Ashland hires new baseball, wrestling coach

Ashland High has a new baseball and wrestling coach.

John Wallace, who assisted the baseball program last year, has accepted the position of head coach. He replaces Paul Westhelle.

Meanwhile, Tony Champion takes over head wrestling duties from Bill Bowers, who stepped down after his third stint at the helm for the Grizzlies.

Wallace was a key member of national championship teams at Oregon State University in 2008 and 2009, leading the Beavers as the captain his senior year. He stayed on as a graduate assistant in 2010 and joined the Ashland staff as the junior varsity coach this past spring.

Wallace graduated from Reno High.

"Along with his wealth of baseball knowledge, he brings an enthusiasm and excitement to the program that we expect to energize kids," Ashland athletic director Karl Kemper said in a press release.

After three years as an assistant and one as a head coach, Westhelle decided not to return, Kemper said. The Grizzlies were 17-10 overall and fell to Sherwood in the Class 5A state quarterfinals last spring.

"He has been a key cog in developing our players and maintaining the high standard that our program has set for itself over the time he's been here," Kemper said of Westhelle.

Bowers coached during the 1980s and returned to lead the program when it was reinstated in 2006. He coached for two years before discontinuing his role in 2008, but came back to led the program the past two years.

Champion, who attended Ashland High before transferring to Eagle Point and winning a state championship there his senior year, has volunteered as an assistant the previous two years. He was a three-time national champion and four-time All-American at Portland State University, where he assisted after completing his eligibility.

"He has the perfect balance of toughness and caring that we seek in our coaches," Kemper said. "His knowledge level is very high and he is an excellent teacher of skills. He pushes kids beyond what they think they are capable of. He is demanding but truly cares about them as people."

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