Collins Hill’s Ryan Millhof (Photo Illustration by: Nicole Puckett and Brendan Sullivan)
In the tunnel at the Macon Centreplex, Ryan Millhof sat in the corner upset with himself.
His coaches came by to console the Collins Hill wrestler, but nothing seemed to work. Millhof had just won the Class AAAAAA state championship, but you couldn’t tell by his emotions.
“I just wasn’t pleased. A lot of people will say ‘He won state. What is he mad about?’ If I win or lose, it doesn’t matter to me, it’s how I wrestle,” Millhof said. “If I lose and I wrestled great, I’m fine with that. If I win and I wrestle terrible, I’m not fine with that. I won, yes, but I wrestled terrible. I think it was a big eye opener on what I needed to work on.”
That one match was all the motivation Millhof needed going into the offseason. The senior went from being one of the state’s best wrestlers to putting himself in the conversation of one of the all-time greats to wrestle in Georgia.
“I think he’s setting himself up to potentially be the top wrestler to come out of Gwinnett,” Collins Hill coach Josh Stephen said. “Now that’s saying a lot, but it’s the college career that’s going to answer that for him. But in the conversation, I think he has to be considered one of the greatest to come out of the county and the state.”
Millhof certainly has the credentials. He’s a three-time state finalist and two-time state champion. He’s holds a 174-4 career record, including 69-0 last season. He’s only lost one match to a Georgia opponent.
On the national level, Millhof is a three-time NHSCA national champion, the first Georgian to be a two-time Super 32 champ, he’s ranked No. 1 in the nation at 126 pounds and he signed with nationally ranked Oklahoma on Wednesday. If that wasn’t enough, he still has one more year of high school to add to his resume.
“I want to try to improve as much as I can,” Millhof said. “I have to start to separate myself from the competition and start winning by bigger margins and start gearing up and getting ready for college.”
Millhof was a decorated youth wrestler, winning seven kids state championships. He traveled the country competing in major national tournaments. He attended Archer as a freshman and was undefeated until the state finals when he lost to long-time friend Sean Russell of Collins Hill.
“You always think about your loses and you have scars here and there,” Millhof said. “You live and you learn with them. It’s really what you can take from a loss.”
Archer was just a two-year-old school at the time and Collins Hill was in the middle of its five-year state title run. The Eagles traveled the country competing in elite tournaments, while Archer was still building its program from scratch. So Millhof transferred to Collins Hill during the summer.
“I did not feel I was getting myself ready for the full potential I could be at,” Millhof said. “Moving over to Collins Hill and wrestling the best guys in the country definitely got me ready.”
Millhof won his first state title as a sophomore, helping the Eagles claim the Class AAAAAA traditional state title. He became a two-time state champ last season as the Eagles were runner-up to Millhof’s former school Archer.
With so much already accomplished, what does that leave for Millhof to do this season? His coach thinks there’s plenty.
“I think the big thing for him is competition,” Stephen said. “Winning another title out in Kansas City and then Powerade. That will be another real big one.
“He’ll hit some really high level kids for him. That will be the big one for him other than winning another state title.”
Millhof earned the No. 1 national ranking at an inaugural tournament earlier this month. Flowrestling hosted a Who’s No. 1? tournament, which put the nation’s top two wrestlers in each weight class against each other.
Millhof scored a win over previously No. 1 ranked Jared Cortez, an Illinois signee, in the tournament at the famed Snake Pit at Lehigh University to take the top spot.
“It’s been a once in a lifetime experience being able to travel the country and accomplish some of the goals I’ve had since I was a little kid,” Millhof said. “It’s definitely a dream I think everyone has when they start out as a little kid. You want to be the best. It’s definelty a blessed feeling.”
Millhof signed with Oklahoma, which began the season ranked No. 5 in the nation. He’s one of a handful of Georgia wrestlers to ever sign with a highly ranked college program. It’s in Oklahoma where Millhof can start achieving some of his other goals.
“I guess I’m a big dreamer. To some other people my dreams might look unrealistic, but I wanted to be a state champ, then I wanted to be a national champ, then I wanted to be ranked No. 1 in the country,” Millhof said. “Yes, I’ve accomplished those, but next I want to be a college national champ, a world champion and then hopefully move on and be an Olympic champion. I’m really looking long-term. I want to be the greatest that ever did it.”