EATON — There are places in Preble County for youth to play baseball, softball, basketball, and soccer without having to leave the county to train and get proper instruction.
For Butch Hildebrand and Mark Adams, there was a sport that was missing and one they are both very passionate about — wrestling.
That changed earlier this year when the two opened Wruffhouse Wrestling on Industrial Drive in Eaton.
It’s not just Preble County athletes they are getting either.
In May, they had four-time state champion Jake Danishek from Dayton Christian in to train and help instruct along with Bellbrook’s Ben Schram and DC’s Michael May.
“There are kids in Preble County that need some direction and the second part is exposure to wrestling,” Hildebrand said. “Having these guys come over is awesome. To get them over here, in Preble County, it doesn’t happen, it’s never happened. There’s been 27 or 28 four-time state champions in Ohio and the only ones that have ever been to Preble County are the Jordans and they were campaigning or coaching. So to get Jacob over here, to come in, and have these kids see a four-time state champion, that’s somebody who did it.”
Hildebrand said exposure’s a key for county athletes in order to improve and compete for state titles.
“Growing up I won a state title, but I was never exposed to somebody who won like that. The kid (Danishek) lost five times in high school and they wrestle all over the country,” Hildebrand said. “To get somebody like that over here and they realize ‘hey, these are real guys’ doing the same things we’re doing, it helps open their eyes to the idea ‘we could do this’. The idea can’t be ‘we can’t be good in the county and we can’t be good in the SWBL’. Nobody cares. You could be the SWBL champ, but if you don’t get on the state podium nobody cares.”
Starting at an early age is key for success in high school.
“If we can get these kids in here and give them proper instruction when they’re five, by the time they’re 15 they’re going to have a pretty good grasp on what they’re doing and it’s going to make Eaton’s coaches’ job easier, Trail’s coaches’ job easier or whatever it is,” he said. “But the idea of taking corn-fed strong kids from Preble County and teaching them how to be a little bit better athlete, that was a no brainer. The potential for taking kids from here and exposing them to a bigger scene is limitless.”
Wrestling is a labor of love for Adams and Hildebrand.
“This isn’t our job. It’s more a passion,” Hildebrand said. “We’re excited.”
The county has produced its share of state placers, but its last state champion was in 2000 when Eaton’s Jacob Welch went undefeated and won the 285-pound title.
“Historically, we’ve had pretty decent success on the mat,” Hildebrand said.
Hildebrand sees this as training and competing not just in wrestling, but for other sports as well.
“I want them to come in here and learn how to compete and not just here, but football and baseball,” he said.