July 31. 2008 7:49PM
From Cornell to China via Guam
By J.R. Ogden
Cliff Jette/The GazetteCornell Coach Mike Duroe yells instructions during a match at the NWCA Cliff Keen National Duals in 2007. Duroe will be coaching the one-woman Guam team later this month at the 2008 Olympics.
Cornell wrestling coach Mike Duroe will be in an unusual spot a week from today when the 2008 Olympic Games open in Beijing.
Duroe will be marching during Opening Ceremonies with the seven-member delegation from Guam.
The Olympics are the pot of gold at the end of every amateur athlete's rainbow. The same goes for coaches, who relish the opportunity to work on one of the biggest athletic stages in the world.
So when Duroe did not get one of the official positions on the United States freestyle staff, he got an offer he couldn't refuse from Neal Kranz, president of the Guam Amateur Wrestling Federation.
"I was very interested in helping him out and interested in a new twist, a new challenge," Duroe said Thursday in a telephone interview on his way back from the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Duroe's new "team" was working with the U.S. wrestlers in Colorado Springs and riding back to Iowa City with him Thursday. This team consists of one wrestler, Maria Dunn, the first female from Guam to ever earn an Olympic berth.
How's that for a new twist?
"We have a great relationship and she's easy to work with," Duroe said of Dunn, who began working with him in May in Mount Vernon and Iowa City. "She's improved a lot. I'm real optimistic."
Dunn, 22, is a junior at the University of Hawaii, wrestling at 138.75 pounds. She takes the mat Aug. 17 at the China Agricultural University Gymnasium.
Kranz, the "one-man show" from the GAWF, also has ties to Iowa. He wrestled in the 1995 World Championships for Guam and the coach in his corner was Dan Gable, the legendary University of Iowa coach and close friend of Guam's new head coach.
"Gable has been the head coach for Guam, too," Duroe said with a laugh.
While he admits this is an unusual assignment, it's one he's taking very seriously. Duroe, who directed Cornell to a seventh-place finish at the NCAA Division III Championships in March, is a veteran international coach and worked with the U.S. men's freestyle teams at the 1996, 2000 and 2004 Olympics. This is his fourth Olympic coaching position.
He was named the United States Olympic Committee Volunteer Coach of the Year in 2006 and '07.
"Anytime you're in the Olympics ... it's exciting and, obviously, an honor," said Duroe, who once served as the U.S. national women's freestyle coach.
The Guam coaching assignment affords him the opportunity to work with the U.S. men's freestyle team. He will serve as a volunteer on a staff that includes former Iowa State standout Kevin Jackson, Kerry McCoy, Lee Kemp and Steve Silver.
He has worked closely with two Olympians ? Iowa assistant coaches Doug Schwab and Mike Zadick, who is holding out hope of competing in Beijing.
He said credentials are hard to get, especially for volunteer coaches.
"This gives me the access to the venue in Beijing," he said. "I'll be doing double duty this year."
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