By David Fong
Regional Sports Content Manager
TROY — As former Troy Christian wrestling coach Steve Goudy was leading his team to three Division III state wrestling championships, some of the fiercest battles he saw his wrestlers compete in did not come at the sectional, district or even state level.
Some of the best matches he saw take place didn’t leave the Troy Christian wrestling room.
Truth be told, some of the most competitive matches he saw take place didn’t even leave their respective families.
“We’ve had a lot of successful brother combinations come through the program,” said Goudy, who would lead the Eagles to three state titles before turning the program over to current coach Ty Morgan, who would add another team title in 2013. Goudy currently serves as the program’s director of operations. “I think it really was a brother thing. The older brothers were always real motivated to beat their younger brothers and, more times than not, the younger brothers were usually the meaner ones, which is I guess how it should be. Growing up, the younger brothers always had to fight for what they got.”
In the history of sports in Troy, Troy High School has churned out many successful football families, while Troy Christian — in its brief history — has become known both locally and across the state for producing dominant family wrestling champions.
Consider what Troy Christian’s brothers-in-arms have done at the state level:
• The Toal brothers: Older brother Zach placed third at state as a freshman, then won three state championships as a sophomore, junior and senior. He went on to wrestle at the University of Missouri, where he was a four-time NCAA qualifier. Younger brother B.J. was a two-time state champion and a state runner-up. He recently completed his freshman season at the University of Missouri.
• The Sergent brothers: Older brother Ben was a two-time state champion, a state runner-up and placed fourth as a freshman. At the University of Findlay, he was a four-time Academic All-American, a two-time All-American, placed fourth as a sophomore and, most recently, captured a a Division II national championship. His younger brother Michael recently capped off his freshman season at Troy Christian by placing fourth at state.
• The Thome brothers: Older brother Casey was a two-time state champion, a state runner-up and a third-place finisher. Younger brother Jordan was a four-time state qualifier, placing fifth, fourth and second at state. Both brothers would go on to wrestle at the United States Military Academy. Both qualified for the NCAA Tournament while wrestling for Army.
• The Hancock brothers: Oldest brother Jordan was a two-time state placer and currently is a senior at Miami University. He’s also a wrestling coach at Middletown High School. Zac was a two-time state champion, a state runner-up, a four-time state placer and wrestled at Bucknell University. He currently is an assistant wrestling coach at Troy Christian. Youngest brother Garrett is a junior at Troy Christian who recently captured his second state championship and will go after his third state title next year. He’s a three-time state placer.
• The Burns brothers: Chris was a state champion and a three-time state placer. Brother Kyle was a state champion and a two-time state placer.
• The Campbell brothers: Older brother Robel was a state runner-up and a two-time state placer, while younger brother Pawlos was a three-time state placer.
Needless to say, wrestling at Troy Christian has been a family affair the past decade.
“Absolutely, it helps having so many brothers come through the program,” Goudy said. “A lot of times, we’ve had brothers in the room together and they always get after one another. We were fortunate that a lot of them were close enough in weight classes that they could wrestle one another in the room.
“And a lot of times, it helps having the older brother because the younger brother may have heard about what goes on and what the expectations are. They know what to expect when they are coming in. Plus, it helps having the parents there to encourage them as well.”
For Garrett Hancock, having two older brothers go through the program before him has turned out to be an invaluable resource on his way to back-to-back state titles.
“My brothers helped push me and make me better,” he said. “They set the standard very high for me. All I want is to reach the goals. I watched everything they went thru and I can see the path they have laid for me to achieve success. The competition level was always high with all the brothers wrestling each other. I think at one point we had 11 pairs of brothers wrestling in Troy Christian at some level. You look at the walls and you know we are all brothers. The families spend a lot of time together. Praying for and encouraging all of us.”
Ben Sergent said having so many brothers come through the same program has turned the entire wrestling team into one family — siblings and non-siblings alike.
“The whole team is like a big family,” he said. “It helps having all those brothers around.”
For Zach Toal, that family tradition carried on to the collegiate level, as he was able to compete with his brother not only in high school, but at the University of Missouri as well.
“I love having him around,” he said. “He always wants to lift weights and work out — a lot of times, he’s the one dragging me into the weight room. It’s been great having him around.”
Contact David Fong at (937) 440-5228 or firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong