Mike Duroe passes away after nearly year-long battle with cancer

Mike Duroe coaching Brent Metcalf at the Pan American Olympic Qualifier (Photo/Tony Rotundo,

Mike Duroe, long associated with coaching wrestling at all levels -- most recently as head wrestling coach at Cornell College of Iowa -- passed away early Friday morning at his home in Marion, Iowa after a nearly year-long battle with brain cancer. He was 63.

Duroe's coaching career spanned nearly four decades, and incorporated high school, collegiate, national, and world levels. He had served as an assistant to the U.S. Men's Freestyle coaching staff in six Olympics (1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016) as well as head coach of Guam's freestyle wrestling team in 2008. Duroe was also a member of the U.S. coaching staff for the Pan American Games in 2003 and 2007, and was named Volunteer Coach of the Year by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) in 2006 and 2007.

For the past 13 seasons, Duroe had coached the Cornell Rams, becoming the winningest coach in the Mount Vernon, Iowa-based school's storied wrestling history. (Cornell College owns the distinction of being the smallest school to win an NCAA team title, in 1947.) He was coach during the program's top six dual-win seasons. Since arriving in 2005, Duroe and his Rams had compiled a 139-92-2 dual-meet record, with 44 NCAA Division III championships qualifiers, 19 All-Americans, five NCAA finalists, and one national champion.

Duroe is a member of the National Wrestling Coaches Association Division III Hall of Fame. In January 2018, Duroe was presented the Lifetime Service to Wrestling Award by the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Iowa Chapter for his 38 years of commitment to the sport.

Prior to coming to Cornell, Duroe was head coach at Northern Michigan University, head coach at New Trier (Ill.) High School in suburban Chicago, an assistant at the University of Pennsylvania and head coach of the Northwestern University Wildcat Wrestling Club.

Born in Charles City, Iowa in 1955, Duroe wrestled for the now-defunct mat program at Drake University in Des Moines, where he was a four-year letterwinner and two-time team captain for the Bulldogs. Duroe competed four years on the U.S. freestyle national team (1981-84) and was crowned National AAU Freestyle champion in 1983.

Duroe had made public his diagnosis in September 2017. The past few months has been something of a long goodbye, with wrestlers, fellow coaches and others in the sports world paying tribute.

"We lost a giant in the sport of wrestling today," said Cornell Athletics Director Keith Hackett in a statement issued Friday.

"Mike Duroe was without question one of the finest and most dedicated men in the sport at any level. He developed love of the sport in hundreds, if not thousands, of young athletes and taught them as much about leading a good and successful life as he did about the sport of wrestling. We will all miss him very much."

"Sad to hear about Mike Duroe passing," Nick Mitchell, head wrestling coach of the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) national champion program at Iowa's Grand View University, told the Des Moines Register. "He was a great guy who always made time to catch up at every event we'd see each other at. I hope to make the same kind of impact on the sport that Coach Duroe has."

K.J. Pilcher, long-time wrestling writer for the Cedar Rapids Gazette, posted this message on his Twitter account.

Mike Duroe is survived by his partner Lisa Ikola and children Benson and Adyson.

Cornell College has said it plans a public memorial tribute to Mike Duroe sometime this fall.


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