Flowery Branch wrestling coach Shane Lancaster was quick to thwart the idea that his coaching had anything to do with his team’s success this year.
"I throw all the credit toward the wrestlers," Lancaster said. "They stepped up and performed, I just watched and cheered."
His modesty aside Lancaster, who has been the wrestling coach at Flowery Branch since the school opened in 2002 has done more than "watch and cheer," but has been the catalyst for building a winning program and, as a result, has been tabbed The Times 2008 All-Area Wrestling Coach of the Year.
This year Flowery Branch won its first Hall County Wrestling Championships winning a back and forth 14-match round with West Hall, the two-time defending champions.
The Falcons went 6-0 in the duals portion of the tournament and had six individual champions in the traditional portion.
"Ever since the school opened we’ve been in the running for this thing (Hall County championships)," Lancaster said after the meet. "And everytime it seems like we’ve come up short. This time our guys pulled through."
The Falcons also enjoyed the best finish of Hall County-based schools in the Region 7-AAA tournament placing fourth on the strength of two individual champions: Tom Pennington (215) and Danny Bell (112).
Pennington went on to place fourth in the Class AAA state tournament at 215 pounds while Ben Yu placed seventh at 140 pounds.
Lancaster, a 1995 graduate of West Hall High where he was a four-year letterman for the Spartans’ wrestling team, said that building a program takes more than a bevy of athletes but, also, "Community and parental support."
"Sports are becoming more specialized, which means that its more demanding on the athlete, coach and community," Lancaster said. "Luckily here at Flowery Branch we have kids willing to work and a community behind them."
Lancaster has high hopes for the future of his Falcons program, "We had an incredibly young team this year and, of course, we have high hopes and expectations for the future. Our kids are incredibly dedicated and willing to work."