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La Cañada High wrestling turns to alumnus Justin Luthey

Wrestling: Spartans turn to former student, assistant coach in three sports to take over program.

August 07, 2013|By Andrew Shortall, andrew.shortall@latimes.com
  • FILE PHOTO: La Cañada High wrestler Guillermo Padilla, top, who advanced to the CIF State Meet, will look to build on his accomplishments under new, yet familiar coach Justin Luthey in his senior season.
FILE PHOTO: La Cañada High wrestler Guillermo… (Tim Berger/Staff…)

After La Cañada High wrestling lost its coach, who had more than a decade of history with the program, the Spartans turned to a familiar face.

Justin Luthey, who wrestled under and assisted alongside last year’s coach, Gavin Williams, has been tabbed to take over the program after being approved at a La Cañada Unified School Board meeting Tuesday night.

“We’re fortunate to have somebody that knows La Cañada, knows the kids, knows the culture,” La Cañada High Athletic Director Craig Franzen said. “Also, the fact he’s worked with Gavin gives us a little bit of continuity with the program.”

Luthey graduated from La Cañada in 2007 and St. Olaf College in Minnesota, where he wrestled and played football, with double majors in economics and ancient studies in 2011. He received his master’s degree in sports management from Cal State Long Beach earlier this year.

The 24-year old wasn’t away from the Spartans long, as he served as an assistant coach on the football team from 2008-11. In addition to wrestling, he was an assistant track and field coach last year.

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“He’s done the next level and understand what it takes and he’s very committed,” said Williams, who stepped down to spend more time with his family and newborn daughter, of Luthey. “When he was on the team he was a leader. He understands what commitment it takes. He brings in a great work ethic.”

It’s all been luck on how things fell into place for the program, Williams said.

“He wasn’t supposed to or expected to be my assistant coach, having him show up when he did and volunteer his time and energy was just a very lucky bonus I couldn’t have expected or counted on,” Williams said. “The school really went out of its way to make sure we got a coach. He had some interest and they called him. There’s not a lot of people that can or want to coach wrestling for the pay.”

Luthey’s motivation to take over the team was to keep the wrestling program, to which he won three Rio Hondo League championships as a heavyweight, progressing.

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