Bluejay head wrestling coach Scott Arneson recently stepped down after 17 years at the helm and 27 years in the program, leaving a void at the top of one of the best programs in the state in the sport.
Thursday afternoon his replacement was announced and Activities Director Rick Bonnell didn’t have to look far to find it.
Long-time assistant and program helper Brian Suchocki was tabbed for the job.
“I’m excited at this opportunity to be a head coach,” Suchocki said. “I’m looking forward to working with the coaches, wrestlers, parents and alumni.
“I’ve always wanted to be a head coach. I was one before (Boyceville, 1997-99). When I came here, this was Arnie’s program and I was fine with that. But as soon as this opportunity arose, yeah, I wanted to do it.”
Suchocki came to Merrill after Boyceville to “get back in my neck of the woods.”
He lived most of his early life Stevens Point and even attended UW-SP, where he played wrestled.
Suchocki feels his past experience will serve him well.
“I’ve coached the middle school before and lately I’ve been running the youth program,” he said. “I’ve been involved with a lot of the processes at the high school level. Arnie has been a great mentor, the same with Roger Wendorf. I can’t ask for two better mentors than that.”
Both Arneson and Wendorf are members of the Wisconsin Wrestling Coaches Hall of Fame, while Wendorf is also in the National Wrestling Coaches Hall of Fame.
So, what will change and what will remain the same?
“Many of the coaches will back,” Suchocki said. “This will be the first year Roger will be out of the realm, the same with (long-time assistant) Mark Weix. So there will be a little change there. We still have a great crew of coaches.
“I’ll put a little different spin on things, but what we’ve done in the past will be a big part of what I do, too.”
For next season, Suchocki notes, “Our numbers have been a little bit smaller so it might be a great time to take it over. Hopefully we get some new kids to try the sport.”