RANDY KIMMEL WILL ALWAYS BE THE FIRST
Covington has a rich tradition of sending wrestlers to the state tournament, but only one can make the claim of being the first. Actually, this wrestler can also make the claim of being the first Covington wrestler to go to state in two straight years.
That wrestler is Randy Kimmel.
Randy started wrestling in the ninth grade thanks to some influential support of his uncle, Tom Kimmel. What transpired was one of the most successful careers a Covington wrestler has ever had.
“Uncle Tom pretty much started the wrestling program,” described Randy. “Between Uncle Tom and Jack Schwamberger, they started the whole program and followed it through. He’s the one who got me and my older brother Rusty involved in the sport. Uncle Tom was very influential in our lives.”
Although the wrestling program was just starting, Randy was able to make a name for himself in a short period of time. Despite practicing in a small elementary school gymnasium where the daily routine was rolling the mats out onto the floor and then rolling them back up after practice, he qualified for state his junior year and was within one controversial call from placing at state as a senior.
In a match that would determine who would qualify for at least a fourth place finish, Randy was disqualified. Legend has it, the move he used was a legal move, but circumstances left the decision up to the interpretation of the three referees.
“I remember winning my first match and then wrestling a guy for at least a fourth place finish,” said Randy. “I was controlling the match and pinned the kid on a judo-flip-roll. There were three referees who were suppose to watch each match at state. One referee determined that I pinned the guy, the second referee disqualified me for unnecessary roughness for throwing the guy too hard, and the third referee evidently didn’t see it. The three referees got into a huddle and while they were discussing it, the other guy’s coach came over and told the kid to lay there…that way he would be guaranteed fourth instead of losing by a pin. The referees then disqualified me which gave the other guy fourth place. They hauled him out on a stretcher and about three hours later, he walked up to receive fourth place.”
Although falling short of placing at state, Randy still had a dominating year by finishing 24-2, a record that was only second to his older brother at the time. Rusty finished 21-1 in the 1975-76 season that still remains as the highest single season winning percentage in school history.
Randy’s success on the mat provided him many options once his high school career was over. He was offered scholarships from the University of Kentucky and West Virginia. Both schools found him through the connections of his uncle, Tom Kimmel.
“Uncle Tom took me to a camp my junior year which taught me a lot about wrestling,” continued Randy. “I went back my senior year and got to wrestle some of the college boys that were there. I beat the guys in my weight class and held my own against a wrestler who was qualifying for the olympics. That was a pretty neat experience. The college coaches must have noticed something because they sent me some letters.”
Two letters for wrestling scholarships can be pretty tempting for a kid in high school, but Randy chose to stick close to his roots and his older brother. It was a decision which has paid dividends because of the success they have had as partners with RK Hydrovac over the past 20 years.
Their business today strives because of the tight bond between Rusty and Randy growing up. Their competitive edge can be traced back to the wrestling matches between the two on the family farm.
“Rusty and I wrestled a good bit growing up,” chuckled Randy. “I tell ya, mom never had new furniture. It was nothing to have the living room furniture get flipped upside down. That was normal growing up. We wrestled outside and also worked on some judo. Rusty was fourth in the nation in judo which helped me because at that time I was his punching bag. We had an old 90 pound goat we flipped around as well.”
From punching bag to goat flipper to the first Covington state wrestler to successful business man. Not bad for a farm boy who was pointed in the right direction by his Uncle Tom.
Five brothers established a family tradition…
Rusty, Randy, Ryan, Rodney and Ray Kimmel all were standout wrestlers for the Covington Buccaneers. Rusty wrestled his way to a school record 21-1 season in ’75-’76. Randy became the first Covington wrestler to wrestle at state in 1978 and 1979. Ryan won a sectional championship in 1982. Rodney wrestled at the state meet in 1985 and Ray wrestled for the Buccs from 1984-88.