The Herald Bulletin

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Local Sports

June 15, 2013

Downing prepares for bittersweet return to PH

Former PH wrestling star will replace late assistant coach, friend

(Continued)

And Cloud knew he'd never find a more qualified candidate.

Among a litany of accomplishments, Downing won a national high school championship in 1998, a World Cup championship in 2001 and a United States championship in 2003. She won another national crown in 2004 but lost in a special wrestle-off for a spot on the 2004 Olympic team.

After falling short of her Olympic dream again in 2008, Downing accepted a position as a training partner and traveled to Beijing to support Team USA.

"She went and helped other girls achieve their Olympic dreams," Cloud said Saturday, still marveling at the self-sacrifice.

Downing also had a deeply personal connection with Kriebel. She gave her 2005 bronze medal to Kriebel, and it hangs on a wall in his home.

Adding Downing as Kriebel's replacement was no spur of the moment decision for Cloud. He's seen her work with youngsters during Arabian wrestling camps over the years, and she's lent a hand at the occasional varsity practice during her infrequent trips home from spots across the country.

In fact, not working in the Pendleton Heights wrestling room more often is one of Downing's few regrets concerning her years with Kriebel.

"I wish I would have got to coach with him a little bit more," she said.

Cloud said he could have interviewed 20 candidates and not found a resume more complete than Downing's. Her voice carries authority from her international experience to her tireless work as the only girl on the Pendleton Heights team.

"I've always said, if all the guys worked as hard as she did when she wrestled here," Cloud said, "we'd win every year."

Despite the fit and the storybook-quality surrounding the hire, there will be tough days ahead.

For the second time in three years, the Arabians will open the season mourning the loss of one of their own. Sophomore Zach Wise died prior to the start of the 2011 campaign, and Cloud is attempting to use the hard lessons of that experience in dealing with Kriebel's death.

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