Sports, Wrestling

Miller announces 2012-13 will be his final season

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Legendary Wartburg wrestling co-head coach Jim Miller will retire after the 2012-13 season, athletic director Rick Willis announced Tuesday.

Co-head coach Eric Keller, who has been with Wartburg for 12 years, will take over the program.

Miller was hired as head coach in 1991 and has won 20 consecutive Iowa Conference championships and nine NCAA Division III championships during his tenure.

The Knights have won 157 straight IIAC dual matches and four of the last five national championships, including the last two.

Miller’s career record stands at 394-34-2. 34 individual national champions and 138 All-Americans have wrestled under Miller.

Miller said he made the decision in mid-August and that hiring Keller was an easy decision.

“This was not a spur of the moment decision,” Miller said. “Sometimes in life you may not have a lot of specific reasons why you know it’s right at this time, but you just know.”

Wartburg wrestling co-head coach Jim Miller announces he will step down after the 2012-13 season at a press conference Tuesday.
Wartburg wrestling co-head coach Jim Miller announces he will step down after the 2012-13 season at a press conference Tuesday.

Miller graduated from the University of Northern Iowa in 1975 and when he came to Wartburg in 1991, the Knights hadn’t won a conference championship in 15 years.

“When I came, we had a solid program but we weren’t winning championships. We had a group of athletes that took it upon themselves to change the culture of this place,” Miller said.

Miller said at that time, he had a goal of winning one championship.

“Every once in awhile you get the ability to stop and look up and go, ‘Wow! Did all that happen?’”

“For me, Wartburg wrestling became my dream job. I found out there were no limits on what you could accomplish here,” Miller said.

Keller has been with Miller at Wartburg for 12 years, beginning as an assistant from 2000-05.

In 2006, he became head coach at North Central College, leading the Cardinals to an undefeated record and being named the NWCA Rookie Coach of the Year.

One year later, he was back at Wartburg as associate head coach. He was named co-head coach in March of 2010.

“I am extremely humbled and honored to be taking over a program that has meant so much to me over the past 12 years both personally and professionally,” Keller said.

“The lessons I have learned from him (Miller) extend far beyond the wrestling mat. He is a coaching legend and I truly believe there is no one better at mentoring young coaches,” Keller said.

Miller will remain at Wartburg in a capacity that is yet to be determined. He will still be involved in wrestling.

“I am excited about this season and I wanted to get this announcement behind us so all would know the situation up front and our team and staff could move on and attack the upcoming year,” Miller said.

“I am very, very proud of what has transpired here with our student-athletes on and off the mat.”

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