Abell to step down as Broncs’ wrestling coach

Bill Abell, right, intently watches a varsity wrestling match during the 2020-21 campaign. He will step down after this season: his ninth as Belle Fourche head coach. Pioneer file photo

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BELLE FOURCHE — Bill Abell’s ninth season as head coach of the Belle Fourche Broncs’ varsity wrestling team will be his final one.

“I’ve had some medical stuff pop up that seems to be in front of my ability to be as good a coach as I can be,” Abell said.

He added he has always wanted to coach for as long as he was effective.

Abell said the athletes would ultimately suffer if he is not at 100%.

He added the COVID-19 pandemic did not really play into his decision at all.

Numbers, stability, and consistency are what Abell said he was able to bring to the program, more than anything.

The program’s high school numbers are now in the mid-20s, and Abell said early numbers were in the single digits.

Abell said he made the early retirement announcement in hopes of generating interest from a younger coach.

“Once you have your numbers established, it’s going to be a little bit easier for somebody that wants to take it to the next level,” he added.

Relationships stand out for Abell when he reflects on the past.

He also cited instances when an athlete made a correction of something on the mat.

One of the other memories for Abell centered on the instances when his teams squared off against one coached by his son Mike.

Bill coached in Newell before moving to Belle Fourche, with Mike in Spearfish, and now at Sturgis Brown.

The first such dual was between Newell and Sturgis Brown.

A newspaper story addressed this event, and Bill recalled many people misread the article.

“We’re dualing, and all these people were upset because they thought that Mike and I were going to wrestle each other afterwards,” Bill said with a laugh.

Those duals proved frustrating for Bill from a competition standpoint.  

“Whenever I come into town, he’s going to give me his A-plus game,” Bill said in describing Mike’s squads. “He doesn’t want to give you a thing.”

Bill said Mike has been the only coach whose squads shut his team out.

“He has made me step my game up,” Bill added.

As for the 2021-22 high school wrestling season, Abell said, “I just want to cherish every moment and do the best I can for these kids. Hopefully, we can finish on a strong note. I just want to walk away with no regrets.”

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