Roger Branham's contributions to wrestling span six decades.

Roger Branham's contributions to wrestling span six decades.

As a competitor, he was a standout at Franklin Heights High School and Ohio State.

As a coach, he guided several programs, including Westland, a position from which he resigned May 4.

Branham, 60, said he plans on spending more time with his family, including his wife, Judy. He closed his career with a record of 170-58-1, coaching 47 state qualifiers, 16 state-placers and five state champions.

Westland athletics director Greg Burke, who hopes to name Branham's replacement later this summer, said it will be difficult to replace his friend.

"The main thing that he meant to this program was his dedication to detail," Burke said. "The detail involved with being a head coach, running a program and staying on top of every little thing that you have to do as a head coach. From a wrestling standpoint, his long career, to have wrestled at Ohio State and then coaching kids for years, the attention to detail with technique, doing it right, drilling and drilling was paramount to anything else."

Branham, who graduated from Franklin Heights in 1967 and Ohio State in 1975, helped form the West Jefferson program in 1974.

At West Jefferson, Branham guided his brother, Mike, to a Class AA state title at 119 pounds in 1985.

Mike Branham is now the head coach at West Jefferson.

Roger Branham took over the Westland program in 1994. He left after one season before returning in 1996, leading the Cougars to a district title in 1999 and OCC titles in 1998, 1999 and 2003.
Branham coached two Division I state champions at Westland, including his son, Andy, at 135 in 1999. The Cougars finished fourth in the state (53 points) behind champion Lakewood St. Edward (116.5).

Andy Branham was named the head coach at London in the spring.

"Obviously, when your kid wins a state title it's very special," Branham said. "I coached my brother to a state title at West Jeff and that was very special because I come from a family of five boys and all of us had tried to be state champs and he was the last one we had. He was the youngest one."

T.J. Enright was Branham's last state champion, winning the title at 130 in 2003.

Branham again left the program for one year following the 2002-03 season but returned for the 2004-05 campaign.

"After Enright won a state title I figured that was a good time to get out, but I was only out a year," Branham said. "I missed it. I was still working in the building as a counselor, so I decided to come back."

Branham retired as a guidance counselor at the school in 2005.

Among the wrestlers he coached in his final stint was Sean Clutter, who was 38-4 and a district qualifier as a senior this past season.

"Coach made a big difference in the wrestling room," said Clutter, who will compete at Heidelberg University in Tiffin. "He helped us a lot. He pushed me to where no other coach ever pushed me before, and it helped me achieve my record from last year. Without his help, I probably wouldn't have done as well as I did."

Branham was inducted into the OHSAA Coaches Hall of Fame in 2009.

"The main thing you remember are the state champions because that's the ultimate goal," he said. "I was fortunate enough to have five of them. To have a kid in the state championship match five times, that's very exciting."