No one is ever going to outwork Bobbe Lowe, the new wrestling coach at Blue Springs High School.
You might work as hard, but outwork the man who is synonymous with Oak Grove High School wrestling?
“You’re definition of hard work might be different than mine,” Lowe told a group of Wildcat wrestlers after being named the replacement for legendary Blue Springs coach Mike Hagerty. “If you embrace a hard work ethic, you’re going to have a lot of success in this program. And we are going to have a lot of success.”
So Wildcats, read between the lines – you’re going to be the hardest working program in the state.
“I hope so,” Lowe said after meeting officials at the high school, “because there is no reason we can’t compete with the Staleys and the Park Hills. We enjoyed a lot of success at Oak Grove and there is no reason we can’t have the same type of success here at Blue Springs.”
Lowe was a three-time state champion as a wrestler at Oak Grove. He went on to become a two-time All-American wrestler at the University of Minnesota and then came back to his alma mater, where 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.
It would have been easy to stay at Oak Grove and grind out championships for the remainder of his career as a coach, but Lowe was looking for a new challenge.
“This is going to be a big challenge,” said Lowe, who wrestled for Hall of Fame coach Bob Glasgow at Oak Grove and later replaced him as coach after her retired with 12 state titles in 25 years. “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 here. If anyone believes we can’t enjoy the type of success at Blue Springs we enjoyed for all those years at Oak Grove, they better get out of our way.”
He is taking over for another Hall of Famer in Hagerty, who retired from the position three weeks ago after guiding the Blue Springs program for 24 years. Hagerty will remain at Blue Springs as a teacher and a sounding board for Lowe.
Lowe led the Panthers to their record-breaking 17th state title in 2017 and he coached Missouri’s latest four-time state champion in Connor Brown.
“I’m not going to lie, it was tough saying goodbye to the kids at Oak Grove,” Lowe said softly. “They gave me their all and I like to think I gave them everything I had. But I’ve been thinking about Blue Springs for a while now. I live in Stone Canyon, just a few houses away from Kelly Donohoe, and we’ve hit the golf course a few times and talked about this.”
Donohoe, a coaching legend in his own right who owns four state football titles and two runner-up appearances at state, said Lowe was the only man for the job.
“You replace a legend like Hag with a young, legendary coach like Bobbe Lowe – that’s a win/win,” said Donohoe, who will also take over as activities director for the retiring Frank Wheeler after this school year. “I can’t wait to see what he does with our wrestling program. He got me all fired up today when he was talking to the kids.”
Lowe said he is going to do his best to bring all the best aspects of coaching in a tight-knit community like Oak Grove to a larger, metropolitan community like Blue Springs.
“Oak Grove was a well-oiled machine, and Blue Springs can be a well-oiled machine, too,” said Lowe, who has spent most of his years in Oak Grove. “Now, I live in Blue Springs, my kids are going to go to school in Blue Springs – this is where I need to be. We’re going to continue on with the success Coach Hagerty brought to this program and we’re going to compete with the best schools in the state.”
Staley – coached by Hagerty’s longtime friend and rival Gary Mayabb – won state last year, and Park Hill won it the previous four years. Blue Springs last won state in 2012.
“In Blue Springs, it’s hard to get from bottom to top because you’re talking about so many people,” Lowe explained. “With the way sports have changed, you just have to adapt. I don’t know why we couldn’t compete with those guys right away. 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.”
It sounds to me like the work has already begun.
Bill Althaus is a sports writer and columnist for The Examiner. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 816-350-6333. Follow him on Twitter: @AlthausEJC