ADRIAN — There is a missing link in Lismore these days.
It’s because of a sorrowful story connected to the Adrian wrestling program.
Last October, Bruce Loosbrock passed away suddenly at the age of 59. As the longtime owner of Loosbrock Digging Services, Bruce was well known throughout the area.
And as an assistant wrestling coach for the powerful Adrian Dragons, he was respected across the region by friends and foes alike.
“Everything he touched, he did to the max,” Lismore friend Deb Lutmer said.
Bruce was on the Lismore city council. He was active in his church.
“He was easy to get along with,” Deb said. “He spoke his mind, but yet he was fair. I’m sure he had people who didn’t agree with him.”
And they were his friends, too.
“He was just really a great guy,” Deb said.
Gregg Nelson has been the Adrian wrestling coach for 21 years. Randy Schettler and Bruce were his assistants for years.
“Bruce was an honest, good guy,” Gregg said. “He told it the way it was. He was a volunteer assistant who helped a lot behind the scenes. He really had a good head for wrestling.”
Bruce and his wife, Brenda, had seven children who went through the Adrian school system, including three sons who wrestled.
“It wasn’t just about his kids,” Gregg said. “He was there for all the kids.”
Bruce was a familiar figure to many throughout southwest Minnesota, both because of business and athletics.
“Everybody liked Bruce, you know?” Gregg said.
Certainly those in the Adrian and Lismore communities know only too well. And that’s why nearly six months after Bruce’s death, the pain remains.
Deb has been friends with the Loosbrock family for years. Like others, she shares in the heartache. And there is plenty of it. Several years ago, Brenda was badly hurt in a car accident that has left her partially paralyzed.
Bruce was there to help her. Then he was gone. And that hurts all who know the family.
“Yes, yes,” Deb said softly. “But they come through it.”
Brenda, she said, is very active in the community and maintains a positive outlook.
“She’s adjusted to her situation,” Deb said. “She has a very strong faith. Their whole family does.”
When he spoke, they listened
Gregg laughed softly when asked for a story or two about Bruce.
“He liked to have a cold beer and sit down and visit,” Gregg said. “He didn’t say a whole lot, but when he did people listened.”
Jim Carr was the head wrestling coach at Adrian some 45 years ago. He knew Bruce Loosbrock as both an athlete and a student.
“He was a very sharp kid who did very well in his studies,” Jim said. “As a wrestler it was difficult for him because of his size — he was about 170 pounds and that’s a tough weight class — but that didn’t bother him at all. He didn’t back down and he worked his (behind) off.”
Jim was a highly successful coach for the Dragons. He had many state champions. Bruce was not. But that didn’t make him any less memorable.
“I can still remember a match at the district tournament where he took third place,” Jim said with a slight chuckle. “He was pretty excited about that. He really loved wrestling. And he was so positive. He’d go out of his way to help people.”
Bruce had a highly successful excavation business. His winters, though, were devoted to Adrian wrestling.
“He was one of the main instigators when we got together here a few years ago and had a 50-year reunion of Adrian wrestling,” said Jim, who lives now in Yankton, S.D.
Though Bruce was never a superstar or state champion as were so many Dragons, he certainly deserves mention in any discussion of all-time Adrian greats.
“He can be mentioned as a wrestler, he can be mentioned as a coach, and he can be mentioned as a promoter,” Jim said. “He was quite a guy.”
The practice facility where so many great Adrian grapplers have worked is now called the Bruce Loosbrock Wrestling Room. In addition, there are plans to place a 15-foot banner over a trophy case where Dragon wrestlers are honored. It will say “Bruce Loosbrock Hall of Champions.”
Bruce was instrumental in honoring the Adrian wrestlers, both with plaques, photos and trophies. It’s an impressive tribute.
As many Minnesota prep sports fans realize, Adrian’s wrestling is an impressive program. Bruce was an important part of it.
“One thing people should know,” said Gregg. “Bruce wasn’t just about wrestling. He didn’t only donate and give his time to wrestling — which he did. But he also gave to everybody, to the basketball programs, the concession stands, the shop area. ... He just tried to help all the kids.”
Gregg told a story.
“This was before we were paired with Ellsworth for basketball,” he said. “When those boys started their run of (state) titles about 10 years ago, Bruce wanted to do something for Ellsworth kids. He was going to buy them a charter bus so they could ride in comfort, but they didn’t want that. So he bought the Ellsworth boys basketball team a meal before every state basketball tournament. And we weren’t paired with them at the time. He just did it because a neighboring community was successful.
“So every year Jim bought them breakfast, lunch or dinner. Just because.”
Cody Schilling won championships and set scoring records both at Ellsworth and Augustana (S.D.). Schilling and his brothers were among many fine players who helped Ellsworth dominate Class A basketball several years ago.
They all knew Bruce.
“Bruce was a great guy,” said Cody, who now lives in Waco, Texas, where his wife, Erica, is an associate athletic director at Baylor University. “He was always friendly and seemed like a guy who would help in any way and give you the shirt off his back. We were fortunate to cross paths with Bruce in 2006-08. The world needs more (people like) Bruce.”