new head coach for the Crook County High School wrestling program has been found by way of the state of Illinois. Rob Porter, who guided Mahomet-Seymour High School in Mahomet, Ill., to a 254-44-3 dual meet record in his 11 years as head coach, has been hired to take over the Prineville squad, it was announced in a press release late Thursday. He replaces former Cowboy head coach Pete Lucas, who resigned in March. Porter, who was offered the position just a few days before his 35th birthday, has been nominated for Illinois coach of year four times and has guided his team to four third-place Illinois state tournament finishes. “He just has a great enthusiasm for this challenge,” said Bob Shields, athletic director for Crook County High School. Porter’s background in wrestling extends beyond the high school level. He is set to compete as a freestyle wrestler in the Veteran’s World Championships in Switzerland in August. In addition, his father was the head wrestling coach at the University of Illinois and is still affiliated with the program. Shields feels Porter’s extensive experience will help further the success of the sport in Crook County. “We’ve had a high standard and a very, very strong tradition,” Shields said. “I think that tradition will continue. I think we’re in a position to hopefully move up.” According to Shields, Porter was one of four applicants interviewed for the position and one of two from the Midwest. The other two interviewees were from central Oregon. “I was excited and I was thrilled,” Porter said Monday afternoon about his new position. “This was a dream of both mine and my wife’s, to be able to have a job opportunity in the Northwest. Oregon’s certainly a beautiful state and we’re looking forward to moving out there.” Porter visited Prineville May 11 through 13. After an extensive interview process Saturday, May 12, in which he met with Shields, CCHS principal Ken Parshall and district superintendent Gary Peterson, Porter and his wife set off to climb Smith Rock Sunday before returning to Illinois that afternoon. “Mr. Shields, Mr. Parshall and Mr. Peterson really made it a very attractive place to come and work and teach and coach,” Porter said. “Obviously wrestling is a big sport at Crook County and there’s a lot of potential there. The kids certainly sound like they enjoy the sport very much as does the community so this can be a wonderful experience.” Porter will be teaching math and computer classes at CCHS, while assistant wrestling coaches Rob Bonner and Jason Ebbs will continue in their roles under Porter. “I don’t see myself making sweeping changes or anything like that,” Porter said. “I’m really going to count on my assistant coaching staff to bring me along and show me the ropes and give me an opportunity to really get an idea of what Oregon wrestling is all about. Really we’re going to concentrate a lot on fundamentals and just go from there.”
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