Bobby Shriner, the fifth winningest wrestling coach in state history, is retiring.
Shriner made the announcement to his team at Orange on Wednesday. He said the time had come for him to step away from coaching and teaching so he could pursue other interests, including more time with his family and with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
“I’m stepping down from Orange coaching and teaching,” Shriner said. “The last couple of years I’ve been thinking about working more with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and I’d like to do that. Hopefully, it works out.”
Shriner won more than 600 matches, almost all at Orange High. He led the Panthers to 10 state championships – five dual-team, five tournament – including this year’s N.C. High School Athletic Association tournament title.
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Shriner, who wrestled at North Carolina, started coaching at Chapel Hill before moving to Orange 29 years ago. While at Grady Brown Elementary School, he became an assistant to Jim King for year before taking over the Panther program and leading Orange for the past 28 years.
“I’ve been at the school for 29 years and coach for 28 so it was a tough thing,” Shriner said. “I have to thank coach King for giving me the opportunity at Orange. There have been a bunch of great wrestlers, coaches and parents who have supported me over the years.”
Shriner continued to build upon the wrestling foundation King had established at Orange. His longevity allowed wrestlers he coached to go college and then return as assistants. There were even some second-generation wrestlers at Orange as sons followed in their fathers’ footsteps.
“It’s been a big family,” Shriner said. “That’s one of the rewards of coaching for such a long time. You make lifelong friends with the guys. The Lord has blessed me and blessed our program. ... It was tough to tell the team because we had worked together some three and four years. Some of them, I’d coached their dads or taught their moms. A couple of the guys had tears in their eyes. I had some tears in my eyes.”
He reached the 600-win mark earlier this season. He ends his career 610-89 overall, fifth in state history behind former coaches Walt Tolarchyk of Riverside (817), Bill Mayhew of South Iredell (669), Jerry Winterton of Cary (642) and Bobby House of Ledford (621).
Orange won dual-team titles in 2005, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012 and was runners-up in 1992, 1997, 2010 and 2017. It won tournament team championships in 2008, 2009, 2012, 2013 and 2017.
Shriner coached 24 individual state champions, was named N.C. Mat News Coach of the Year six times and is in the North Carolina Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
“It’s been wonderful,” Shriner said. “You’re not promised anything. These guys did a great job. Every year we tried to do our very best. Some years you’re fortunate. Some years you’re not. Every team is special and so is every kid. I’ve just done my part to lead these young men in the right direction.”