Catholic Central High School boys basketball coach Cody Sarensen has resigned to take a position with the Wittenberg University men’s basketball team.
Sarensen, a Lancaster native, went 60-18 in three seasons, winning back-to-back Ohio Heritage Conference South Division and Division IV district championships.
“With the support Central brings, it was absolutely a tough decision,” he said. “It was a tough one, but at the same time, we knew it would be a good stepping stone for my ambitions.”
Sarensen consulted several assistant coaches, family members and Central Athletic Director Jon Metzger before deciding to move on, he said.
Sarensen spoke with his players Monday afternoon before making the announcement on Twitter.
“You always hear people talk about how special Central is and it really is,” Sarensen said. “I wanted to sure they heard it first. It’s tough, but at the same time, it’s been a great experience for me and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
The search for a new basketball coach will begin immediately, Metzger said.
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Sarensen’s wife, Maggie, is a Catholic Central alum, meaning he knew all about the tradition at Catholic Central when he applied for the job. After being hired, he emphasized the school’s tradition, teaching his players about the past Irish squads as well as bringing in several alumni to speak during the season.
In 2017-2018, the Irish went 23-4, advancing to the regional semifinals where they lost to eventual state champion Marion Local.
The Irish went 22-4 this season, again falling in the regional semifinals, this time to another Midwest Athletic Conference team, St. Henry. The back-to-back district final appearances hadn’t happened at Central in 22 years.
“One of my goals was to build up the program and leave it better than what it was when I found it,” Sarensen said. “I think were able to some things the past few years to really promote the program and make it a place people want to be.”
Catholic Central will graduate seven seniors from this year’s team, but have a strong group of underclassmen returning, he said.
“They’ve got a young group coming in that will be very competitive,” Sarensen said. “We had a lot of hope and excitement for that group if we were returning. I know Jon and the committee will do what they need to to make sure they hire a great candidate.”
Sarensen is excited to join Wittenberg coach Matt Croci’s staff, he said. The Tigers, the winningest program in Division III NCAA history, have made back-to-back appearances in the national tournament.
“Obviously, they have a great program,” Sarensen said. “It’s traditionally very successful. I’m excited for the opportunity. … It’s going to be a great learning experience for me to see the other side of things, the world of college. I’m looking forward to it.”