When Randy Bosnic last coached wrestling at Wheaton High School things were drastically different.
Bosnic coached Wheaton’s junior varsity wrestling team starting in the late 1980s until 1995 while Dave Moquin coached the varsity squad. Now, Bosnic is back with the Knights after 17 years and hopes to “bring the spirit back” to a program that once was one of the county’s stronger programs.
“Back in those days we were very competitive,” Bosnic said. “We had one of the best programs in the county and we had a Wheaton Boys Club. ... Ninety percent of the kids we had come out knew how to wrestle, so it was kind of easy to form a program. ... I have really good memories of the old days at Wheaton.”
But that boys club no longer exists and Wheaton’s wrestling team has struggled in recent memory — the Knights have struggled to fill their lineup and have not won a dual match in the last three years.
Bosnic is succeeding former Col. Zadok Magruder state champion Tony Howard, who now is an assistant at Winston Churchill, as Wheaton’s head coach. He will be the team’s fourth coach in as many years.
Bosnic is hoping to have more time than his predecessors to turn things around.
“If we’re going to change things, we need to do it in steps,” Bosnic said. “I’m cautiously optimistic.”
Knowing that he has his work cut out for him, Bosnic said it all starts with getting wrestlers to come out for the team.
“My goal this year is to build the program from the ground up starting from scratch,” Bosnic said. “I hope to get more kids out than last year for the team so we can fill a full lineup and then hopefully win a match.”
He already has had success towards reaching his goals by doubling last year’s total of nine wrestlers.
“Coach Howard was a good coach,” said Will Monteith, the Knights’ lone senior. “But coach Bosnic is getting more wrestlers out, so that could actually help us in the long run, having more freshman out there.”
Bosnic has been very diligent in finding athletes to fill his team.
“I went to lunch periods and knocked on doors, trying to find people who aren’t playing winter sports,” Bosnic said.
He also is Wheaton football team’s offensive line coach and he used that to his advantage when it came to recruiting wrestlers.
In fact, six of his wrestlers are offensive lineman.
“There are some wrestlers we have right now that wouldn’t have come out if asked once,” Monteith said. “But we have more wrestlers now because he just keeps asking people to come out for the team.”
Wheaton only has four wrestlers on the team who have wrestled before and everyone else is brand new to the sport.
“The main thing is since I have so many wrestlers with no experience is I have to get them into conditioning,” Bosnic said. “Because wrestling is a demanding sport and you need to be able to wrestle six minutes if need be.
“We’re doing more drilling, going over more of the basics that they need to compete. … I’m taking things realistically and slow. ... I don’t want to push the kids with no experience too fast and too far.”
Bosnic said that freshman Xavier Howard, known to his friends, family and teammates as “X,” is one of the program’s rising stars that will give spectators a glimpse into the future of Wheaton wrestling.
“Coach Bosnic has taught us to compete with heart and put all your heart into it when you go out and wrestle,” Howard said. “There have been more wrestlers that have come out and I see really good things if we keep getting numbers like this. I think we can bring some good things to Wheaton.”