CR Pfahler

Chestnut Ridge's Gary Pfahler hugs coach Jim Clark after Pfahler defeated Burrell's Jordan Shields to capture the 140-pound title at the Giant Center in Hershey in 2008.

Chestnut Ridge High School teacher and wrestling coach Jim Clark passed away at the age of 67 after a brief battle with cancer this weekend.

Clark helped elevate the Chestnut Ridge wrestling program into a District 5 power during his tenure.

“It was sad,” said Greg Lazor, who took over for Clark and led the Lions from 2008-19. “I heard about three weeks ago about the short diagnosis that he had. They found out he had leukemia in his bone marrow.

“He’s one of the toughest guys I’ve ever met, one of the hardest-working fellas. I would always put my money on him. If there was a way to beat it, he was going to beat it. I guess this was just too much."

Clark, a 1972 Bedford High School graduate who lettered in football and wrestling, was hired in 1977 as a teacher and wrestling coach at Chestnut Ridge, where he spent the next 31 years at the helm of the grappling program. He was an assistant coach at Everett in 1976-77.

Clark grew up in a wrestling family. His father, Ed, and four uncles wrestled at Bedford. Ed Clark coached at Bedford and his uncle Bob coached at Everett.

In 2008, Jim Clark was inducted into the Pennsylvania Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame and joined his father, who was introduced in 1983.

Clark, who wrestled at Penn State Altoona and Penn State, was inducted into the Bedford County Sports Hall of Fame in 2009.

Under Clark, the Lions amassed a record of 342-158-3.

“He really showed the kids there’s another level of hard work out there that most people don’t realize they can do,” Lazor said of what Clark instilled in his wrestlers.

“He wanted to build character amongst the boys. He pushed them to reach some of those limits. He held people accountable, wanted them to be great. In order to do so, they had to meet some high expectations.”

His 342 wins are a record for Bedford County and District 5 wrestling coaches.

Clark’s teams produced 25 winning seasons, including an undefeated regular season in 2005-06. Clark’s squads won 18 tournament championships, including the District 5 title in 1983 and six conference crowns.

“He brought strong leadership, he was the guy in charge,” Lazor said. “He did everything the right way. If things went well, he would give credit to others.

“If things go wrong, he took the blame and tried to fix it.”

During his tenure at Chestnut Ridge, Clark mentored 56 District 5 champions, 40 Southwest Regional place winners, six regional champions, 30 PIAA qualifiers and nine state medal winners, including the school’s first PIAA state champion, Gary Pfahler, in 2008. Pfahler was the county’s first state champion in 25 years.

Clark retired from coaching at the end of the 2007-08 season. Clark was a PIAA wrestling official and served on the Pennsylvania Wrestling Coaches Association Executive Committee for 24 years.

Ever since Clark took over, Chestnut Ridge’s program has ascended. The Lions have earned 10 straight District 5 team titles and brought home PIAA bronze on four occasions over the past five years.

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