Wrestlers tell different story of parent's confrontation with coach

Owen High wrestling coach Lucas Pokorny has been fired after a confrontation with a parent Wednesday. (Photo credit: Jackie Zale)

An Owen High wrestling coach has been fired after a confrontation with a parent Wednesday.

Buncombe County Schools officials said Lucas Pokorny has been "removed from his role as both teacher assistant (at Owen Middle) and coach (at Owen High)." Officials said the parent involved has been "banned from Owen High's campus until further notice."

According to students, a parent entered the gym during wrestling practice, a disagreement ensued and the coach pinned the man to the mat.

The parent had a different story.

"I heard the coach cussing my son," said the parent, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "He screamed at me and told me to get the **** out of his gym.”

The parent refused to leave.

“That’s when he struck me. He hit me in the eye, in the side of the neck, and I got him in a headlock and took him to the ground to protect myself," he said.

The parent said he used no profanity toward the coach.

But several wrestlers who were there disagree with the parent's story of what happened.

"Um, it’s all lies," Owen Vale said.

"It's not accurate," wrestling team captain Wesley Melton said.

The students said the parent walked in and started cussing the coach, who walked over to him and told him he needed to leave.

"Barged in, started using profanity," Everett Vale said of the parent.

"The father started pushing the coach," Melton said. "I saw him get right in coach's face," Noah Lehman said.

"He was cussing up a storm, pointing fingers," Owen Vale said. "Coach didn't punch him, he took him to the ground so he couldn't do anything else.

"We didn't know if he had a weapon or anything," Everett Vale said. "I saw the other guy push coach multiple times. I was right behind coach. I didn't see coach push him until coach took him down."

"I think he did what he needed to do. I think we felt threatened because you don't know what he could have had, a weapon or something," Melton said.

The players said they think Pokorny took appropriate action.

"I think he was just protecting his wrestlers. There were no other adults in the room. He could not have left because the man could have been potentially dangerous to his wrestlers. He got him on the ground, but he didn't do anything excessive," Lehman said.

The players said there’s a camera in the gym. News 13 has asked to see any video of the incident.

Parents would like to see the video, too, to see what happened between Pokorny and the parent.

The Buncombe County Sheriff's Office said no charges have been filed.

School officials are not releasing any details about the incident.

"We are not able to release specific details regarding personnel matters, but we can confirm that law enforcement investigated an incident that occurred at Owen High School on Wednesday. No charges are being filed," Buncombe County Schools director of communications Stacia Harris said. "The most important consideration in these situations is maintaining the safety and well-being of our students and keeping our campuses safe. We have an interim coach in place who will finish the season with the Owen High wrestling team."

She said Pokorny has 15 days to file an appeal and the board of education will decide whether to hear it.

But parents of the other wrestlers want Pokorny reinstated. They said they think the coach was protecting the wrestlers.

"What’s going to happen to the kids if he does not take care of the situation," parent Wendy Melton asked. Melton's son is team captain.

"What he has done is acting in the spirit of safety of kids," said parent Wally Vale, who's twin boys are on the team and were in the gym when the confrontation occurred. "We trust the school system with. I'm going to put it out there. If you have a deranged parent who's incredibly irate, who continues to cuss, point push, whatever the situation is, and you ask him to leave the gym four or five times and he does not leave, where is the safety in that? What are you supposed to do in that situation?"

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