Like father, like sons

Van Hees continue the family legacy

Brandon Warr

Times Staff Writer

 

GHS Wrestling — Van Hee.

The name has been associated with wrestling in the Gunnison Valley since 1990. Miles Van Hee — Western State Colorado University’s former coach — started the wrestling legacy and has passed it on to his two sons  — Bryson and Jared, who for the first, and last, time are competing together on Gunnison High School (GHS) wrestling team this season.

Also for the first time this year, Miles is able to watch his sons compete every week, since he no longer heads the program at Western.

“I’ve had opportunities over the years to watch my boys compete in wrestling and other sports, but it has been hit and miss,” said Miles.  “I did miss most of their competition. especially during the collegiate wrestling season while I was on the road. But at times I was able to watch via FaceTime.”

Miles came to Gunnison in 1990 to attend Western, where he wrestled as a Mountaineer until 1993. While at Western, Miles was a two-time All-American and Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference champion and a NCAA Division II West Regional champion.

With such dominance at Western, Miles would unknowingly inspire his oldest son, Bryson, to wrestle.

“I’ve always wanted to be like my dad,” said Bryson. “He inspired me to be dedicated to wrestling and is the reason why I’ve wrestled for as long as I can remember.”

That dedication has paid off for Bryson, who managed to be the top finisher on the GHS team last season. Bryson came close to going to state during the 2016-17 campaign. However, he lost a barn-burner at the end of the season to fall one match short of qualifying for state.

While Bryson may not be a three-time high school state champion like Miles was, that hasn’t stopped him from striving to improve — or enjoying every day of his high school athletic career.

“My high school career has been a lot of fun the last few years,” said the senior athlete. “I’ve made some of the most solid friendships with this wrestling family and plan to make all the hard work worth it.”

Freshman Jared joined the wrestling family this season, and just like Bryson, he was also inspired by a member of the Van Hee family — his older brother.

Before Bryson was a GHS wrestler, he wrestled for the Pee Wee Dusters. It was at Pee Wee Dusters practice where Bryson would unknowingly inspire his brother, who was watching him from a distance.

That is not all Bryson has done for Jared, either. He has also helped Jared by teaching him new moves and pushing him to work harder in practice.

At the Salida tournament recently, Jared put his brother’s teachings to use. The younger wrestler pinned every one of his opponents — except his brother, who he faced in the semi-finals.

While the Van Hees will only wrestle on the same high school team for one season, Jared has taken every opportunity to learn from Bryson.

“It's been great being on the same team,” said Jared. “He pushes me in practice and we both are making each other better.”

This wrestling season isn’t the only time the brothers have competed together. During the fall, Bryson and Jared both were members of the GHS golf team.

“Jared and I have always been encouraged to stay as active as we can and be involved,” said Bryson. “Golf ended up being my second favorite sport after trying many others.”

Still, Jared plans to be slightly more active than his older brother as a GHS athlete. He plans to compete on the baseball diamond this coming spring for the Cowboys.

 

(Brandon Warr can be reached at 970.641.1414 or brandon@gunnisontimes.com.)

 

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