Josh Koderhandt Wins State for Boys Wrestling


Josh Koderhandt takes down his opponent (courtesy of Belleville News Democrat)

Jed Coats, Sports Editor

Belleville West has a new state champion.  After a long, successful season going 43-0 in all of his matches, junior Josh Koderhandt has gathered quite a reputation for being one of the best wrestlers in the area, and made that obvious two weeks ago when he came in first place at the IHSA State Wrestling Championship nearly three hours away in Champaign. This was by no means his first rodeo.  Koderhandt has been in the postseason several times before, being a three-time sectional finalist and two-time champion, a three-time state qualifier, two time state finalist and now a one-time state champion. 

“My toughest match was my state finals match.  I had only given up two take downs all year and I gave up two in that match alone; it was also my only overtime match of the year,” Koderhandt said.

 The season itself requires a lot of preparation.  The physical training for wrestling requires intense dieting so he can stay at his competing weight — 120 pounds — and so that he can stay at his very best throughout the season.

“The season was pretty easy for matches. But outside of matches it was pretty tough.  I had to diet hard all year to keep my weight under control and I worked out pretty much every night after practice; but that’s just what you have to do to be good,” Koderhandt said. 

Dieting and exercise are not the only variables that made Koderhandt the wrestler he is.  With Coach Haywood being new to the wrestling coaching staff this year, it was the first time he was able to work with Koderhandt.  

“[Haywood] would come in three to four times a week and practice with me and we went hard every time.  It was good to finally get someone who can beat me in practice. Sharing that and a state title with him brought us close together and he’ll be one of my best friends for life,” Koderhandt said.  

Coach Haywood was able to help Koderhandt tremendously throughout the season, and also helped himself by competing with him at practices.

“It was great. Not only do I know he got better but wrestling with him also helped me improve my wrestling, as well as bring back the love for the sport,” Haywood said.

Teammates are also an important part of any athlete’s journey to becoming better.  Having someone who is willing to work just as hard and to compete against can be a big advantage.

“Wrestling [Koderhandt] every day is better than wrestling someone who isn’t good.  We worked on cardio a lot but not really anything specific,” junior Will Dahm said.

Having someone to go hard against has benefits for both athletes.  Even though one may be better than the other, it allows them to push one another to be the best they can be.

“[Dahm] came to practice everyday to get beat up by me basically.  He’s super tough and I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be a state champion without him,” Koderhandt said.