Wrestling: Douglas grad wins California Community College State Championship

It wasn't much more than a year ago that Shane Miller's ticket to Division I wrestling was taken right out of his hands.

After two seasons at Lassen College, however, Miller has been vaulted a couple steps higher than he would have been had his original plan carried been carried through.

Miller, a 2006 graduate of Douglas High School, won the California Community College State Wrestling Championship in the 197-pound class last week, completing his season with a record of 26-5.

The win, which came along with All-American honors for 2007, has some of the top Division I wrestling programs in the Western United States knocking Miller's door down.

It's a far cry from where he stood a year and a half ago on his graduation day.

After completing a remarkable senior season during which he won the Nevada state championship for 189-pounders,compiled a 50-1 record and advanced to the round of 16 at the National High School Coaches Association Wrestling Championships, Miller accepted an offer to wrestle at Fresno State University.

Miller, who was Douglas' first individual state wrestling champion in 12 years at the time and the only one since, appeared ready to take the college scene by storm.

And then the phone call came.

"I was getting ready to go over to the high school for graduation and Fresno State called me to tell me they were dropping their wrestling program completely," Miller said. "I was pretty mad. I thought I had the next four or five years all planned out and it changed like that.

"By that point, it was too late for any other school to sign me. All the scholarships were handed out. The offer to go to Fresno was still open, but I wouldn't have been able to wrestle. "

Miller set to work and showed up at Lassen College on the first day of school.

"I just kind of showed up there," Miller said. "I knew they had a good program, and the school was close to Reno, so I knew I could still come back and see my friends. I wanted to stay close to home so it was a good fit."

The adjustment to wrestling on the next level was a bit of a leap at first.

"It was pretty tough getting used to wrestling in college," Miller said. "The practices weren't too hard because my high school coaches were pretty good.

"But the competition was something else. Everybody knows how to wrestle, so you never really have an easy match."

To add to it, Miller was forced down to 184 pounds his first year, as opposed to the logical step up to 197 pounds from high school.

"I was killing myself to make weight at 184," Miller said. "It was tough."

He ended up taking eighth at the state championships last year, but headed into this season ready to take on the competition in the 197-pound class.

"It was a more natural fit for me there," Miller said. "I lifted weights a lot in the offseason, but I didn't do a whole lot to change things up. Things really just kind of clicked this year."

He spent the majority of the year ranked third in the state behind Sierra College's Mingo Grant and Modesto's Jordan Lefler.

The rankings, though, were a bit deceiving as Miller had beaten Lefler twice heading into the state championships. He'd also faced off against Grant four times, each time losing a close match but each time drawing closer to a win.

"It was to the point where I really believed I could beat him (Grant) if we had to meet up again," Miller said.

The state championships, as luck would have it, were set for Fresno City College, ironically in the same city where Miller had first believed he'd spend his collegiate career.

He received a first-round bye and beat Palomar's Greg Villalobos 6-3 in the second round.

To the Miller's surprise, Grant took a second-round loss, leaving Lefler and Miller as the top contenders in the class.

Miller pinned Al Kinslow of Cerritos in 6:01 to advance to the championship and took a hard-fought 9-7 over Lefler in the championship match to claim the title. It was his second title in as many states in as many calendar years.

"It was a weird feeling," Miller said. "I thought that if I was going to win the state title, I was going to have to go through (Grant).

"I would've felt better if I could've beaten him, but I was really happy to win it."

Lassen finished third as a team, but did not qualify for nationals, meaning Miller and the rest of his teammates will be looking at competing in a few open tournaments next semester.

Since his win, though, he's been busy trying to pick out a school to wrestle for next year -- this time, he hopes, for the long haul.

Among the top suitors right now are UC Davis and Portland State, both schools that compete in the Pac-10 Conference in wrestling. He's also considering San Francisco State and Southern Oregon University.

"I'm mostly just talking to schools in the area, because I'd really like to stick around closer to home," Miller said. "I'm hoping to make a decision in the next month. I just want to keep wrestling."

For the time being, it appears as though he's bought himself a couple more years.


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