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Durbahn Takes Over Albert Lea Wrestling Program

Durbahn Takes Over Albert Lea Wrestling Program Photo: MGN Online.

November 13, 2017 10:16 PM

(ABC 6 News) – Following the retirement of legendary coach Larry Goodnature, Albert Lea high school has their next head wrestling coach.

The school officially hired Paul Durbahn as the school’s next head wrestling coach in early November. The school hired Durbahn following their contract offer removal of Andy Hackenmueller.

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“It’s pretty exciting,” Durbahn said. “It feels good. We have a lot of guys working hard, it’s an exciting time for Albert Lea wrestling.”

Durbahn is no stranger to the Albert Lea wrestling program—he’s been involved with the program for the past six years. Durbahn started as a volunteer assistant coach before taking over Albert Lea’s youth wrestling program in addition to assisting the junior high and high school programs.

“It’s fun to see all these kids I’ve worked with at the younger levels move up,” Durbahn said. “With every sport, the technical parts change, but in the end, it’s pretty similar.”

Durbahn was a wrestler himself in high school—he was a star wrestler at Mankato West high school before wrestling at the collegiate level at South Dakota State University.

Durbahn also comes from a family of coaches, as his father, Bill, was a coach at Mankato West for 30 years—so naturally, Paul has the coaching persona and mentality.

“We’re making sure the kids stay focused on their grades and behavior and be good role models,” Durbahn said. “We want to make sure we’re getting our seniors on board in the classroom and weight room. The high school season can be grueling, so we need to keep the kids focused on the task at hand.”

Goodnature, who led his teams to 519 wins on the wrestling mats over 28 years, is staying put in Albert Lea and plans to serve as a volunteer coach on Durbahn’s staff.

“(Larry has) helped me with the preseason stuff and transitioning into the new role,” Durbahn said. “We’ve got one of the best coaching staffs in the state. His presence will still be here. It’s an exciting time.”

Besides having a new head wrestling coach, the Tigers’ program faces a challenge on the mats this season, as they transition from Class AA to Class AAA this winter.

“Being in the Big 9 Conference, we wrestle a Class AAA schedule,” Durbahn said. “I would’ve liked to have seen us go after (2-time Class AA state champion) Kasson-Mantorville, but where we’re at, Class AAA is a good fit. It’ll be a good transition, it fits us well.”

The Tigers, who are ranked 8th in the Minnesota Guillotine preseason rankings, have more than ten seniors returning this season—the list of key returners includes2016 individual 152-pound state finalist Zach Glazier, two-time third-place individual state finisher Brody Nielsen, and fellow state participants Nic Cantu, Jake Johnsrud, and Gavin Ignaszewski.

“We have lots of depth,” Durbahn said. “Now and years down the road, we’ll be just fine.”

The Tigers will open the season in a tournament at Hasting high school on Dec. 2.


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