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Western States loses dual at home and Coach VanHee announced as the new Director of Athletics

01 Feb 2017

Staff Writer, Western States, GUNNISON, Colo. – After upsetting No. 13 CSU-Pueblo the night before, Western State Colorado University wrestling pushed No. 2 University of Nebraska Kearney to the brink. The dual came down to five points, as UNK (14-5, 2-1 MIAA) defeated Western 24-19.  Western (6-4, 2-1 RMAC) earned bonus points in three of the four matches the Mountaineers won on Friday night.  Western's Ronald Wardleigh, the Division II leader in falls, recorded his 11th pin of the season to begin the dual. Wardleigh pinned UNK's Vlad Kazakov in 4:06 to give the Mountaineers a 6-0 lead.  The Lopers would tie the dual at 6-6, winning the next two bouts by decision. 
Ian Steen would put the Mountaineers back on top, earning his second pin in as many matches. Steen earned a fall over UNK's Tevin Briscoe in the 149-pound match to give Western a 12-6 lead.  UNK would take their first lead of the dual, 15-12, after winning the next two bouts.  At 174 pounds, Brandon Supernaw earned three points for the Mountaineers to tie the Lopers at 15 points. Supernaw earned a convincing 9-3 decision against Richard Miranda as both teams battled for supremacy.  UNK would again go ahead by three points before Western's 197-pounder, Mick Dougharity gave Western a 19-18 lead heading into the final match of the night. Dougharity tilted UNK's Trey Schlender on his way to a 9-1 major decision.  The Lopers would win the 285 pound match with a fall and take the dual 24-19, but the Mountaineers proved they could battle with the best teams in the country after heading into the weekend unranked.  The Mountaineers will continue the season next Thursday with the Battle in Brownson against Colorado Mesa University.

  After 20 years at the helm of Western State Colorado University wrestling, Miles Van Hee was named the next Director of Athletics for Mountaineer Athletics. Western Executive Vice President Brad Baca made the announcement on Friday.  "I'm extremely honored and thankful for this opportunity to be able to continue working with my current colleagues in the athletic department as the new Athletic Director for Mountaineer Athletics," Van Hee said. "I look forward to collaborating with the coaching staff, athletic administrative staff and the rest of the University to elevate Mountaineer Athletics and Western State Colorado University."  Van Hee will officially begin his duties as Athletics Director on Feb. 1. He will also continue coaching Western wrestling until the end of the 2016-17 season in March.  "I am extremely excited about the appointment of Miles into this very important role," Baca said. "Over the past two decades, he has exponentially grown the visibility, reputation, external funding and competitive performance of the wrestling program and he will bring that same level of passion and expertise to the broader department." A Mountaineer through and through, Van Hee has been a part of Western Athletics for 27 years. First as a student-athlete, then as an assistant coach and finally as a nationally decorated head coach. 
"As an alum and former student athlete, Miles understands Western, our tradition and our potential like no other," Baca continued. "With Miles leadership along with the tremendously talented staff and coaches that surround him, the future is bright for Mountaineer Athletics."  Van Hee's dedication to the student-athlete experience as well as fundraising has been a staple of his wrestling program since becoming Western wrestling's head coach in 1997.  "We will do this together, finding opportunities for all programs to be successful.  One team, one fight," Van Hee remarked. "I would like to thank President Salsbury and Executive Vice President Brad Baca for trusting me to lead this amazing group of competitors." 
Along with coaching 55 All-Americans, 15 national finalists and six National Champions, Van Hee has helped Mountaineer wrestlers earn 83 All-Academic awards including three Academic All-America honors. As a team, the Western wrestling program was the 2016 NCAA Division II National Wrestling Coaches Association Academic National Champions. The Mountaineers have also finished runner-up for the Academic National Title twice and finished in the top-20 nine other times.  As the Director of the Rocky Mountain Wrestling Camps - the longest running and one of the most successful wrestling camps in America, Van Hee consistently brings in over 1,200 wrestlers and coaches from over 100 high schools and 12 states in one of the largest fundraising efforts by any Western athletic program. The late legendary Western wrestling coach, Tracy Borah, started the Rocky Mountain Wrestling Camp in 1963. 
Nationally recognized as one of the best coaches in the country, Van Hee received the Division II Bob Bubb Award for Coaching Excellence last season.  In 2004, Van Hee was named the NCAA Division II National Coach of the Year and has been cited by National Wrestling Hall of Fame – Colorado Chapter as "Colorado College Coach of the Year" on five occasions (2001, 2004, 2009, 2010, 2011). He is also a four-time Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Coach of the Year (2005, 2009, 2010, 2014).  This season, Van Hee earned the most wins by any coach in Western history, passing Mountaineer Hall of Fame member Tracy Borah. Van Hee's dual record is 180-92-5 and his teams have finished in the top-24 every year and in the top-10 nine times. They have won three NCAA II Regional Titles, Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference titles and have been in the top three in the Regional and RMAC Championships 14 times.  The Mountaineers won 16 straight home duals from 2008-09 through the 2010-11 season.  
Van Hee wrestled for the Mountaineers from 1990-93. He was a two-time All-American and RMAC champion, and a NCAA Division II West Regional champion. In 1992, he was selected as a member of the USA-Collegiate Cultural Exchange Team that toured Poland and Germany.  Originally from Fowler, Colo., Van Hee also was three-time high school state champion at Fowler High School and an Asics Junior National All-American and Cadet All-American. He holds a bachelor's degree in technology from Western State (1994) and earned his master's degree in sports management and administration from the University of Northern Colorado in 1997. 
He and his wife, Tonya - who is the Director of Alumni Relations for Western – have two boys, Bryson and Jared.