The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

June 25, 2012

Finch steps down at Joplin to take over Clinton wrestling

Shawn Finch is the new head wrestling coach at Clinton (Okla.) High School.

Finch, an Oklahoma native, has been head wrestling coach at Joplin High School for the past eight years.

“I’ll be able to work with my wrestlers year-round during school,” said Finch, whose new team competes in Oklahoma Class 4A. Wrestling in Oklahoma is divided among Classes 6A, 5A, 4A and 3A.

“I’ll only have to teach four classes,” he said. “It’s closer to home. I’m originally from Norman, so it’s about an hour and a half away.”

Finch has a daughter whose first birthday is next month.

Clinton, population 9,000, is in western Oklahoma near Interstate 40 on former U.S. Highway 66. The high school is known in Oklahoma for its football team, the Red Tornadoes, whose 15 state championships rank second to Ada. The school’s mascot is a tornado named Tony.

Finch has a bachelor’s degree in physical education with a minor in Spanish from East Central University at Ada. He coached wrestling at Lexington, Okla., before he accepted the position at Joplin.

“I didn’t know anything about Joplin,” Finch said. “When I got here, there were 12 guys on the team. I had a state champion at Lexington and Joplin hadn’t had one.

“I’ve had several kids wrestle for me who are now in coaching,” Finch said. Jim Hudson, head basketball coach at Wyandotte, Okla., was formerly an assistant wrestling coach under Finch.

Finch said what he will remember most about Joplin are “all the great people, all the great families and great kids,” he said. “I’m leaving the program in a lot better situation than it was.”

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