Pioneer Valley has hired a new head coach for the boys and girls wrestling programs, the school announced on Thursday.
Longtime West Hills College and Lemoore High School head coach Kent Olson will lead the Panthers' wrestling programs after Kevin Ilac resigned earlier this year, Pioneer Valley athletic director Greg Lanthier said in an email to the Times.
Olson spent the past 10 seasons coaching West Hills men's wrestling team in Lemoore. Before that, Olson was Lemoore High's coach for 20 years, Lanthier said.
"This was one of the most important hires I have been involved with in my six years as AD," Lanthier said, according to a school-issued press release. "Coach Kevin Ilac, who recently resigned, built the PVHS wrestling program from the school’s inception to its current status as a Central Coast powerhouse.
"By any measure, it is the most prestigious and successful sport program on our campus. We felt it was critical to try and hire somebody that had the credentials to continue building on coach Ilac’s success, and perhaps push the program to another level."
Olson was inducted into the California Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2014. His career will now continue at Pioneer Valley, stepping in for Ilac.
"PVHS is very fortunate that somebody of coach Olson’s stature was available and interested in being that person," Lanthier said.
Ilac remains at Pioneer Valley in his teaching position while pursuing his administration credential, Lanthier said. Ilac has also coached wrestling and taught at Santa Maria High School, before moving over to Pioneer Valley in 2006. Ilac built Pioneer Valley's girls wrestling program from the ground up, consistently sending wrestlers to four-year programs while the boys side has contended for league championships and at the CIF Southern Section divisional level.
Olson won 16 West Yosemite League team championships at Lemoore High and his wrestlers captured 101 individual WYL titles and 17 valley championships. At the state level, Olson had 24 wrestlers place and four state champions.
"Coach Olson currently has the second most all-time wins in the state of California," Lanthier said.
Pioneer Valley will move to the CIF Central Section, which includes Lemoore, after the 2017-18 school year.
The Pioneer Valley girls team advanced 13 of its 14 wrestlers to the CIF-SS Masters Meet, the most of any Northern Regional team, when it captured its fourth straight CIF-SS Northern Regional title in January.