The name Bobbe Lowe is synonymous with Oak Grove wrestling.
Not only was he a three-time state champion as a wrestler with the Panthers, he led the program to five championships and three second-place finishes at the Missouri State High School Wrestling Championships in eight years as the head coach.
But all good things come to an end, and Lowe was ready for a new challenge. That’s why he decided to take his dream job at Blue Springs High School, which he will start next school year. His hiring was announced at the school Thursday.
“This is going to be a challenge,” said Lowe, a protege of legendary wrestling coach Bob Glasgow. “I am always up for a challenge. When someone says I can’t do something, I like to prove them wrong. I’ve done it my entire my life, and I plan on doing it again.
He is taking over for legendary head coach and National Wrestling Hall of Fame member Mike Hagerty, who retired from the position three weeks ago after guiding the Blue Springs program for 24 years.
This past season Lowe led the Panthers to their record-breaking 17th state title and he coached Missouri’s latest four-time state champion in Connor Brown.
Lowe said it was an emotional departure from Oak Grove as he said goodbye to the one place that he’s spent 35 years of his life.
“I’ve been there my whole life,” Lowe said. “Leaving was tough but being (at Blue Springs) was a goal of mine. Oak Grove will always have a big chunk of my heart. I won’t ever forget where I came from.”
But now he’s at Blue Springs. The place he wants to be, the place he lives in and the place his children will be going to school.
“What better program to go to? Close by,” Lowe asked. “Name one you’re going to go to. If I were going to run to another program, I could have went to Lee’s Summit West or could’ve went somewhere else. I felt like two or three years ago, I wanted to be there. This was something I wanted to reach out and go get.”
One of the first things he wants to bring to his new team is a small-town, tight-knit type atmosphere.
“Oak Grove is a well-oiled machine from bottom to top,” Lowe said. “Blue Springs it’s hard to get from bottom to top because you’re talking about so many people. With the way sports have changed, you just have to adapt.
“I am playing the outfield right now and I am not the pitcher. Once I get my hands wet and really get in there and really, really start to implement those values.”
Goal No. 2 for Lowe is to build the program up to Park Hill and Staley’s level. Those are the teams that have won the last five Class 4 state championships, after all. Before Staley this year and Park Hill the four years before that, Blue Springs won state in 2012.
“I don’t know why we couldn’t compete with those guys right away,” Lowe said of Staley and Park Hill. “It’s going to be tough, and it’s going to be a challenge. But I think if our guys embrace it and really look forward to it and work hard for it, I don’t see why we can’t challenge those guys as soon as possible.”
For the 2017-18 season, Lowe said he feels he has the personnel for his team to make some noise at state.
“They had eight state qualifiers last year,” Lowe said. “They definitely put a good group down there. There are 5-6 seniors in this lineup, and anytime you can have that many seniors, the expectations are high on their part and you have good leadership in the room.”
The administration at Blue Springs is confident Lowe will get the job done. If you ask assistant activities director Kelly Donohoe, the former Panther was a home run hire.
“You feel like we had the very best wrestling coach and he’s retired now,” Donohoe said of Hagerty. “Then you hire the person that you feel is the best up-and-coming wrestling coach, it’s great for us. We’re always looking for guys who will take good care of kids, and that’s what Bobbe Lowe will do. He will demand very high expectations of how they act in the classroom and how they are as wrestlers. He brings the whole package.
“This program has been established as one of the premier programs in Missouri. So Coach Hagerty wants this program to continue strong, and I know he’s excited for Coach Lowe to be here.”