Duke Burk has competed for wrestling legends like Cael Sanderson and Kevin Jackson. He’s trained with world-class athletes and Olympians.
Now the 24-year-old is Lewis Central’s new head wrestling coach.
Burk, an Iowa State graduate, was hired as the Titans’ head man late last week. It was the culmination of a coaching search that began when former coach Trevor Carritt stepped down in early June. Burk served as an assistant beginning in late December after completing his teaching degree in Ames.
“I’ve always wanted to be a head coach,” Burk said from his hometown of Peoria, Ill., on Tuesday. “The opportunity came sooner than I thought it would, but I hopped on it right away and it just turned out.”
Despite his age, Burk has seemingly spent his entire life near a mat. His father, Kevin, is more than 30 years into his tenure as a high school wrestling coach in Peoria, and his brother, Danny, is an assistant there. With plenty of guidance growing up, Duke Burk left Peoria Notre Dame High School with a prep record of 160-10 highlighted by a third-place finish at state as a senior.
Burk spent two years wrestling at Northern Illinois and transferred to Iowa State for his final two seasons. He finished with a career record of 89-40 – mostly at 174 pounds – and qualified for the NCAA Championships four times, most recently in 2010.
Lewis Central activities director Mike Hale said Burk met all his expectations after interviewing a handful of candidates.
Said Hale: “He’s one of those diamonds in the rough.”
Burk wound up in Council Bluffs initially to be with his girlfriend, who is from the area. He sent out emails to area wrestling coaches inquiring about open positions last winter. Carritt responded.
After the whirlwind summer, Burk inherits a decorated prep program that finished with a 25-10 dual record last season. The Titans won every individual tournament in the regular season – including a Hawkeye Ten Conference title – and a district crown as well.
“I’m not looking to change too much,” Burk said. “Maybe the training a little bit. But we’ll keep things pretty much the same and see if we can’t keep building on what’s been built here the last 15 years or so.”