NORMAN, Okla. -- The University of Oklahoma wrestling family is mourning the passing of Virgil Milliron, who had a strong connection to the program as a coach at various high schools around the state.

Milliron, 81, passed away on Thursday, April 17, in Oklahoma City. A number of Milliron’s high school wrestlers moved on to compete for the Sooners during their collegiate careers.

Milliron, a graduate of Central Oklahoma, started wrestling at an early age, but his career at Perry High School in Perry, Okla., was cut short by knee injuries. He then served at the helm of the school’s junior high program and coached some future OU greats early in their careers, including Danny Hodge, Gordon Roesler and Rex Edgar.

While in college, Milliron served as the assistant coach for Edmond’s junior high and high school programs, where he coached OU’s Sid Terry, a runner-up finisher at NCAAs.

Milliron’s first head coaching job at the high school level was at John Marshall in Oklahoma City. There, some of his wrestlers who became Sooners included Wayne Baughman, Russ and Mike McAdams, Dicky Haxel, Wayne Wells, Brian Rice, John Eagleston and Tony Howard, among others.

Baughman and Wells went on to win individual NCAA Championships and combined to represent the United States in five Olympic Games and 10 World Championships.

Milliron also coached at U.S. Grant High School, Midwest City High School, Oscar Rose Junior College and Auburn University, where his team won an SEC Championship. Not only did he produce successful wrestlers on the mat but Milliron also was insistent that they be good citizens as well as representatives of their family, sport, team, school and themselves.