‘Just kind of a shock to everybody’: Wrestling community mourns the sudden loss of longtime Grizzlies coach

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The loss of Wichita Northwest High School head wrestling coach Eric Prichard has hit the wrestling community pretty hard.

Prichard died Tuesday at just 46 years old, leaving behind a wife, two young children, and many others he’s had an impact on over the years.

He coached the Grizzlies for 18 years. In 15 of those seasons, Ron Russell was right by his side, serving as an assistant coach.

“Just kind of a shock to everybody,” said Russell. “I think everybody is still a little bit numb.”

On the mat, the Grizzlies found plenty of success under Prichard’s leadership.

“We had, I think, 13 individual state champions and we were city league champions four years in a row,” said Russell.

Russell says when Prichard got to Northwest they’d have anywhere from 10 to 12 kids go out for wrestling. Over the years, Prichard would build up the program and have around 70 kids out for wrestling every year.

“He’s probably the most competitive guy that you could ever meet, he hated to lose, he hated for kids to not give their absolute best on the mat,” said Russell.

Prichard wrestled under and even served as an assistant coach at Wichita South for David Nigg before coming to Northwest. Eventually, Nigg would follow him there to serve as an assistant under his formal pupil.

“He’s always wanted to win even the matches that didn’t make any difference, he wanted to win them all,” said Nigg.

Nigg would get emotional when asked what he’d miss the most about the longtime Grizzlies coach.

“His laugh, yeah,” said Nigg.

Prichard was also an assistant football and baseball coach during his time at Northwest.

Aaron Haselwood was a student-teacher at Northwest and coached freshman and JV baseball with Prichard in 2009.

Haselwood, now the head wrestling coach at Wichita East, says whether it was on the diamond or the mat, that Prichard made an impact.

“He’d have upwards of 70 kids out for wrestling every year, I just can’t imagine, 70 times 18 years there at Northwest, how many kids he impacted,” said Haselwood. “I was really looking forward to competing against him.”

Prichard also served as a social studies teacher at Northwest.

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