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Poliak to step down, Johnson to coach PHS wrestling

Jeff Poliak began with the Prescott High School wrestling program in 1997. Herald file photo

PRESCOTT - After 12 seasons as head coach of the Prescott High School wrestling program, Jeff Poliak has decided to retire.

The announcement came at last month's school board meeting. The Cardinals' assistant coach, Paul Johnson, will be the next head coach staring this fall.

"The timing is right," Poliak said. "I really feel the program is looking for youth an enthusiasm to keep going in the right direction."

Poliak is confidence Johnson, a two-time state runner-up when he wrestled for the Redbirds, can provide both.

"The kids respond to him," Poliak said. "He came through this program and accomplished a lot and given his age and background I have no doubt the kids will relate to him well. He's more than ready to take charge."

Johnson takes over a program that has gone 17-41 in Middle Border Conference dual meets since it joined the league in 2002-03. PHS had back-to-back winning seasons in league action in 2006 and 2007, but have struggled since both in results and in turnout.

"We need to get kids out to be competitive in this league," Johnson said. "One of the ideas I have is to have our middle schoolers practice with us until their season starts in late December to keep them with the program throughout."

Also needed is strong community backing, the kind that makes for good programs.

"We have three home dual meets this season and want them to be events where we draw good crowds and get the Prescott community excited about wrestling," Johnson said. "That will be a challenge and a goal for us alongside wins and losses."

Poliak started at Prescott in 1997 as an assistant coach. In 1998, he became the head coach and in 2000 his squad tied Glenwood City for the Dunn-St. Croix title.

Poliak has also coached state qualifiers and champions like Johnson, Willy Holst, Justin Murphy, Nick Swanson, John Kariesch, Jake Filkins, Josh Farr, Mike Feriancek, Tim Setala,

"I believe every kid who went through our program for four years was a better wrestler when they graduated than when they started," Poliak said. "I've been fortunate to been around kids who've always worked hard and were successful in that context. I also feel the parent support we had was excellent. I know I will have to make an adjustment when winter rolls around but I know I won't regret it."