Behind coaching base, Comets gearing up for future

J. Patrick Eaken

In 2018 and 2019, Genoa won four state wrestling team championships.

The Comets took the Division III State Dual Team Tournament and the D-III individual tournament championship both seasons, setting scoring records in the process.

Last year, the Comets finished seventh in the Northern Buckeye Conference, finishing ahead of Fostoria. 

No worries, says coach Bob Bergman, because of the talent in young wrestlers coming through his program and a quality coaching staff.

“We are certainly blessed. The caliber of help we have is second to none and I know we will be back sooner than later because the level of sacrifice through our staff and our kids,” Bergman said. “We will be back. I’m thankful for the effort all of our coaches put in. They deserve a lot of credit. They do a lot of stuff behind the scenes.”

Bergman has taken a page out of Clay coach Ralph Cubberly and his uncle, Oak Harbor coach George Bergman’s book — seeing his former wrestlers return to join his staff, and adding a strong mix of coaches with plenty of pedigree.

“George and Ralph — those guys deserve the credit. They are the benchmark. I just hope to do what they are doing,” Bergman said.

Genoa has a summer wrestling camp “Competitors Edge” where they typically bring in 70-80 kids from grade school through high school. They also wrestled at Cedar Point a few weeks ago and just got back from an AAU tourney at Disney.

The hard work paid off when the Genoa Disney Dual Team competed at the AAU Scholastic Duals at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida on June 21-25. 

“Everyone had fun, learned, competed and improved. The competition on the national stage was fierce for our young team but our kids gained valuable experience,” Bergman said.

The Comets club team placed 14th (5-6) in the silver bracket in the developmental Division of 44 teams. Medaling for the Comets were Phoenix Contos (10-1, Silver), Spencer Franks (10-1, Silver), and Kevin Ludwig (6-2, Bronze). 


The ‘core group’

Bergman refers to assistant coaches Dominic D’Emilio, Damon D’Emilio, Kevin Contos Sr., Mike Widmer and Max Reeder as his “core group.” Dom D’Emilio is the club team’s president and the top assistant coach on the varsity staff.

“He brings a lot of organization and just technique from around the country, but also fundraising,” Bergman said. “This includes a lot of things to help us, even though his sons are all wrapped up and out of the sport (at Genoa), he is still distributing and endlessly thinks about wrestling. I’m very grateful for him and what he does. 

His son, Damion D’Emilio is newly hired as a Genoa teacher last year. He was a state runner-up, multiple-time league champ, and two-time state qualifier.

“He is a real shot in the arm for us. He is our middle school head coach but also every day after middle school practice is over he is with our high school guys at every Disney practice, at every morning (weight) lifting and he extends himself to high level kids and reaches down to our beginner kids,” Bergman said.

“He is dynamic. As a teacher in the middle school, I teach with him — I am seventh grade science and he’s seventh grade math and it is a fun day working with him, and we coach football and wrestling together, so it’s a great fall, summer, and spring. All year we don’t separate. I probably see him more than my wife, to be honest,” continued Bergman with a laugh.

Kevin Contos Sr. comes from a family who has spread their wrestling throughout the country. Their patriarch, the late Steve Contos, was a record-setting halfback wide receiver at the University of Michigan in 1945 and long time high school guidance counselor who once wrote an educational column for The Press. Steve’s son Mark and the grandchildren, including Kevin, are a chip off the old block.

“He is a human encyclopedia of wrestling. Kevin came to us a few years back,” Bergman said. “He has been a head coach at Start, at Maumee, at Southview, at Clay, and a couple other City schools and now my assistant. His dad (Mark) was a 30-year head coach in the Toledo City League. 

“He gave a lot of service, a lot of years. He is a Rolodex of techniques and it’s refreshing because he is such an ambassador of the sport. There are so many kids that he has relationships with through freestyle and Greco-Roman club wrestling, but also he truly gives our kids a passion for wrestling,” Bergman continued. 

“I think he likes teaching the life-lessons in wrestling — that is his big thing. I’m just grateful for him because every single day he is on the mat, whether it be August, June or May. It’s a nice outlet for our kids and for me as well. It’s a dream to have him on our staff.

“His brother (Shawn) is now a head coach at Iowa Wesleyan, but was an assistant at Penn State and he’s doing great things, too, so that is pretty cool.”

Now you start getting into that other category — former Genoa wrestlers who return. Bergman’s “core group” includes Mike Widmer and Max Reeder. Widmer is also a mixed martial arts coach at Karoshi Combat Sports (Levis Commons).

“Mike Widmer is a classmate of mine, and off the old tree — he was actually a year older than me but he was an SLL champ, all-state wrestler, played collegiate football at Urbana and was an AAU All-American (wrestler), and now he competes in mixed martial arts,” Bergman said. 

“He is a ‘crazy’ (passionate) dietician and has a lot of professional training experience. Right now he is still training, so he brings a level of intensity and hands-on with our kids. We really appreciate all that Mike does. He was a heavyweight but now he’s down to 180 pounds. When I was a teammate with him, he was at 285. He is a walking inspiration to me and all of our kids,” Bergman said.

“Max Reeder has been a catalyst for us. He was a two-time state qualifier, three-time NBC champ. He’s in the room and just graduated from the University of Toledo with an engineering degree and he is still helping out and rolling with our guys and helping every day.”























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