COOS BAY — Marshfield High School has a new wrestling coach with ties to the school’s past success in the sport and a pedigree that includes leading Reedsport to this year’s Class 2A-1A state title.
Bo Hampton takes over the Pirates, replacing Tyler Strenke, who has moved with his family to the Willamette Valley.
Hampton wrestled for legendary Marshfield coach Wayne Van Burger, graduating in 2001. He spent the past six years coaching at Reedsport, including leading the Brave to the state title in February, the school’s first in the sport since 1967.
“It’s awesome to be coming back to Marshfield,” Hampton said. “That’s kind of where it started.”
Hampton’s dad, Rod, coached in the Marshfield mat club for 15 years (he also helped Hampton coach in Reedsport this year).
“That’s where me and my brother got started in wrestling,” Hampton said.
He wasn’t looking to leave Reedsport, but when the Marshfield job came open, he viewed it as a great opportunity.
Hampton and his wife, Valerie, live in Coos Bay and their three daughters — twin 7-year-olds and an 11-year-old — are in schools in Coos Bay. Plus, he works as an educational assistant at Millicoma School, fittingly where Marshfield’s new wrestling room will be since the Harding Building that housed the program has been torn down.
He looks forward to not spending so much time driving back and forth to Reedsport.
“That’s an hour and a half every day that I will get back with my family,” he said. “That was the biggest driving factor.”
Marshfield athletic director Greg Mulkey said Hampton is a good fit for the program.
“One of the things is obviously he wrestled for us and went to our high school,” Mulkey said. “I think his resume speaks for itself. He built a nice resume at Reedsport.”
This year Reedsport stopped the six-year run of championships by powerhouse Culver, with the Brave claiming three individual titles along the way.
That came after Reedsport put two wrestlers in the finals in both 2018 and 2019.
In addition to Reedsport winning the title, Hampton was named coach of the year for the entire state by the Oregon Wrestling Association.
“We’re excited to have him,” Mulkey said. “He has some challenges in front of him to get our numbers up from what they’ve been and I’m confident he will do that.
“I’m excited for him and I’m excited for the wrestling program.”
At Reedsport, Hampton built the program with a stress on wrestling throughout the year, including big summer tournaments.
That paid off this year when Aaron Solomon, Eli Carson and Miguel Velazquez won individual state titles, Christian Solomon placed third and Adam Solomon and Jose Martinez both finished fourth.
The result was the narrow win over Culver.
“It was kind of like an amazing finish,” he said. “We definitely didn’t expect (a state title).
“Our goal was to go there and bring home a trophy.”
He credited the work during the summer as a key element in the title.
“That’s what gave our kids success,” Hampton said. “None of them had wrestled that long.
“It’s wonderful what they’ve been able to accomplish. It’s what they bought into three years ago. They definitely put in the work to make it happen.”
He can’t wait to begin building Marshfield’s program as soon as teams can get back to work following the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We hadn’t been out of the (wrestling) room for more than a month in three years,” he said. “To not be able to go into the room is frustrating.”
He’s excited to get started trying to generate excitement with Marshfield’s mat club.
“Just having a lot more kids in the community makes it a little easier to build it back up,” Hampton said. “And there’s a lot of support at the club level, which makes it nice.”
Mulkey said that will be important.
“No doubt, if you want to have a good program … you have to build it from the ground up and he’s got a good support group that will help him,” Mulkey said.
“He’s got the energy and he’s got the vision and that’s important.”
Hampton said he also will miss the Reedsport team and the community that has embraced that program.
“It was amazing up there, the families up there and the kids up there and everybody buying in,” he said. “That was pretty hard to leave.”