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Coach Kistler is bringing back Moorpark wrestling one step at a time

Coach+Kistler+during+wrestling+practice+explaining+to+his+students+techniques+for+how+to+pin+down+their+opponent.+Photo+credit%3A+Kevin+Sanders
Coach Kistler during wrestling practice explaining to his students techniques for how to pin down their opponent. Photo credit: Kevin Sanders

Coach Kistler during wrestling practice explaining to his students techniques for how to pin down their opponent. Photo credit: Kevin Sanders

Coach Kistler during wrestling practice explaining to his students techniques for how to pin down their opponent. Photo credit: Kevin Sanders

By Alex Behunin

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In less than two years Coach Lindley Kistler has managed to transform the Moorpark College wrestling program, but it’s been a work in progress.

“As a coach, I must try my hardest because my staff and I only have two years with these kids to get them ready to be successful wrestlers,” said Kistler. “If they want to go to a four year university that has a great wrestling program, believe me they will have the tools and I will have them ready.”

When asked why Kistler chose Moorpark College he said, “I was an assistant coach at the time and after the head coach left, I had a club team and I wanted those kids who wanted higher learning and wanted to excel to have somewhere to go. My vision is to have high school kids and of course kids who want to wrestle, a place where they can come and learn. That’s why I chose Moorpark College.”

Kistler was hired in April of 2017 as the new wrestling coach. Moorpark College had not had a wrestling program since 2009 due to budget cuts. Before the program was put on hold, it was the college’s most successful athletic program, having won five state championships.

Kistler, who trained with legendary wrestling coaches Dan Gable of Iowa State University and Bobby Douglas of Arizona State University, has a lot of knowledge and experience to share with his wrestlers.

“Coach Kistler was our top candidate,” said Vance Manakas, the athletic director of Moorpark College. “Our program, under the leadership of Coach Kistler is where we would expect it to be as a second-year program.”

With the wrestling program being reinstated after years of it being defunct, it brought some struggle the first year.

“The wrestlers showed up, we had a summer program which was [about] a month-and-half, and then we started the season,” said Kistler. “Not only did they not know me but they were learning everything from a different perspective with a different philosophy. I was trying to teach all these wrestlers with different ways of learning into one philosophy.”

When asked about education, Kistler responded with “If you don’t get good grades, wrestling isn’t even an issue. Education is first. I encourage the kids in my gym and even the ones that aren’t wrestling this year to do the two years here at Moorpark and then go to a university. They all know that this program is just a gateway to get to a four-year university.”

Last year Bakersfield College took first place and Moorpark tied for second place in the Western State Conference. Moorpark College did represent at the California Community College Athletic Association State Championships. They had four wrestlers compete: Richie Vaillancourt (125), Josh Koning (165), Robert Flores (174), and Marcos Martinez (174). Three of the four wrestlers placed which is quite the accomplishment for a first-year program.

“Coach Kistler is an incredible coach,” said Rich Vaillancourt, team captain of the Moorpark wrestling team. “With his leadership I really believe my team and I have a chance to compete for state championships.”

Moorpark College has an upcoming wrestling dual October 26, 2018 against East Los Angeles.

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