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Eric Peterson, Published July 24 2009

MSUM hires Nelson as head wrestling coach

Kris Nelson has been named head wrestling coach at Minnesota State Moorhead, athletic director Doug Peters announced Thursday.

Nelson becomes the ninth wrestling coach in the program’s 50-year history. He takes over for Keenan Spiess, who recently resigned after six seasons to pursue other interests.

“I’m very thankful for the opportunity in the first place, to be a head coach and to lead the program,” Nelson said. “I’m going to do my best to continue to move it in the right direction. I think they have been doing a good job. I know it’s going to take a lot of work.”

Nelson has been an assistant coach at North Dakota State the past nine seasons under coaching legend Bucky Maughan, an MSUM grad who was inducted into the Division II Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1997.

Maughan is also in the Dragon Hall of Fame.

From Lisbon, N.D., Nelson also wrestled for Maughan at NDSU from 1995-2000, while the program was in Division II. NDSU has since moved to Division I.

“He wrestled and he coached for a national hall of fame coach and he saw a high level of success at the Division II level and he’s seen a lot of things at the Division I level,” Peters said. “Obviously, he has recruited in the region so he has a good idea of the talent that’s available and he already has a lot of connections.”

Nelson was a three-time Division II All-American for the Bison, winning a national championship at 133 pounds in 2000. That season he was named most outstanding wrestler in Division II.

“It’s kind of nice getting back to my roots,” Nelson said. “I was a Division II wrestler myself. I’m kind of looking forward to that. … I have a lot of respect for Division II. I’m just excited to make that return.”

Nelson is taking over a program that has won nine of the last 14 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference championships.

Nelson said he has yet to address the entire MSUM team and he has yet to name his assistants.

“When this opportunity presented itself to me I just felt like it was the next step that I need to take in my career,” Nelson said. “I was unable to turn that down.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blogs can be found at www.areavoices.com