The Bulldog wrestling program is in the hands of one of its own former star wrestlers.
Danny Neff, a 2007 graduate and current fourth grade teacher at Muldown Elementary School, is the new head coach of the Whitefish High School wrestling program.
He was an assistant under previous coach Ryan Boyle for the last two years. As a student, he was a three-time Class A Divisional Champion and Class A All-State wrestler.
Neff says as a former Bulldog wrestler, he brings a strong understanding and passion for the sport to his new role.
“I love the sport,” he said. “It’s just you and your opponent and there’s really nothing better. You can’t blame others for your failures, it’s all you.”
Boyle’s resignation came as a surprise, Neff said, but after consulting with his dad and former coach Tim Neff and Boyle, he decided it was the right time to step up.
For one, he wanted to capitalize on the relationships he’s built with his student athletes over the last couple years.
“I had a great relationship with all the kids and I didn’t want to leave a lot of those kids into hands that they weren’t sure of. We’ve just built trust throughout the last few years,” he said.
Part of that is helping to communicate to parents how grueling the wrestling season can be, he said.
He’s lived that routine as a Bulldog wrestler himself.
“It’s a tough sport. You’ve got to watch your weight, you need to put in the effort, not just in the weight room but in the classroom. It’s a job for three months, and I don’t think a lot of parents really understand that,” he said.
Maintaining those relationships while continuing to build the program is the top priority, he said.
Last year’s team had two placers in the state tournament and took 17th overall as a team.
Neff inherits a young team with some experienced leaders, namely captains Dakota Flannery and Camren Ross, as well as Nathan Sproul and Jackson Carson.
“There’s always space for building. I think we have a lot of room to improve here at Whitefish High School. The sport of wrestling has kind of died down and one of my biggest goals is to kind of build it back up,” he said.