Hard work paid dividends for the Oregon City Pioneers and their longtime coach in 2013

by: NICK FOCHTMAN - Oregon City Coach Roger RolenLongtime Oregon City High School wrestling coach Roger Rolen has been honored by his peers as the National Wrestling Coaches Association 2013 Coach of the Year for the state of Oregon.

The honor puts Rolen in the running for regional and national Coach of the Year honors.

“I’m honored and humbled to get it,” Rolen said. “But without assistant coaches, the kids and the parents believing in what I promote, it wouldn’t have happened.”

Rolen added, “This means a lot to me, because it’s an acknowledgement of the statement I have in my room: ‘Hard work pays off.’ Hard work doesn’t guarantee success. But it gives you a real good chance at succeeding....

“This is an awesome honor! But there’s no way I would have gotten it without those around me.”

The past season was an historic season under Rolen’s tutelage. After going undefeated in the Three Rivers League for the fifth time in the nine seasons that Rolen has been a head coach at Oregon City, the Pioneers went on to place second to David Douglas at the 2013 TRL/Mt. Hood Conference Regional Tournament, and second to David Douglas at the Class 6A State Tournament.

The second place team finish at the 2013 State Tournament is the highest placing at state by an Oregon City wrestling team in the 65 years that the Oregon School Activities Association has sanctioned a state wrestling tournament.

Rolen has been a part of Oregon City’s wrestling program for most of the past 27 years, after joining the program as a volunteer assistant in 1986. He was co-head coach with Bill Nugent for two seasons, beginning with the 2004-05 season, and has served as head coach since then.

Rolen explained why he has continued as a high school wrestling coach for so many seasons: “It’s a passion.... It’s the challenge of helping kids reach their potential — helping them be the best that they can be....

“It becomes an addiction, like fishing and hunting is an addiction. I’m addicted to it, and I enjoy spending time with people who have a like passion.”

The Pioneers have had 72 state placers and 11 state champions during Rolen’s tenure. He’s helped coach Oregon City teams to eleven top-10 state tournament finishes, with three teams bringing home trophies — third place in 2002, tied for fourth place in 2010 and second place in 2013.

Oregon City’s state champions during Rolen’s tenure include: Cody Claymier and Dustin Maddox in 1991; Ryan Snegirev in 1999; Snegirev, Mark Bradley and Justin Pearch in 2002; John Bates in 2004; Jacob Morris in 2007; Jared Groner and Kyle Sether in 2011; and Sether in 2013.

Oregon City teams, under Rolen’s tutelage, have gone 45-8 in Three Rivers League dual meets since 2004-05. His teams won Three Rivers League district tournaments in 2008, 2009 and 2010 and they won the Three Rivers League/Mt. Hood Conference Regional Tournament in 2011.

Rolen’s coaching peers in the TRL have named him league Coach of the Year or league Co-Coach of the Year the last six years in a row.

Rolen coached the Oregon Junior freestyle and Greco Roman teams in 2008, 2010 and 2012; and he coached an Oregon Cultural Exchange team that went to Hungary in 1998. He served as Oregon City Wrestling Club coach and director from 1988 through 2001.

Rolen is a graduate of The Dalles High School (1974) and Western Oregon University (1978). He is a two-time All-American, placing third at the NAIA National Tournament in 1977 and fifth in 1978.

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