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Storhaug, Nelsen leave big shoes to fill

The Alexandria school district is faced with the challenge of replacing two coaches who leave behind some pretty big shoes to fill this year.

The Cardinals lost two guys with more than 60 years of head coaching experience between them when Mark Nelsen and Mark Storhaug decided to retire during this school year. Nelsen coached the boys’ and girls’ cross country teams to a combined 45 state meets since 1980, while Storhaug finished with a total of 434 wins between the boys’ and girls’ swimming and diving teams since taking over in 1984.

“Any time you get a career coach that’s been at it 30-plus years, it’s difficult to fill in,” Cardinals Activities Director Dr. David Hartmann said last Friday. “Both have had tremendous success. They know what they’re doing and know how to create training programs to help kids reach their potential.”

Now the challenge for District 206 is finding the coaches to replace them. Hartmann said there is already a coach within the cross country program who has expressed interest in the head job. As of last week, no in-house candidates had contacted him to express their interest in taking over the swim teams.

He said that could change, but Hartmann expects there to be interest from others outside the area for both the swimming and cross country jobs.

“These are both quality programs,” Hartmann said. “Particularly in swimming we have great facilities, so hopefully we can attract some people who are good, quality teachers, good people who know how to teach life skills, and the kind of people we want working with our kids.”

Hartmann said he hopes to have an idea of who might be the candidates to lead these programs by later this spring.

“I think we were hoping to have a good picture of what teaching openings we have in the next month or two,” he said. “I assume that they will try to do most of the hiring in May if possible. If we can get the teaching positions all hired, then we will know who are potential candidates for the coaching positions, and we will try to conduct those interviews, as well.”

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

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