Longtime Nevada Union wrestling coach steps away from mat | TheUnion.com

Longtime Nevada Union wrestling coach steps away from mat

Will Sumner, front, with his father Gary Sumner pose together at their home in Lake Wildwood. Gary has been Will's wrestling coach since he was 3 years old. With Will in college, Gary is stepping away from the mat and spending more time with his daughter and wife.
Walter Ford/wford@theunion.com |

After nearly two decades of coaching Nevada Union wrestlers Gary Sumner is stepping away from the mat.

The long time assistant coach, and later head coach, is calling it quits after several years of training some of the best wrestlers to ever don a Nevada Union singlet.

“It’s definitely a source of pride,” Sumner said of his time as a wrestling coach.

Sumner, a former collegiate wrestler at Ball State and Sacramento State, first started at Nevada Union in 1997 and coached through 2015, minus five-years when he coached his son Will Sumner at Pleasant Valley school in Penn Valley.

Will has since come up through the Nevada Union program, graduating in 2014 and earning a wrestling scholarship to Utah Valley University.

“Being able to sit in my son’s corner for Masters and State were special moments,” said Gary.

Watching his son rise through the high school ranks and win Masters on his way to making the state tournament is just one of many highlights from a career spent helping young athletes learn life lessons through sport.

“The first really exciting moment was when Wade (Sauer) won the state championship,” Sumner said. “I was in his corner after and he was crying and gave me a big hug. Leading up to it he had pneumonia and was sick for like two weeks and I was really worried about him, but he said he was 80 percent and that he had enough to win this thing, and he did. It was an incredible moment to see that kid come so far.”

Sumner said he and Sauer stay in contact as he does with many of his past pupils.

“Watching the kids change and grow up is kind of neat,” he said. “I know wrestling had a real positive influence on my life. My coaches challenged me and when I was in dental school, everyone was complaining about seeing patients all day and doing lab work all night, and as a wrestler I knew how to out work everybody.”

A lesson he was more than happy to pass on to his young wrestlers.

But, with his son off at college and his daughter involved in several high school clubs and sports, Gary said it was time to step away from the mat and take up a larger interest in his daughter’s athletic exploits.

“I missed out on a lot of my daughter’s stuff,” he said. “She is involved in a lot and I want to be a part of it.”

He also said he will start getting back into some forgotten hobbies, such as golf, water skiing and fishing.

Gary leaves the NU wrestling program in the capable hands of Marlon Jackson, who just completed his first season as a coach for the Miners.

There have been many talented wrestlers to come through the program while Gary was coaching, including Sauer, Luke Manuel, Matt Manuel, Paul Gross, Drew Maralia, Jacob Purdy, Julian Purdy, Zac Callas, Robin Callas, Jonny Callas, and his son Will. Sumner said will never forget the many young grapplers that came through the gym while he was coaching.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email wford@theunion.com.

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