Coach Duhrkoop has Milwaukie athletes excited about wrestling

by: JOHN DENNY - Milwaukie veterans (from left) Chris Burton, Brenton Oten and Clay Bispham are excited about the renewed interest in wrestling at Milwaukie High School this winter. The Mustangs have a turnout of 43 wrestlers, including a large number of freshmen.First-year head wrestling coach Brian Duhrkoop has high aspirations for Milwaukie High School’s wrestling program.

“Short term, I want guys to improve on technique so that they are wrestling their best and peak at district,” Duhrkoop said. “Long term, five to 10 years from now, I want us to be a program that competes at the highest level possible. But we’ve got a lot of work to do. We’re a long ways from the Sandy’s and Sherwood’s of this world.”

A 1999 graduate of Milwaukie High School, Duhrkoop has things headed in the right direction, with a turnout of 43 wrestlers. He says that the Mustangs will field close to a complete varsity lineup this year, with only one or two forfeits.

The Mustangs will have plenty of veterans in their first varsity lineup. The lineup includes seven wrestlers who placed at district last year, including three state qualifiers, senior Brenton Oten (170) and juniors Chris Burton ((138-145) and Clay Bispham (220).

Oten was runner-up at 170 to eventual state champion Kyle Bateman of Sandy at last year’s Northwest Oregon Conference district tournament.

Others in the lineup who placed at district a year ago include: senior Zander Carlson (126-132); juniors Justin Edwards (138-145) and Kenan Ragan (170); and sophomore River Meyer, a transfer from Putnam.

Duhrkoop says he also expects good things from senior heavyweight Anthony Gutierrez and juniors Jordan Ostrander (126) and Ji’laundre Edwards (136-142).

Ostrander had high expectations last year but had his season ended early when he suffered an injury just prior to the district tournament.

“Three-fourths of our team are new to wrestling, but we have a new coaching staff and a great turnout,” said Burton. “I’m excited to see what the team can do over the next four or five years.”

“We’re young, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing,” said Oten. “We have some veterans who are pretty good and the new guys are only going to get better as the season goes along. If everyone stays positive and keeps working hard as a team, we could have a pretty decent team by district.”

“We have a lot of young guys that haven’t wrestled before, but they’re improving every day,” said Bispham. “When district comes, I think they’ll be ready for it....

“I think that by the time of district, we can be best in our league. I think it will be between us and Sandy at district.”

The Mustangs will see three Northwest Oregon opponents this Thursday, when they travel to Wilsonville for a tournament with the Wildcats, Putnam and St. Helens.

A math teacher at Milwaukie for the past seven years, Duhrkoop is not new to coaching. He was assistant wrestling coach to Dan Williamson at Milwaukie in 2005 and 2006. He assisted in baseball in 2005 and 2006 and was head baseball coach in 2007-2009.

Duhrkoop was a standout student/athlete when he attended Milwaukie High School. A 4.0 student and class valedictorian, he earned a full-ride athletic scholarship to Oregon State University, where he was in the starting wrestling lineup for two seasons, earning a .500 record on a college team that was ranked among the best in the U.S.

A three-time district champion and two-time state place-winner, Duhrkoop earned a 105-10 record in four seasons as a varsity wrestler for Milwaukie. He placed fourth at state as a junior and was state runner-up at 152 his senior season.

Duhrkoop earned first-team all-league honors as a punter and place kicker in football, averaging 39.8 yards on punts and missing only one extra point. His efforts as a punter gained him all-state recognition.

The Mustang talent had plenty of success in baseball as well. A first-team all-league shortstop, he hit .438 his senior year, earning a spot on the school’s newly inaugurated .400 club.

Duhrkoop says he has been working hard to get better coordination between Milwaukie youth and high school wrestling programs. He says he’s extended an open invitation to members of the community’s kid wrestling club to attend high school workouts and work out with the high school team. Youth interested in joining the Milwaukie Mat Club can do so by contacting Rod Hale at 503-786-0374.

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