Aurora -- Greenmen wrestling head coach Dick Bliss confirmed earlier this week he is retiring from coaching after 44 years at the helm of Aurora's program.

He said he's planning to move to a house he recently bought in North Fort Myers, Fla. with his wife.

"We just feel like it's time to move on to the next phase of our lives, so that's what we're doing," he said. "The kids are going to be very well served, and I think it's the right time to step down."

Bliss said the wrestling program will be left in capable hands.

"The program is in such great shape, and I've got such great assistants who will hopefully be able to continue the program," he said.

Bliss said there are All-Ohio wrestlers from sixth to 12th grades.

"The organization is in the best shape it's ever been," he said. "If I felt like we were struggling or weren't in good shape, I wouldn't do this."

Some of his assistants have been groomed for leadership, but Bliss said he'll leave it to Athletic Director Paul Powers and the School Board to name his successor.

Aurora Superintendent Pat Ciccantelli said Bliss will be tough to replace.

"Dick has legendary status here and at the state level," he said. "He's done a phenomenal job and been an asset to this district and the kids in the community."

Ciccantelli said he hopes to present a candidate for the job to the School Board at its Oct. 24 meeting.

"We will look at as many candidates as we can to find that very best person, and that could include people within," said Ciccantelli.

Bliss said he'll be officially inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Oct. 16-18 in Columbus, and he'll just keep heading south to Florida.

In addition to being inducted into the hall of fame, Bliss recently received a proclamation from Mayor Ann Womer Benjamin, thanking him for his decades of service.

Bliss took over the wrestling program in the 1972-73 school year and also served as athletic director for 27 years.

The following year he began building Aurora's program by establishing Junior Aurora Wrestlers (JAWs).

"It doesn't happen automatically," he said of developing a healthy program. "You have to have good people involved.

"We have tremendous community support, and I've been blessed with having the families I have. It's a little bittersweet. I know we're making the right decision and doing the right things for all the right reasons.

"I will be following and cheering instead of being in the chair. I'll be wearing my short skirt and pom-poms."


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Twitter: @bobgaetjens_rpc