After 11 years at the helm, Jason Milham gets record number of district placers

ARCHIVE PHOTO: MATT RAWLINGS - Freshman Tyson Resko was one of Wilsonvilles state finalists. Wilsonville had its most successful year of wrestling to date. The school sent 13 wrestlers to the state wrestling tournament after having 19 placers at the Northwest Oregon Conference districts. Out of the 13 that competed at Veteran's Memorial Coliseum, three placed and two were finalists.

The team finished second at districts, and 11th in the state tournament. When you ask how Wilsonville head coach Jason Milham how he feels about the season now that it's ended, you will get the answer you would expect after such a successful season.

"Great," Milham said. "It was a successful season. When you look at the history of the program, it's never achieved success like we did this year."

The Wildcats had the raw talent to make this year a success, and after a few strong tournament showings the coaching staff picked up a mantra that they ran with. ARCHIVE PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Sophomore Isaac Quesada was a state tournament placer.

"One of my assistant coaches, I think coach Buce, said to me a few times, 'I think we might be better than we think we are,'" Milham said with a chuckle. "I think that was kind of the mantra week after week, as we would talk as coaches. 'We might be a little better than we think we are.'"

They were indeed. On the backs of Perry Rodenbeck, Adzel Villanueva, Tyson Resko, and Isaac Quesada, the team soldiered through the regular season steadily improving. Milham was pleased to see improvement across the board from his wrestlers. ARCHIVE PHOTO: MATT RAWLINGS - Adzel Villanueva at the Oregon Classic.

"The kids learned to compete at a higher level against higher competition, and how to manage matches and things like that," Milham said. "We saw improvement in that regard, like how we approach a match or a situation. We went to quite a few higher level tournaments this year, and the kids had to compete against higher level opponents as you would expect. As a group they responded well to that."

One of the tournaments that Milham pointed out was the Pacific Coast Wrestling Championships, which featured a field of highly regarded wrestlers. It was there that Wilsonville stepped up to compete, but the competition that solidified the up and coming Wildcats' bonafides was the Oregon Classic.

"I think the (Oregon) Classic was more of a turning point as we competed against high level teams from our own state and competed well," Milham said. "We were close with Thurston who was in the trophy hunt this year, and we had another close dual with Hermiston who was in the top 10 this year. The Classic might have been where we recognized that we can compete on a high level with any team in the 5A level, and that was exciting for us."

Milham took pride in the work of his athletes and coaching staff. While he realized the contributions of individuals were important, the cohesion of everyone's efforts were crucial to the Wildcat's success.

"In my experience in coaching over the years, to have high levels of success things have to come together in the right way and it's not always about talent, although that is important, and it's not always about coaching, although that's important. I think the biggest piece is chemistry amongst all of those pieces, and I'm very proud of the kids. There's great camaraderie amongst them, and they worked well together."

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