Glenbard North wrestling on verge of a major milestone

  • Current Glenbard North wrestling coach Mark Hahn (left) and retired Panthers coach Bob Fulk connect at the inaugural Glenbard North Wrestling Hall of Fame induction in 2010 at the Hilton Garden Inn St. Charles. Hahn and Fulk have been the Panthers' only head coaches since the program started in 1968.

    Current Glenbard North wrestling coach Mark Hahn (left) and retired Panthers coach Bob Fulk connect at the inaugural Glenbard North Wrestling Hall of Fame induction in 2010 at the Hilton Garden Inn St. Charles. Hahn and Fulk have been the Panthers' only head coaches since the program started in 1968. Photo courtesy of Jeff Eldridge

 
 
Updated 1/17/2020 8:36 AM

Glenbard North wrestling attracts a certain type.

"Blue-collar, middle-class people. Hardworking, trying to make a living," said Panthers coach Mark Hahn. "I think that's pretty much what wrestling is all about. It's about hardworking guys grinding out wins."

 

Boy, have they done the job.

Glenbard North is on the brink of a huge landmark entering Friday's DuKane Conference match against Wheaton Warrenville South in Carol Stream. The Panthers have won 999 dual meets since the program started in 1968.

Illinois High School Association records are incomplete, but it appears only Granite City and Harvard have topped that number.

"I always tell our kids you're not just wrestling for yourselves, you're wrestling for the whole history of Glenbard North," Hahn said.

Two head coaches have led the program in 52 years -- Hahn, the IHSA leader with 711 dual-meet victories; and 1994 IHSA Grand Marshal Bob Fulk, a 2010 inductee into the Illinois Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. Retired and living in Georgia, Fulk won 288 matches from 1968-87.

"When I took over Bob had done such a great job and a couple guys in the program were at such a high level that I just didn't want to screw it up," said Hahn, a 1977 Glenbard North graduate who joins his former coach in the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association Hall of Fame.

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Instead, "Gold Dot Nation" has earned 15 state trophies, 33 conference championships and a conference dual-meet record of 290-23-4. It has advanced 193 individual state qualifiers with 25 state champions.

Tradition and consistency are key, including "dedicated, loyal assistants that believe in the same thing," said Hahn, who retired as a physical education teacher in 2017.

Decades-long mainstays Kent Garrett, Jeff Cherry and Jim Considine all remain involved with assistants Tony LiFonti and Chris Edwards active nearly as long. The staff also includes Tony Savegnago, Tom Gudella, Geno Capezio and two-time individual champ Joey Gosinski. It got stronger this season by adding former Wheaton North coach Travis Cherry, Jeff's son and a 2003 Panthers graduate.

The annual goal is a state title. Rarely is it out of reach.

"The best part about it," Hahn said, "is Glenbard North has been part of the conversation for five decades. That's the cool thing about it."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Sweet Georgia Brown

The Rich Bodee we remember was a sweet-shooting Montini forward who made 31 3-pointers his senior basketball season in 2011-12. He averaged 16 points, making 86 percent of his free throws and 62 percent of his 2-point attempts.

We don't recall him doing any dancing.

Montini graduate Rich Bodee played one night with the Harlem Globetrotters.
Montini graduate Rich Bodee played one night with the Harlem Globetrotters. - Photo courtesy of the Bodee family

Bodee himself didn't believe he had that in him. Then, incredibly, he took the court with the Harlem Globetrotters.

"This kind of just happened out of nowhere," he said.

He's an evening reporter and multimedia journalist at WREX, an NBC affiliate in Rockford. Prior to their Dec. 29 game at the BMO Harris Bank Center in Rockford, the Globetrotters sent an email to the television station seeking a staff participant.

Bodee took the offer. With former Montini teammate Logan Goss and Bodee's parents, Rick and Sheila, watching from the stands, he joined the Globetrotters on the court for the national anthem. He entered the game in the second quarter.

Immediately he was told to bring the ball up court. Just as quickly the players stopped him. They told him to dance as he dribbled.

"Are you kidding me?" he wondered.

Nope.

The Globies worked him into their famous five-man weave, capped by Bodee putting the ball through the net.

"It just ended up in my hands like a foot from the basket," Bodee said. "I was like, heck with it, I'll just score."

He hadn't seen the Globetrotters since he went to a game with his father as a kid. Now, his framed Dominican University basketball jersey hangs next to the red, white and blue jersey of one of the world's most well-known teams.

"Never in a million years I would have thought I would be wearing the Harlem Globetrotters jersey," Bodee said. "I don't have a Montini jersey but I've got a Harlem Globetrotters jersey on the wall. Go figure."

doberhelman@dailyherald.com

Twitter: @doberhelman1

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