Local Official Shares Love For Wrestling
Published: March 1st, 2024
By: Morgan Golliver

Local official shares love for wrestling Norwich’s Bob Hagenbuch was selected and officiated the 2024 NYSPHSAA Wrestling State Championships in Albany last weekend. (Submitted Photo)

NORWICH – Wrestling has always held a special place in Norwich’s Bob Hagenbuch’s heart.

A sport that to him is the “greatest in the world” and to many other athletes that Bob has coached or seen feel the same way.

Hagenbuch, who coached modified, junior-varsity, and varsity wrestling for Norwich, has also been a part of wrestling in another aspect with officiating. Hagenbuch, who entered his 28th year of officiating, joined the six Chenango County wrestlers at the NYSPHSAA Wrestling State Championships last weekend.

Hagenbuch went through a selection process, where he was first nominated by his peers from Section IV and then he had to get voted on again to get sent up to the State level. Hagenbuch said out of the 11 sections and private chapters, 32 officials get selected and three from this section were chosen. Hagenbuch was fortunate to be selected, which it was his third time being selected.

“It’s the greatest sport on the planet. It’s a sport that if you do it long enough, it becomes who you are,” Hagenbuch said of his passion for wrestling. “The life lessons you learn and absorb carry through with you into adult hood. It’s a one on one sport. When you walk to the center of the cylinder to wrestle your opponents, you know that it is just you. No help is coming.”

Hagenbuch said it’s the same feeling when it comes to officiating.

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“When you coach or officiate, you’re right in the middle of the entire sport. This sport of wrestling has given so much to me and I just want to give back to the sport,” he said.

Hagenbuch had a great experience officiating at the state level this year, where he got to see some of the best athletes compete.

“I had a lot of fun and you have the best seat in the house and they pay you for it,” he said. “When you have not done a lot of officiating for eight seasons and then go right into the state tournament, it makes you a little nervous, but I told myself ‘it’s just wrestling, call it like you always do.’ Everyone from the committee to fellow officials were really supportive and glad I was back on the dark side.”

While Hagenbuch admits he misses the competition and misses teaching kids the “greatest sport on the planet,” he is grateful to have the opportunity to officiate and continue being involved in a sport that means so much to him.