Taking Flight: Bellbrook grads feed off past success, help Eagles return to state’s elite

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Bellbrook HS graduates and coaches Jason Tincher (girls basketball) and Bob Kosins (wrestling)

Friday night was a big night for Bellbrook High School. Who cares? I do.
I’m an alum and a proud one right now. Bellbrook’s athletic tradition
is solid but Friday the school accomplished a couple things it hasn’t
done in quite a while. To be frank, it was a night the district hasn’t
seen for some time.


Friday night was a big night for Bellbrook High School. Who cares? I do. I’m an alum and a proud one right now. Bellbrook’s athletic tradition is solid but Friday the school accomplished a couple things it hasn’t done in quite a while. To be frank, it was a night the district hasn’t seen for some time.

Bellbrook’s schools, student body and residential sprawl has all increased immensely since I graduated high school in 1994. It’s trophy case hasn’t followed suit.

Bigger numbers haven’t necessarily parlayed into better athletic results and it’s a fate shared by districts across the state. Growth across the board isn’t a given.

Don’t get me wrong. Bellbrook has standout athletic programs and dominates its league. Actually owns it.

The Eagles have won 17 Southwestern Buckeye League all-sports championships, including 13 in a row. The boys soccer team, in particular, has won 20 straight league titles and 23 of the last 25. Several other sports (boys basketball, volleyball and softball) have had solid runs for decades as well.

At the state level – regional and up – Bellbrook’s wave hasn’t been as overwhelming.

Thanks to increased enrollment, Bellbrook now plays in Divisions (I in some sports, II in others) and teams in a variety of sports that 15 years ago would have seemed absurd. When I was a senior our non-league basketball schedule consisted of Bethel, Cedarville, Greeneview, Yellow Springs and Clinton-Massie. Now it includes Beavercreek, Fairborn, Miamisburg, Xenia and West Carrollton.

Things have changed quickly.

In the latest OHSAA enrollment numbers used to distinguish athletic class, Bellbrook had 670 students in grades 9-11. In 1994 that number would have been around 390.

Since 1994, the Sugarcreek-Bellbrook Schools has gone through a name change (formerly Sugarcreek Local School District), built a new high school, built a new middle school and renovated its athletic complex, which includes a synthetic field surface, a new pressbox and increased seating. Bellbrook now houses district and regional soccer games and just hosted its first sectional boys basketball tournament.

The building that I graduated from is the current intermediate school (grades 3-5).

In addition to facilities and faces, Bellbrook has also grown academically over the last decade-plus and has blossomed into one of Ohio’s and the country’s top schools. In this case bigger has meant better.

Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Schools has earned Ohio’s top academic rating (Excellent) seven years straight and has been named to Newsweek’s prestigious “America’s Best High Schools” list the last four years. The district has also earned U.S. News and World Report’s “America’s Best High Schools” designation three of the last five years.

The Eagles athletic accomplishments, however, haven’t grown as fast as their academic ones.

Since the 1990s, a decade that produced double-digit district titles in a variety of sports, Bellbrook’s roll has slowed. In 2007 the BHS volleyball team won a D-II district title and advanced to the regional final. In 2010 the Bellbrook baseball team won a D-II district title and made the regional tournament. Last spring a BHS doubles team finished fourth at the D-II boys tennis tournament. This past fall the Bellbrook girls cross country team finished third at the D-II regionals and qualified for the state meet. The girls soccer team fell in a D-II district final.

There have been steps forward.

Friday was a leap.

Why? Because Bellbrook scored big wins on two of Ohio’s bigger stages: wrestling and girls basketball.

Other than Football, one could argue that wrestling and girls basketball are Ohio’s most “popular” pursuits. This state excels in boys basketball too, but Ohio’s product in wrestling and girls basketball rank it among the nation’s best states in those sports. Now Bellbrook is back among Ohio’s best in both.

At the 75th annual state wrestling meet at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus on Friday, Bellbrook freshman Cameron Kelly became the first Bellbrook wrestler to advance to a state final since 1993 with an 8-4 win over Graham’s Eli Stickley in the D-II 106 final. Today he’ll try to become Bellbrook’s first wrestling state champion.

Eighty-four miles southwest of Columbus in Mason, the Bellbrook girls basketball team made history too. The Eagles, on the heels of a 48-27 win over Kettering Alter in the sectional final, won the program’s first district title since 1997 with a 62-53 overtime victory over Kenton Ridge in a D-II final. Bellbrook plays in the regional semifinals against Chaminade Julienne on Tuesday at Springfield.

Both these victories are notable for several reasons, but the most glaring one for me is the fact that the coaches of both programs are Bellbrook grads – and notable in their own right.

One thing that draws me to high school sports is that it provides a platform for kids to write their own stories – to pen their own local legend. It also gives former greats the opportunity to write a couple more chapters by returning home and coaching after graduation.

Bob Kosins and Jason Tincher are pretty good authors.

It’s taken 19 years, but Kosins suddenly finds himself back in a state wrestling final.

The wait for Tincher’s return to a regional semifinal has been even longer (22 years).

But they are there and so are their teams.

Kosins graduated from Bellbrook in 1993 and since his runner-up finish at 103 that year no Bellbrook wrestler had made it back to the finals.

That streak ended with Kelly’s win. And it’s fitting Kosins – in his first year as coach – will be in his corner today. Kosins last name is synonymous with BHS wrestling success.

Bob’s twin brother Mike is one of three four-time state qualifiers in Bellbrook history and won 113 matches in his career. He finished fourth at the state meet at 112 in 1991.

Bob won 100 high school matches and in addition to finishing second at state in 1993, was third in 1992.

Big brother Bill Kosins got the whole thing started with a fifth place finish at 125 in 1990.

The Kosins – and several other Bellbrook wrestlers – honed their skills for years in a small barn turned wrestling room at the family’s home.

That sweat is still paying off.

Speaking of sweat, Tincher laid some down during his run at BHS too. One of the school’s most versatile athletes ever, Tincher earned first team All-SWBL honors in football, basketball and baseball his senior year. Nowadays kids don’t even play two sports let alone earn all-league honors in three.

After high school Tincher starred at Wilmington College where he set several school records and earned All-American honors as a standout wide receiver.

As a senior at BHS, Tincher helped Bellbrook win its first district title in boys basketball in 1990. Now as coach of the girls program he’s led the Eagles to their third district title ever and has the program among Ohio’s D-II elite. Next year Bellbrook will compete in the famed Classic in the Country. That’s respect.

There are still steps to take, however.

Bellbrook’s last District title in boys basketball came in 1994. Bellbrook’s never won a regional title in football but twice has advanced to regional finals (1991 and 2001). In boys soccer, despite its SWBL dominance, the program’s last district title came in 1999.

Goals remain. But regardless…Friday was big. Real big.

For Bellbrook.

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