By Terry Vandrovec, The Forum
Published Thursday, August 26, 2004
Of course, Clay Nagel wrestled with the decision.
But, ultimately, the bear of a man chose to follow the tiny voice inside his head.
Nagel resigned as wrestling coach at Frazee High School after 17 seasons, leaving behind three Minnesota state championships, 13 section titles and one of the preeminent prep programs in the region to become co-head coach at Concordia College.
"When you've been in a place 17 years, you've become a part of the community and the kids," said Nagel, 47, who will teach one more year in Frazee. "It's a lot of close ties, but I think it's time for a change for me. I just couldn't let this slip by."
Neither could Concordia, an NCAA Division III school that hasn't won a conference title since 1964. Doug Perry is in his final season as Cobbers head coach and an instructor in the Physical Education and Health Department, and Nagel will be looked at "strongly," according to athletic director Larry Papenfuss, to fill both positions beginning in 2005-06.
"What a tremendous boon to the wrestling program at Concordia to get someone of Clay's credentials," Papenfuss said.
As for replacing someone of those credentials? Assistants Marty Aho and Dennis Schermerhorn are expected to coach the Hornets this season. Not that this was the first time Nagel considered leaving Frazee to join the college ranks. In 2003, he applied to replace longtime Minnesota State University Moorhead coach John Sterner only to withdraw in light of a statewide hiring freeze.
So when Concordia presented the opportunity to coach and, possibly, teach future coaches, he couldn't say no.
"I wish I'd have know about this earlier," said Nagel, who produced at least one individual state champion in each of the past eight seasons. "I could have recruited some of my own athletes."
Forum reporter Heath Hotzler contributed to this story. Readers can reach Forum reporter Terry Vandrovec at (701) 241-5548