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Lack of outdoor track and field facility at Northern Michigan is no problem for head coaching finalist Kirk Nauman

September 5, 2012
By MATT WELLENS - Journal Sports Editor ( , The Mining Journal

MARQUETTE - Kirk Nauman grew up not too far from the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field in the village of Howard, Wis., just outside Green Bay.

He picked up a bachelor's degree at the University of Wisconsin-Superior and a master's at Minnesota State University in Mankato, where he also was a graduate assistant coach.

From 2003-07, he was the men's and women's head track and field coach at Saint Mary's University of Minnesota in Winona and since 2007, has been the lead man of both programs at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minn.

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What has he learned living in the Great White North all these years?

Outdoor track and field facilities aren't all they're cracked up to be.

"Would an outdoor facility be nice? Yeah, but the reality is when you are in northern Michigan, pretty much anywhere in the northern half of Wisconsin or the northern half of Minnesota, they are more ascetically pleasing than they are functional," Nauman said.

"If it's 45 degrees and cool, who wants to be outside anyway?"

Nauman has brought opposing teams inside Northern Michigan University's Superior Dome before, but now the four-time women's outdoor and three-time women's indoor Upper Midwest Athletic Conference track and field coach of the year hopes to be the man leading the Wildcats training day in and day out as the program's next head coach.

Nauman visited Marquette on Tuesday as the first of three finalists for the opening following the retirement of longtime head coach Tom Barnes.

David Thompson of the State University of New York at Oswego (SUNY Oswego) visits Marquette on Thursday and University of Miami assistant Cheree Hicks interviews on Sept. 13.

Nauman said the Superior Dome is an ideal venue not only to host meets, but also for training, though he would like to see more space outdoors for throwers - shot, discus, hammer throw and javelin.

What's even more appealing of a tool, however, is not the dome, but Northern's 180 academic programs compared to St. Scholastica's. It will allow him to go after a much wider group of athletes than he can now at the small Catholic college.

The chance to offer scholarships will also boost his recruiting effort in his home base of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and the Chicago-land area, he said.

"Working on a scholarship level will be a little different, working that angle. It would be more difficult, but easier at the same time," Nauman said.

"In our world of track and field, I think there are good athletes at D1 through D3. There would be a little bit of change, a little bit of a difference, but I've worked with very successful athletes at different levels."

Nauman currently works with the sprinters and middle-distance runners at St. Scholastica, as well as with the hurdlers and horizontal jumpers - high jump and triple jump.

NMU head cross country coach and assistant track and field coach Jenny Ryan, who is currently serving as the interim head track coach, specializes in the distances while assistant Kevin Kean handles the sprinters, hurdlers, jumpers and relay teams.

Matt Wellens can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252.



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