigning his position as wrestling coach at Lemon Bay High School effective today, in part, so he and his wife, Marsha, can check off some items on the travel portion of their bucket list.
“We’re leaving town tomorrow,” said Jonseck, who said Florida’s Keys, the Grand Tetons and everything in between will be on an itinerary at some point in the future.
Lemon Bay has not yet named his replacement.
Jonseck, who coached 36 years in Michigan beginning in the mid-1970s, has been with the Manta Rays since the 2010-11 season.
“I told the administration I’d give them five years,” Jonseck said. “I got that and told them I’d keep working on a day-to-day basis until they could find someone (as a replacement).”
The Manta Rays had 117 dual meet wins under Jonseck along with district championships in 2012 and ‘13. A total of 22 Lemon Bay wrestlers qualified for the state tournament during his tenure with seven earning medals, topped by Trent Kesling’s third-place finish at 170 pounds in 2013.
“We had a lot of success that I’m proud to have been involved with,” the coach said. “The most important thing, though, is to let the community know I really enjoyed working with their kids to help them experience some special things in life.”
Lemon Bay Athletic Director Ryan LaVallee was appreciative of Jonseck’s work.
“From the time when I started this job, Coach Jonseck told me I needed to look for a long-term replacement for him because he was ready to retire,” Lavallee said. “That’s why he came down here. He’s given a lot of himself for this program, and we’ll forever be grateful.”
Jonseck isn’t totally cutting his ties to the sport, however. He said he’ll continue to be involved with the Englewood Wrestling Club and remain coach at LA Anger Middle School.
“I’m just giving up the high school hat,” said Jonseck, who will continue with the district as a substitute teacher when needed. “I’ll still be involved with the younger guys.”
Sports writer Bryan Levine contributed to this report.