Moments after Montesano wrestler Kylar Prante earned a chance to wrestle for third place at the state tournament on Feb. 22, the sophomore leaped into coach Jeff Klinger’s arms. A few seconds later, he was jumping into assistant coach Jeff Catterlin’s arms.
The smiles on Catterlin and Prante’s faces were priceless as the two enjoyed hard work paying off.
This season was the best for Montesano wrestling since Klinger took over the program in 2006 and he was quick to give praise to his assistant who has been coaching alongside him for almost a decade.
“He has done above and beyond what an assistant coach should do,” Klinger said. “He is great with the kids. They love him. He would do anything for them and they know that. If you need him for something he will be there.”
Montesano had more wrestlers go to the state wrestling tournament than any other high school in Grays Harbor County with six Bulldogs competing at the Mat Classic. The Bulldogs finished ninth in the state for 1A high schools with three wrestlers placing third in the state. Coaches around the region took notice of Montesano this season and recognized the role Catterlin played in the success by naming him assistant of the year for the region at the regional wrestling tournament in Blaine on Feb. 15.
“What it really means is we have a great coaching staff,” Catterlin said. “I believe it is a team award. It can be viewed as singular, but I think it is a team award and all of the coaching staff owns a chunk of it. The wrestlers show up and make us look good. If they didn’t buy in, then awards like this wouldn’t exist.”
Catterlin was nominated for the award by Hoquiam coach Fidel Sanchez and all of the other coaches from the region selected his name from the list of nominees. Klinger said Catterlin doesn’t just go above and beyond with his own wrestlers, he also is willing to help wrestlers from other schools.
“It is not just with our kids,” Klinger said. “He loves wrestling and he goes out of his way to help people. We were at North Beach this year and Hoquiam’s 106-pound wrestler got dumped on his head and Jeff was right there trying to help him. He is not afraid to go up to kids in our league and give them a pointer. He just wants to see our league and our teams be successful.”
Catterlin wrestled at Elma High School from 1996-2000 before heading to Central Washington University. He did his student teaching at Montesano and when a position as head coach opened up, he hoped to get a chance to help the next coach. He got more than he bargined for and was given the position of assistant coach.
“A couple days later, Coach Klinger calls me and said ‘You got an interview,’ I said, ‘Interview, I just wanted to help out,’ Catterlin said.
The two have worked together to bring the program success with Klinger working with the heavier weights and Catterlin and assistant coach Darold Cain working with the lower weight wrestlers on techniques. This year has been unlike any other for the coaches.
“This has been the best state tournament year to date for me,” Catterlin said. “These kids really put their heart out there. We have a lot of kids that don’t want the spotlight on them, they don’t want the limelight, they want to go out there and take care of business.”
Just like his wrestlers, Catterlin prefers to stay out of the limelight and gives all the credit for the award to the rest of the coaching staff. Whether he wants the accolades or not Prante said he and the rest of the Bulldogs agree with the regional coaches selection.
“He wants you to do as best you can and tells you that you can do it all the time,” Prante said. “When you win he gets so excited about your win. He is a such nice guy.”