As St. Mary Central Catholic wrestling coach Jude Roth embarks on his final season leading the Panthers, residents, fans and rivals should offer congratulations for his accomplishments.
Entering his 21st season, Roth leaves the program as the winningest, most tenured and decorated wrestling coach in school history. In 20 seasons, Roth's teams finished in the top 10 an impressive 16 times, including five consecutive state championships dating back to 2002.
Over that time, Roth helped guide seven state championship teams, 118 state qualifiers, and out of those qualifiers 74 have gone on to place and 23 won state championships.
Although those are impressive numbers, it's what Roth has done for the reputation of the school that should be most appreciated. It's something that will be realized for a long time. In wrestling circles, the mention of St. Mary Central Catholic brings about different reactions from people in the community. Love it or hate it, nobody can dismiss its greatness.
The accomplishments fill alumni, students -- athlete or not -- with a sense of pride. They know graduating from a school with such accomplishments is a badge of honor that can never be taken away. That badge can be worn by the staff as well as parents and students who do not participate in sports. The badge of honor was created, in large part, thanks to Roth and his coaches during the last 20 years. No other program in our coverage area can boast such success.
Even in times of controversy, Roth stood up to critics. When the Ohio High School Athletic Association fined and put the program on probation for alleged recruiting violations, Roth dismissed the allegations and went to a higher source, the Ohio justice system.
In the end, the OHSAA never admitted to making any mistakes in its investigation, yet a judge ordered the source of the allegations that led to the investigation to pay Roth and an assistant coach a total of $85,000. Yet another victory for the Panthers.
Take notice this season of what Roth and his staff have accomplished and thank him for his efforts. As with many things in this world, you will never truly appreciate what he has done until he's no longer doing them.