BELLBROOK — When visiting the Bellbrook high school wrestling website, the first thing you’ll notice is a graphic that says, “Building champions one weight class at a time.” Building is what third-year head coach Bobby Kosins has in mind for his program. And while he realizes that not everyone will become champions, he hopes that hard work and enthusiasm for the sport will help kids appreciate it.
The coaching staff at Bellbrook has a home-grown feel with Bellbrook graduates Kosins, Don Tharpe, Jason Cook. One of the wrestler’s fathers, Ron Wiederholt, didn’t graduate from Bellbrook, but Kosins refers to him as the wizard and says he is key in instructing the team. Together, they are trying to build up a program, starting with the Wee Eagles and moving through junior high school, that gets tough kids who are prepared to stick it out.
Kosins believes in a no-nonsense coaching style, and his practices are no joke. He says that he has lost at least six kids this year who couldn’t take the rigorous conditioning workouts, but says that it’s better for his program in the long run. It’s one of the main reasons he works so closely with the Wee Eagles, so that he knows kids won’t be afraid to enter the gym doors once they reach the high school.
“We’re smaller on numbers here, but man, a lot of the quality we have is pretty good. I got quite a few freshmen, but they’re tough. They’re kids, I’m thinking, that are going to be able to learn. They’re teachable,” he said. “If we can get that pipeline coming up, which is hugely important, we can get there.”
This approach to growing his program through the younger kids has obvious evidence in a group of wrestlers Kosins calls the Three Amigos. Juniors Camerion Kelly, Tyler Wiederholt and Ben Schram all came from the Wee Eagles, and all are standouts for the team.
Kelly was a state champion as a freshman, and a runner-up last year. His weight class this year at 126 is one of the most competitive in the division, with three state champions including Kelly. He suffered an elbow injury in a preseason event called the Super 32, but has recently been cleared to practice and will return Saturday at the Bellbrook Invitational.
Wiederholt was a state alternate last year and one of the team’s leaders. At the 145-pound weight class, Kosins said that he has really improved since last year, and his vocal leadership was visible during their practice as he was helping his teammates by pointing out mistakes they were making and giving suggestions on how to fix them.
Schram was an All-American his freshman year and third in the state at 152 last year, and has really benefited from offseason training. His coach describes him as “the real deal” and is happy that people are finally starting to take notice. He is nationally ranked after his performances at the Ironman tournament as well as Super 32, and JJHuddle.com recently ranked him third in the 160 weight division.
Schram talked about how his offseason preparation and participation in tournaments like the Ironman have made him a better individual wrestler, as well as a better leader for his team.
“They prepare me for big tournaments. I feel like when I do more of those, I’m not as nervous. Definitely better competition. At Super 32, the guy I lost to in the semis is number two in the nation. So that was sweet. Then I wrestled some other top kids in the nation and beat one or two of those guys. It’s good competition, definitely,” he said.
“I feel like we’re getting along pretty good. We got some kinks, but you get that everywhere. We’ll build up as the season progresses. I think we’ve already seen that. I think we’ve gotten better. As a captain, I just work hard. It shows that everyone needs to work hard. I know I might be one of the best in the room, but I still got to work hard.”
Kosins has worked hard to create that sense of camaraderie on his team. Everyone wears the same clothes at practice and is expected to put forth the same amount of effort. He wants a sense of pride in Bellbrook wrestling. He brought back dual meets with league foe Germantown Valley View where they fight over a trophy in a matchup deemed “The Brawl.” He said he hopes that his kids develop the same sense of drive.
“Nowadays, with SportsCenter, everything is a stat-driven world. Listen man, I just want wins. I’m a realistic guy. We don’t lie to kids around here. We’re pretty straight up which might work against us, but for someone to be a state qualifier by the time they’re a senior, that’s huge,” he said. “That’s what you look for here. Not how many state champions you put on the wall. That’s nice, but there’s a lot of this is life lessons, life goals for these kids.”“