When Bill Sutton decided to resign as wrestling coach at Chartiers-Houston High School this summer, it allowed for a successful succession process to continue.
The Bucs, who have a long and rich tradition in the sport, again reached into their pool of assistants to find Sutton’s replacement: Jeff Havelka.
The 26-year-old Havelka was hired at Monday night’s school board meeting to replace Sutton in the same way Sutton replaced Jim Vulcano, a process that stretches back more than two decades.
“That seems to be the case,” said Jeff Havelka. “Being here last year, I had the advantage of meeting the administration and teachers.”
Havelka’s father, Terry, is an icon at Burgettstown High School, thanks to his long tenure as wrestling coach, football coach and now athletic director. Jeff Havelka landed a job at Chartiers-Houston last season and began his coaching career.
“I had the advantage of them having an opening for physical education, which was my major in college,” said Havelka. “It was good for me to get that job.”
Havelka has a solid background, working as a graduate assistant for two years at Waynesburg College with head coach Ron Headlee and assistant John Yates. Havelka competed at the University of Findlay in Ohio for five seasons. He graduated from Burgettstown High School, where he wrestled for four years for his father.
“He’s been coaching at Burgettstown for forever,” Jeff Havelka said. “I always respected him. He was my biggest role model, and I learned a lot from him.”
Jeff Havelka said his dad has a gift for getting the most out of an athlete.
“He’s good at reading kids,” he said. “He knows who he needs to push harder, but he treats them all the same.”
Kurt Kesneck, athletic director at Chartiers-Houston, said Havelka was a good fit for the job.
“He’s a good young coach,” Kesneck said. “He worked with the kids last year, and the kids enjoyed him. He just seems right for the job.”
Kesneck believes Havelka can have a long and prosperous career at Chartiers-Houston.
“We wanted someone who was young and energetic,” said Kesneck. “We wanted someone who can give you the longevity that Coach Sutton gave us. Jeff has a passion for the sport, and I envision him doing good things with this program.”
Sutton resigned after a 10-year stay that produced 117 dual-meet victories, five state medalists, 15 state qualifiers, two regional champions and four runners-up.
His teams won three section titles, qualified eight times for the WPIAL Team Tournament and earned two berths in the PIAA Team Tournament. Six of his wrestlers won WPIAL individual titles, and five moved into the school’s all-time wins list. Garrett Vulcano, with 154, has the record, and Tanner Sutton is second with 142.
Now it’s Havelka’s turn, and he has a vision for the program.
“I want to build the numbers in the youth and junior high programs,” he said. “I want to help the kids reach their goal athletically and academically. The expectation at the school is to win. We have good senior leadership coming back, and I expect to do well this year.”