High School Sports

Whale Branch's Massey to take over HHH wrestling program

As his children grow older, Mike Newton knew he would someday give up his post as Hilton Head High's wrestling head coach.

Keith Massey allowed him to implement that plan sooner than expected.

Newton announced this week he will not return as Hilton Head High's wrestling coach next season, simultaneously handing over the reins to Massey, who coached Whale Branch High's inaugural season. Massey spent more than a decade coaching in the wrestling hotbed of Iowa.

Newton said the decision to step down was difficult, but one he planned to make in the near future.

"My parents were always at every one of my events, and I remember how much that meant to me," Newton said. "I want to give my kids the same thing."

Newton will remain with the Seahawks as an assistant coach for Massey. He said he was impressed when he heard of Massey's background and approached him during the offseason about taking over the Seahawks program.

Massey coached at his high school alma matter, Lewis Central in Council Bluffs, Iowa, for eight seasons, and quickly made the program one of the state's best. Lewis Central won back-to-back state championships in 2000 and 2001 and won an astounding 73 consecutive matches over a three-year period. He was named Iowa's Class 3-A Wrestling Coach of the Year in 2000.

He moved to Whale Branch last year -- following his wife's dream of moving to the coast -- and coached the Warriors' first-year program.

Massey takes over a Hilton Head High team that won three Lower State championships in Newton's six-year tenure, which also included six individual state champions and a 5-1 record against rival Bluffton High School.

"Obviously, the goal will be a state championship, both individuals and dual," Massey said. "You have to have a high goal, and you have to endlessly work toward it. I'm ready to work, myself."

The first step, Massey said, will be developing the Hilton Head Middle School program, as well as a program for younger kids interested in wrestling. The middle school has been without a coach of its own for the past two seasons, forcing Newton and his brother, Chris, to coach the high school and middle school teams.

Newton said both he and his brother will stay on as assistants for Massey, and each is open to a variety of assignments.

"Wherever Coach Massey wants me -- middle school, JV, scorekeeper -- I'll do whatever," Newton said. "Every hour I put into wrestling, I'm going to do it again. It will just be in a different capacity."