Wildcat matmen honor coach Murph during senior night

Photo by Shawn Long WEAR DOWN TO WIN–Wilmington’s Karsen Hansen takes his opponent Gabe Alvarez to the mat and attempts to wear him down.

Shawn Long
Sports Writer

by shawn long Sports writer The Wilmington matmen honored coach Rob Murphy on Tuesday night during their senior night dual team match with Clifton Central. Even though they dropped the match, 60-18 to the Comets, the night was about a whole lot more than a wrestling match. It was about celebrating their wrestling coach who has done so much for the program. It was a night when past wrestlers and even opposing coaches came out to support him, and he was grateful. “I just want to thank everybody that came here,” said Murphy. “To have success it takes a lot of people. Everybody that came here from the past, I had my old junior college coach that was here. Right over here, this guy here Bob Waska, we played football in college together and wrestled together. We went on the other side of the world to Japan and Korea and wrestled in Seoul, Tokyo and Japan together in freestyle and Greco in the summer of 1987 before the 88 Olympics. “To have success, you’ve got to have athletes, you’ve got to have great parents--I’ve been lucky, my wife has been doing stats. Dana Knight has been doing stats and working our head tables and for many years our team mom Jodi Shields--she’s done that for a number of years. There’s so many people you just want to thank them all. It’s just amazing how many people you meet that you like. I’ve seen my opposing coaches that I’ve been against, the Bishop Mac coach Dave Zinnani was here and other coaches, I see Mark Masters from Coal City is over there and Yale Davis from Reed-Custer is over there. They’re coming over here to support and congratulate me and that’s just awesome. Everybody thinks it’s all about competition but it’s also about fellowship and the friends you make and the people you meet. It’s very humbling.” Murphy started coaching the wrestling program in 1994. A year later he had his first winning season and in 2001 his first regional title and his first year qualifying a team to state. He brought teams to state seven other years, winning three state titles (2007, 2008, 2009). He led teams to two runner-up trophies (2006, 2017) and a fourth place trophy in 2010. Murphy has led the ‘Cats to 563 of the program’s 887 all-time wins with a winning percentage at .771, one of the best in school history. Only football coach Jeff Reents has a higher winning percentage. His teams have also captured nine sectional titles, 18 regional championships and 11 conference titles. Individually, Murph’s wrestlers have been some of the best around the area as well as in the state. He’s coached 122 state qualifiers with 67 state placers. Of those placers, there’s been 13 state champions, including his son Rob Murphy Jr, who won his in 2005. That opened the door for so many more, including in 2008 which was their best year when they not only won state but had three champions. Rob Jr. and Rob Sr. are tied with nine state trophies. “My son Rob there. I’m now tied with him with the most state medals because he got three in baseball, first, third, and first. He got one in football, the first year we took second. When he was a state champion, that was five and then he coached the first year we took second, first, first, first and fourth so he’s got nine and I’ve got nine. They won’t count my Coal City third place one--they say it’s not a Wilmington medal but I’ve got the tiebreaker. All my kids they grew up being in gyms all the time. They’re all really good athletes including my daughter Erin. She’s the only one that was for all four years, she was a varsity athlete in three sports for all four years. Rob and Jake never did that so she’s got the bragging rights over the two brothers.” Accolades and statistics are great but it’s not what has been important to Murph. It’s about making progression. “When you go into something to do something, you don’t set goals. I’m going to win over 500 duals. You just try to practice hard and work hard and good things will happen for you. Those things that happen that you accomplish they just happen naturally. I think people they sit there ‘I want to do this I want to do that’ No. Just go there work hard, bust your butt, wrestled as hard as you can or play that football game as hard as you can and good things will happen. That’s basically it in a nutshell. I give all the credit--I couldn’t have done this without my wife Tina and I give her all the credit. She’s been working that table there for 28 years. She’s been everything from when I was Lincoln, we had wrestling cheerleaders and she was the sponsor of that. She was in charge of being a stat girl in high school when I was on the Coal City team and just the support and being there. She’s been at every national tournament I wrestled in college. She’s done everything from doing hospitality room and everything. In those early years, Tina did it all. I thank her for being here. I thank my kids for being here and my grandkids and I love them all.” Murphy has been an icon for the school’s wrestling program and for its football program where he’s helped win two state titles and a runner-up trophy. He made one thing clear when asked about whether or not he’ll miss coaching. He wants to live his life and do things while he can. “I’ll miss the Friday nights being on the football field in the Wildcat Den, especially here in Wilmington. I’ll miss that. I’ll miss being at the state meet and stuff like that. But there’s more important things to do. I want to go out and do stuff when I can physically do stuff. I can hunt, I can fish, I can walk, I can swim and I can do stuff while I’m healthy...so that’s what I want. I don’t want to be there when I retire from doing stuff and I can’t even walk and I’ve got a cane. I’m looking forward to going places with my wife and doing things and supporting her the way she supported me all those years. So we’re looking forward to this together and we’re going to have some fun.” The ‘Cats got 18 points from two forfeits and two decisions but after that Clifton Central took over. But it didn’t matter to Murph what the outcome of the match was. He’s been proud of his wrestlers all year. “Our Wilmington kids will always go out and battle,” commented Murphy. “That’s never been a problem of not wrestling hard. That’s our team and they wrestled tonight. I’ve been proud of them all year. They’re a good group of kids and we’ve had a lot of fun this year.” The Wildcats will prepare for the Seneca Regional which will be Saturday, Feb. 5. Wilmington 18, Clifton Central 60 152 - Parker Adams (W) 17-10 dec. over Andrade. 160 - I. Alvarez (C) fall over Dezirae Yanke, 1:27. 170 - Perzee (C) win by FFT. 182 - A.Miller (C) fall over Joel Greenridge, 1:10. 195 - G.Alvarez (C) fall over Karsen Hansen, 3:26. 220 - Hull (C) win by FFT. 285 - Gomez (C) fall over Blake Shirey, 2:26. 106 - Alivia George (W) win by FFT. 113 - B.Hemp (C) fall Abigail Lafreniere, :16. 120 - Landon Dooley (W) 13-10 dec. over K.Cody. 126 - Aubin Shields (W) win by FFT. 132 - G.Panozzo (C) fall over Nate Romano, :31. 138 - B. Morris (C) win by FFT. 145 - K. Krumwiede (C) fall over Skyler Ortiz.