The wrestling community in central Pennsylvania is tight.

The heartbreak was abundant on Thursday when the news circulated of Trinity head coach Chris Bentley's death at work that morning.

Bentley, who coached the Shamrocks all seven years since the program's inception in 2010 and had run a youth wrestling club out of Shippensburg for nearly two decades, left a lasting mark on a large swath of the midstate wrestling community.

Bentley had a huge impact on not just wrestlers at Trinity, but wrestlers from all over. He cared for everyone he came in contact with and wanted the best from every person he worked with, said players and coaches who spoke to The Sentinel after his death.

Bentley was as unselfish as they come, and he won't soon be forgotten.

Several local wrestlers and coaches shared their thoughts on the longtime coach, who is survived by his wife, Lara, and sons, Devon and Caleb.

Cameron Tinner, 2017 Shippensburg grad and wrestler: "Coach was the perfect definition of who a coach should be — a guy willing to go out of his way to help anyone. It didn't have to be involved with the sport of wrestling. He was a second father to all of us at the club (Renegade Force in Shippensburg). He got me into wrestling when I was 7 years old and was by my side the whole way through high school. Helping me grow as a wrestler and become an even better young man. He pushed us to get better because that was the type of person he was. He wanted to help everyone.

"I am very honored to have known him. I'm glad I was able to have the chance to work with him. I know he will be there watching over us all. I'm praying for his family. I'm going to miss him."

Cole Forrester, Shippensburg rising senior and wrestler: "Coach Chris was much more than a wrestling coach. He was a mentor and hero to me and many other wrestlers who got to wrestle under him. For my freshman year at Trinity, he took me under his wing and treated me like a son. Coach was truly invested in all of his athletes and the sport. I can't thank him enough for all he has done for me and for help shaping me into the man I am today."

Joe Wilson, Carlisle wrestling coach: "It's probably been 15 years (since we've known each other). He had such a big impact on kids from all schools, and it didn't matter where you were from. He was helping Big Spring kids, Shippensburg kids, Chambersburg kids, Carlisle kids — it didn't matter. When you were in his room he treated everybody the same — he was hard-nosed, but he was fair. When he would see the kids outside of his wrestling room he would always go out of his way to talk to them. 

"It's tough. We have a real good relationship with their family. It's definitely a tough day for our family."

Donovon Ball, Cedar Cliff rising junior and wrestler: "I never wrestled for Coach Bentley before. But I have talked to him a few times at tournaments. He was definitely a great person and coach. Every wrestler or coach that I know always seemed to love to be around him."

Quentin Milliken, Cumberland Valley rising senior and wrestler: "He was a great man, the most selfless person you'd ever meet. Everything he did was for the people around him and giving back to the wrestling community and the people he loved. Personally, he was literally like a father figure in my life. I've spent countless hours with him and his family and many days and nights in his home, where I was always welcome with open arms. He treated me like a son, told me he loved me like a son and did the same things for me that he did for his sons.

"He was always there when I needed guidance or help — he always had the answers and always knew what to say. Everything he taught me was a lesson greater than wrestling. To him it didn't matter how good of a wrestler I was, it was about the life lessons, the type of student I was, the type of person I was and how I treated the people around me. He was a great man that had passion not only for wrestling, but everything he did in life. Great man, great coach and great mentor."

Dave Heckard, Cumberland Valley wrestling coach: "He was a great coach and I think that's how a lot of people will remember him, as a coach, but I think it's also equally important to remember that he was a father and a husband and I ultimately feel for those people that were left behind. I feel for us and the wrestling community, who are a close group and a tight knit bunch."

​Email Mallory at mmerda@cumberlink.com or follow her on Twitter @MalloryMerda

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Sports Reporter

Sports reporter at The Sentinel.

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