After 38 years coaching wrestling at Winchester High School, Larry Tremblay was ready to call it quits in April. He was the Globe’s Division 2 Coach of the Year and the owner of a 729-95-5 record that made him the winningest coach in Massachusetts wrestling history. A house in Florida awaited for the winter.
But with the start of the new season, Tremblay is right back in the wrestling room, though with a different school for the first time in almost four decades. He’s filling a head coaching vacancy at Melrose, a league rival of his longtime team.
The legendary coach will look to take a talented roster at Melrose High School — including a pair of juniors, Sean Herbert and Globe Athlete of the Year Hunter Adrian — and produce the kind of success he achieved at Winchester.
“They left us some talent at Melrose, for sure,” Tremblay said. “You can go into a place and coach them and turn things around if there’s talent there.” Along with Adrian and Herbert, that includes the two other captains, Stephen MacIntosh and Jackson Curran.
Adrian, who competed at 106 pounds last year, went a perfect 50-0 his sophomore season to improve to 97-5 in his career. He won his second D3 North, D3 State, and All-State titles, and his first New England title in a tour de force of a season.
“He’s the real deal,” Tremblay said of Adrian. “He’s a great student, he’s got some Ivy League schools looking at him. I’m really excited about coaching him.”
Adrian said he’s not trying to change anything in particular for his third high school season, except to “keep practicing and working hard, and keep getting better.”
Herbert, who started wrestling in the second grade and placed in states as an eighth-grader, said he and Adrian create a dynamic duo of sorts. Herbert said his biggest strength is his athleticism, while Adrian dominates with his technical prowess.
“Sometimes I can use [my athleticism] to get out of sticky situations,” Herbert said, “whether it’s a scramble or maybe I need to be quick on a takedown.”
He described Adrian as “one of the most technical, smartest wrestlers I know. He has a million different moves he can pull out of his back pocket.”
Herbert started out in wrestling because his father told him it would make him a better football player. (He also plays football at Melrose High, where he helped the Red Raiders to a Thanksgiving win over Wakefield this year.) But the sports have become equal in importance to him as he’s grown older.
“I like what wrestling teaches,” Herbert said. “It’s all on you. If you do everything right, you win. I love football as a team sport, and with wrestling it’s an individual thing, and that’s really what I like about it.”
Herbert and Adrian are both excited to get started under Tremblay, though they both mentioned that they’ll miss their old coach, James Bleiler.
“[Tremblay] was coaching Winchester when my dad was in high school,” Herbert said. “When I went down to nationals in Virginia, he was in my corner. He’s a really good guy.”
A confluence of events persuaded Tremblay to consider the Melrose head coaching job. For one thing, Bleiler had left the job. For another, Tremblay and his wife are expecting a grandchild, and they’d like to stick around in Massachusetts.
“I figured if I’m going to be hanging around up here I might as well coach more,” he said. “We just want to have some fun and coach. We’re being left with some great kids. The talent is there for us to coach them.”
Tremblay said it’s “definitely bittersweet” to be leaving his job of 38 years, but he feels better about the situation because three of his former wrestlers will be coaching at Winchester High.
Charlie Wolfson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.