Miles Van Hee has been a part of the Western State (Colorado) wrestling program since 1990 when he first suited up for the Mountaineers. A two-time All-American, the Fowler, Colorado, product served as an assistant coach from 1993-97 before taking over as head coach of a program that won the first two NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships in 1963 and 1964. Under Van Hee, WSU is 186-97-5 in duals with eight top-10 finishes and 19 top-25 finishes at NCAA Championships.
Last March, WSU was 11th at the NCAA meet and crowned NWCA Academic national champions, setting a record for highest grade point average since the award was given.On the mat last week, the Mountaineers beat rival Colorado State-Pueblo, 22-15, and dropped a close 24-19 dual to Nebraska-Kearney. But the bigger news out of Gunnison was Van Hee being named Director of Athletics at WSU. He began his dual role as wrestling coach and AD on Wednesday.
“I’ve put every fiber of my body into Mountaineer wrestling,” Van Hee told the Gunnison Times. “Then to have to make the decision to step down and walk away from that was very tough. It’s been the toughest decision of my life. I talked with the family a lot. Eventually I went with my gut. We agreed it was time to make a change in my career and have a new challenge in life.”
WSU (6-5) faces Colorado-Mesa on Thursday night and competes in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Championships in Colorado Springs, Colorado, this Saturday. Adams State (Colo.) and New Mexico Highlands visit Gunnison for duals Feb. 10 and 11. Van Hee will be matside.
“I’m still focused on wrestling,” Van Hee said. “We still have work to do. I’ll be doing two jobs for a bit here, which means some early mornings and some late nights, but we still need to finish out these next six weeks with wrestling.”The Mountaineers are ranked 22nd in the latest NWCA Division II Coaches Poll with senior All-American 125-pounder Ronnie Wardleigh and sophomore 174-pounder Brandon Supernaw ranked among the nation’s top 12.
RELATED: NWCA DII Rankings
On Wednesday, the NCAA released its standings for the 2017 NCAA Wrestling Awards and one Division II squad, Mercyhurst (Pennsylvania), shows up frequently. Laker 165-pounder Francis Mizia, a senior from Bentleyville, Pennsylvania, leads the pack for the Most Dominant Award and teammate Willie Bohince, (28-1) a 125-pound senior from Level Green (Pennsylvania) is also among the top 10. Mizia (29-1) and Laker senior heavyweight Andy Welton each have eight pins, four behind DII leader Garrett Gray of Tiffin. Mizia is also one of six wrestlers with six technical falls to lead the standings. Welton (27-4) had a 34-second pin in MU’s win over East Stroudsburg last Saturday.
Mercyhurst is not the only Pennsylvania school represented. Of the 30 individuals listed between Most Dominant, pins, and technical falls, 12 represent the Keystone State. Mizia, Bohince, and Welton are joined by Carmine Ciotti (Gannon, 125) and Tyler Reinhart (Pittsburgh-Johnstown, 165) in the Most Dominant top 10, Ciotti, Reinhart, and Tyler Richardson (East Stroudsburg, 174) in pins, and Cody Law (UPJ, 157) and Austin Petril (Kutztown, 125) in technical falls. Petril and Bohince should square off when the Lakers dual Kutztown on Friday. Petril has just four losses this season, three coming to Division I opponents.
The leader in Division I, Penn State, has four of the top 10 in the Most Dominant Award standings.
Tiffin (Ohio) heavyweight Garrett Gray owns four of the Dragons’ top 10 best seasons regarding pins. The Martin, Ohio, native had six pins has a freshman, good for 10th. As a junior he set a school record with 24, breaking his own season record of 21 from the previous season. Gray enters this Friday’s match with Lake Erie College (Ohio) with a Division II-leading 12 pins and 63 for his career. Jake Cramer, a 2016 graduate, ranks second all-time at Tiffin with 24 pins.
A few duals to watch
Top-ranked St. Cloud State (12-1) hosts Minnesota State-Mankato on Saturday. The Mavericks (7-3) are coming off a win over Upper Iowa and are led by 174-pounder Adam Cooling (25-1), whose only loss this season is to Iowa’s Alex Meyer. SCSU senior Clayton Jennissen is 21-5 and ranked fourth, one spot behind Cooling.Maryville (Missouri) outscored two opponents 42-15 last week. Head coach Mike Denney’s Saints (4-3) wrestle at Indianapolis this Saturday with a possible 141-pound bout featuring All-Americans Nate Rodriguez of MU and Nick Crume of UI, ranked 1 and 3, respectively, in the latest Division II Coaches Association rankings, one to watch. Ashland (Ohio) beat Kutztown and Lake Erie College last week and takes a 6-2 record into a Friday match with Findlay, who went 6-0 at the Super Region Duals last weekend. The Oilers’ top-ranked 149-pounder Nick Goebel outscored six opponents, 101-15, over the two days including a 27-8 technical fall in the Oilers’ 35-3 win over Belmont Abbey. Goebel and AU All-American Brent Fickel highlight this dual.
- Two days after falling to Western State and less than a week after a loss to Central Oklahoma, Colorado State-Pueblo finished last week with a 22-21 win over Nebraska-Kearney. The Thunderwolves (8-5), who advanced to the NWCA National Duals semifinals in early January, got a major decision from 197-pounder Cody Johnson to take a seven-point lead with one bout to wrestle. Paul Garcia had a pin in 39 seconds at 133 pounds, and 174-pounder Kyle Bateman finished his match in 4:42 to key Pueblo’s victory.
- Central Oklahoma moved its win streak to 24 and its 2016-17 record to 17-0 with a 43-6 win over Newman (Kansas) on Wednesday night. The Bronchos, who host Ft. Hays State on Sunday, had five pins on Wednesday.
- California Baptist claimed five titles at the California Collegiate hosted by San Francisco State last weekend. Peter Cunningham (141), Anthony Racobaldo (149), Christian Smith (165), Nolan Kistler (174), and Greg Gaxiola (157), wrestling unattached. Cunningham outscored three opponents, 42-6. The Lancers compete at the RMAC Championships in Colorado Springs, Colorado, this Saturday.