MOUNT VERNON — The Mount Vernon wrestling team has a new face at the head of the program, with Nate Cornell taking over as head coach, coming over after four years at Buckeye Valley.
“I wanted to come here because of the name — what it is and what it can be — the surrounding community and the family aspect,” Cornell said. “The draw is huge. It’s always been such a big name. … Mount Vernon is always a big program. They have a name in Central Ohio and around the state.”
Cornell is a 2007 graduate of Delaware Hayes High School, where he wrestled all four years, reaching districts each season, but never punching his ticket to state. He admitted he didn’t have the drive it took to make it to state and he hopes he can use that as a lesson for his current wrestlers.
Following graduation from Delaware Hayes, Cornell enrolled in Wilmington College and wrestled for a year, before transferring to Ohio State University — Marion, where he got in to coaching. He transferred again to finish out his college tenure at Ohio Dominican University, where he continued to coach, spending four years on the wrestling staff at Westerville South.
The new Jacket then began coaching at Buckeye Valley, spending time as an assistant for three years, before taking over as head coach last year.
“It’s everything I would have hoped for,” Cornell said of his time at Buckeye Valley. “It was my own program. I started a youth program and helped at the middle school and I ran the high school.”
Despite leading his own program last winter, the draw to take over the Jacket program and help it from top to bottom was too much for Cornell and he applied and accepted the job, taking over with summer workouts this past summer.
“Our youth program is huge,” Cornell said. “In order to have success, you need to build from the ground up, starting with the youth and going up to the middle school. From the ground up, all I have to do is preserve it and keep it going.”
In order to try and preserve the legacy, Cornell has kept the Mount Vernon coaching staff in tact, allowing for a smoother head coaching transition.
“When I took the job, I wanted to keep the family aspect,” Cornell said of maintaining the current staff. “I don’t want it to be a wrestling team, but a wrestling family.”
One of the coaches joining Cornell in the Jacket corner of the mat this winter is John Frye, the head coach who stepped down after last year. Frye has remained on staff as a volunteer coach.
“He’s really been helping me along in this buffer as a first-year coach,” Cornell said. “He has been showing me the ropes and been tremendous in helping me out.”
Nate Cornell will not be the only Cornell in the Mount Vernon wrestling room this winter. In addition to keeping the old staff on board, he added his brother, Matt, and father, Barney, who has been coaching wrestling since the 1970s, to the staff. The Cornell trio all coached together at Westerville South and Nate coached with Barney during his time at OSU — Marion.
“I trust those guys and they have been through everything with me,” Nate Cornell said. “We have very similar styles. It’s always been in our family.”
The Jackets have been putting in work since summer workouts, continuing through the fall season, with workouts and conditionings each week leading up the kickoff of the season. The team returns three seniors, including state qualifier Max VanFossen.
“If you buy in, we are going to be great,” Cornell said of his team leading up to the season. “We have to work hard to improve. The things we do now will get you to be where you want to be at the end of the season.”