By Adam Pack
A career packed with success, prestige, and determination will be recognized Sunday, Oct. 31, as former Greenbrier East wrestling coach Brian Miluk is set to receive the Lifetime Service to Wrestling Award from the West Virginia chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in a ceremony held at the Embassy Suites.
Miluk shares much with the legendary Midas, as it seems every mat he’s touched has turned to gold. A four-time qualifier for the NCAA Tournament at Ashland College of Ohio, Miluk switched from the center of the mat to the side, but carried with him the same dedication to excellence. The annals of St. Edward’s High School and Padua Franciscan High School are etched with the name “Miluk,” both having elected the grappler to their halls of fame.
Miluk arrived in Greenbrier County in 2004 as the assistant coach at Greenbrier East. After a short stint as the Head Coach at the middle school, Miluk spent ten years, 2010-2020, as the head coach at the high school. In his time at the high school level, Miluk brought back-to-back regional titles to GEHS and worked tirelessly to support the sport of wrestling at every level in the area. His regular columns in this the Mountain Messenger did the crucial work of keeping his wrestlers and their accomplishments in the public eye, and always beamed with the pride of a coach who was certainly all in. Miluk received the 2017 WV Wrestling Coaches Association Coach of the Year award, and was honored with the same award by the National Federation of Wrestling Coaches in 2019.
When asked if he’d like to give any accolades or pass out any thanks, Miluk stated, “Of course there are multiple people that deserve so much thanks, but special thanks goes to Mr. Jeff Bryant for hiring me, and to Major Darrel Pickenbaugh for letting me coach under him for a time.” Miluk was quick to point out that his career was a team effort, citing that he was “fortunate to work with so many amazing assistant coaches and staff,” and that he “surrounded [himself] with such great people.”
All together, Miluk and the aforementioned staff brought great things to Greenbrier County wrestling. Not only did his appointment bring on-the-mat results, but, in collaboration with the community, a wrestling facility that was in his words “the envy of the east coast for it’s kind of facility.” Miluk made it a point to let his wrestlers know that here in Greenbrier County, his men were “surrounded by greatness.”
GEHS’s wrestling division will continue to benefit wrestling for youth in the region, but still yet another hallmark of Miluk’s career will carry his legacy forward for future generations – the West Virginia State High School Duals Wrestling Tournament.
Hosted at The Greenbrier for the first time in 2020, COVID restrictions and all, a West Virginia Statewide dual meet (a meet in which there are no individual places awarded, but rather teams compete) had been discussed for years, and other states have had such meets for some time. Miluk thought it was time for West Virginia’s grapplers to have one and took the initiative to see it done.
Miluk spoke very highly of the event, saying it was such a “fun, classy, well run meet by all the dozens of people involved and The Greenbrier, and it really is an awesome experience for all the boys involved. Some of them may not come back here for 45 years, but they can always say ‘yeah, I wrestled there; I was there.’”
Miluk pointed out that dual meets are always fan favorites because they involve a much higher sense of team spirit and school pride compared to individual meets, mimicking something more like a football game. With the popularity of similar regional meets like Raleigh County’s “County Quad,” featuring bitter school rivalries and raucous sidelines and bleachers akin to NCAA basketball games, a statewide meet was a perfect fit for West Virginia wrestling, and we have Brian Miluk to thank for it.
In a sport with perhaps the loudest coaching style of them all, Miluk’s voice and passion stretched far wider than the four walls of the school gyms and arenas where he directed his boys in green and yellow. Most telling of all, however, was what the coach said when asked what he had to say about his wrestlers in particular.
“I had so many stand out guys, it wouldn’t be doing them justice to pick out even three or four, because there were just so many. But the main thing I want to mention is that every one of my guys applied to and was accepted to a college or university. I’m really proud of that, and proud of them.”
Miluk retired from coaching in 2019, and still lives in Lewisburg with his wife.