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Tornado looks within to fill wrestling void

Believing that the North Medford High wrestling program is headed in the right direction, vice principal Ron Beick opted for continuity in filling the void left by Kacey McNulty's departure eight weeks ago.

Bill Jones, a five-year assistant for the Black Tornado, accepted the school's head coaching position Monday.

Obviously Kacey got the (wrestling) program headed in the right direction, and we think Bill can build on that, said Beick. We think he's got some strengths to build on in his technical knowledge. We also felt like the continuity factor was a real plus in keeping us going.

The Tornado qualified six wrestlers to the Class 4A state tournament this past season, finishing 13th overall after a fifth-place showing at the Southern Oregon Conference district tourney.

Expected to return next season among that group are juniors-to-be Chris Platt, Josh Smith, Jon Ulrey, Ryan Folsom and Johnny Vaigafa. Also expected to return are incoming senior Corey Oxford and junior-to-be Tim Endecott, who each placed fourth at last year's district tourney.

— I'm really excited, Jones said of his first head-coaching opportunity. I think the program is definitely on the upswing, and we're going to continue to do that.

I'm looking forward to the coming year with the kids to see what we can do with the program and how we can make a name for ourselves in the SOC.

Jones, who turns 31 next month, said McNulty welcomed his input and he was given plenty of responsibilities the past few seasons as an assistant.

Before going to North, Jones was an assistant for one year under Jeff Johnson at South Medford High and for one year under Mike Ritchey at Southern Oregon University.

I think he'll do a great job, McNulty said of Jones. He's a good guy, very motivated and a good technician, and I think he'll be a good wrestling coach for North.

He's a guy who knows what's going on with the school and knows the kids and he'll fit right in, added McNulty, who now heads the Eagle Point High program. I think it will be a smooth transition, hopefully.

Jones agreed that the continuity factor will be a big benefit for the returning kids, as well as those coming up in the youth programs.

I've had pretty good feedback from the kids, he said. So far I've been able to contact most all the kids we had at the end of the year, and it sounds like they're excited about me getting the job.

Jones has seen the North wrestling room build from about a dozen kids in his first year at the school to 45 this past season and hopes for an even greater turnout in the coming years.

We're excited to see where the future lies at North, he said. no means are we going to slow down. Our expectations are going to be high, and I expect the kids to work hard to keep this going.

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 776-4488, or e-mail