Friday, May 25, 2007

Bellevue wrestler awarded scholarships to Stanford

Murdoch Miller excels in both athletics and academics

Express Staff Writer

Courtesy photo by Idaho State Journal Murdoch Miller, a former Wood River High School student, celebrates after winning the state 3A wrestling championship in February at Holt Arena in Pocatello. Miller, who now lives in Bellevue, competed his freshman and sophomore years for the Wolverines and his junior and senior years for the American Falls Beavers. A 4.0 student, Miller has been awarded scholarships in both academics and athletics to Stanford University in California.

Murdoch Miller, a state wrestling champion, valedictorian and former Wood River High School wrestling standout, has been awarded scholarships in both athletics and academics at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif.

Murdoch, who now lives in Bellevue with his parents Don and Barbara Miller, attended WRHS his freshman and sophomore years and American Falls High School as a junior and senior.

As captain of the wrestling team, he led the American Falls Beavers to a second place finish in February at the state 3A championships at Holt Arena in Pocatello. He also won the state title in the 152-pound weight class.

If that wasn't enough, Murdoch participated in the national high school wresting championships and placed 10th in a field of 66 wrestlers from throughout the U.S., defeating state champions from Arizona, North Carolina, Virginia and New York state.

But wrestling is only one of Murdoch's passions. He is also a standout student, graduating earlier this year from American Falls High School as valedictorian with a 4.0 grade point average.

His achievements in both wrestling and in the classroom led to not one, but two scholarships to Stanford.

"He got into Stanford academically first," said his father. "He's great at both academics and athletics, but the academic scholarship is the better of the two."

At Stanford, Murdoch plans to major in biology with an eye toward medical school. In the meantime, he plans to pursue his wrestling career at a Division 1 level, the highest in the nation.

The story of how Murdoch ended up at American Falls is an interesting one. He was a standout wrestler for the Wolverines in his freshman and sophomore years, but at the end the 2004-2005 season, former Wood River wrestling coach Danny Turner announced his retirement.

With Turner gone, the Wood River wrestling program is in somewhat of disarray the following season. Participation was low and the program didn't get back on track until 2006 when Tyson Young was recruited as head coach.

In the meantime, the Millers wanted to give Murdoch the opportunity to pursue his wrestling career, so they bought a second home in American Falls, mainly because the high school had an outstanding wrestling coach by the name of Jim Guilio.

During Murdoch's junior and senior years, the Millers lived a two-town existence.

"My wife and I took turns driving back and forth every day," said Don Miller. "We had a parent living with him all the time.

"They made us feel really welcome there," Don Miller said. "The coach was ecstatic to have him there and the community was really good to us."

Don Miller said he considered letting Murdoch return to Wood River High School for his senior year, but by the end of his junior year Murdoch had been elected captain of the wrestling team and was firmly entrenched in the program.

"I would have loved to have let him wrestle for Tyson," said Don Miller. "But out of respect for his team and coach in American Falls we let him stay there."

Murdoch graduated early. The Millers put their American Falls home up for sale and now live a more normal life in the Wood River Valley. Murdoch is currently employed at Roosevelt Tavern and Grill in Ketchum, waiting for fall entry at Stanford and looking forward to Division 1 wrestling competition.

"Which means he could end up wrestling his brother at the Air Force Academy," said Don Miller.

He was referring to older son Duane Miller, a former standout WRHS wrestler who will be a senior this year at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. Don Miller said his sons are similar in size and might both end up in the 165-pound weight division.

"It will be a quiet Christmas dinner because that's the start of the wrestling season," Don Miller said. "They could possibly meet in three different tournaments this year. I don't even want to be there. Who do you root for? One guy could drop bombs on your house and the other one could never speak to you again."

Murdoch, on the other hand, is looking forward to taking on his older brother.

"It's going to be pretty interesting," he said. "It's going to be a pretty good rivalry I think. It's a friendly rivalry—he pushes me, I push him—it goes back and forth.

"I'll definitely be gunning for him," Murdoch said. "He's got that older brother mentality, but I'll be gunning for him."

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