University of Dubuque represented at the World Championships
Friday 10/4/2019 9:25 AM
Gregory South Dakota rests in Gregory County, a county along the windswept Great Plains border with Nebraska. Hardy country and the people who reside there.
Nate Hansen, assistant wrestling coach at the University of Dubuque, toiled on the Gregory High School wrestling mats. Soon, he'll be wrestling on one of the world's biggest stages: The 2019 United World Wrestling Veterans (Masters) Freestyle and Greco-Roman World Championships, Oct. 8-13, in Tbilisi, Georgia. UD Head Wrestling Coach Jon McGovern leads the USA wrestling team in his second year coaching at the World Championships.
Hansen grew up in a wrestling family. His father John has coached the Gregory Gorillas High School team for more than 40 years, including Nate's siblings. Winning three South Dakota state wresting titles, Nate went on to Luther College (Decorah, Iowa) where he was a two-time All American and won a national NCAA Div. III championship (125 pounds) in 2007.
"It was a great experience," he said of his time in Decorah.
Hansen, 35, went on to coach at NCAA Div. I South Dakota State (Brookings) for five years as an assistant before taking the head coaching job at Simpson College (Indianola, Iowa). This summer year he accepted an offer to join McGovern at UD. Hansen was well-acquainted with McGovern, having on a McGovern-directed club team featuring many UD Wrestling alumni including former UD NCAA Champion Josh Terrell. Wrestling in the Masters level, Hansen won a national title at 62 kilograms (136.6 pounds) in 2018.
"That was awesome," Hansen said. "It was really good experience."
McGovern's recruiting pitch for UD resonated well.
"He's passionate and highly experienced in the sport of wrestling and motivates me," Hansen said. "He sparked the fire in me to compete again. Since I've been here working with him has been awesome!"
With McGovern, Hansen has had the opportunity to train with University of Wisconsin Head Wrestling Coach Chris Bono, a three-time All-American at Iowa State, in Madison. He works out with collegiate wrestlers. Adding to the training is work outs with Pat Bauer, a UD alum.
"It's really cool to have that support," Hansen said.
That includes the social media circuit and the overall wrestling community, a tight-knit family. It has him to also reconnect with coaches and foes he's wrestled with. With both mental and physical preparation on track, Hansen plans to "take Gold" in October.
"The training has helped me connect with people and make me a better coach and give back to the UD wrestlers," he said. The sport of wrestling, he adds, bridges politics and cultures. "It can bring people together," Hansen added, recalling a 2017 trip to Russia where he enmeshed himself with fellow athletes - sharing meals, training and card playing. "It was an awesome experience," he said.
Hansen is looking forward to the World Championships. "There's no better sport that prepares you for life," he said. "You make a lot friends, outstanding people in the wrestling community." That includes McGovern and others. In April 2018, McGovern, a Former USA National Team Member and World Champion Dennis Hall started a USA Wrestling club that included several national champions including UD NCAA Champion Josh Terrell and Hansen. In addition UD Wrestling Alumni Pat Bauer (Current Bellevue Wrestling Coach), Ryan Lessner (Illinois Wrestling Coach, Chris Barajas (FL HS Wrestling Coach), Chad Cook (Texas Wrestling Coach), Michael Butterfield (Arizona Wrestling Coach), and Ben Schneider (Arizona Wrestling Coach) all competed at the USA Nationals for a UD Wrestling Spartan Alumni tradition. Hansen and Terrell both won the USA Masters Nationals. While Terrell declined, Hansen accepted the opportunity to compete for USA Wrestling at this year's World Championships.
McGovern accepted the opportunity to coach USA Freestyle Masters team again after helping coach the USA Wrestling Masters Team to a 5th place finish in Skopje Macedonia in Oct 2018.
“There are former Olympic Medalists competing here and the level of competition at the world stage is good for our UD program to stay engaged with some of the best wrestling master competitors in the USA and in the world.” Coach McGovern said. “The opportunities to work with the USA Wrestling Team have opened up many top recruits looking to come to UD as well as having UD being a premier consideration for top coaches in the USA to send their wrestlers.” he said. The University of Dubuque and USA Wrestling will be well represented this year at the World Championships.