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Black Tornado tabs SOU product

McNulty set to guide North wrestlers

Another product of the Southern Oregon University wrestling program is ready to test his head coaching skills, and the hopes are high at North Medford High that Kacey McNulty's results will be in line with his predecessors.

McNulty, a three-time All-American while at SOU, takes over a resurgent Black Tornado program trying to keep pace with top Southern Oregon Conference programs.

Keeping that company won't be foreign for McNulty, who joins former Raider standouts Greg Haga (Crater), Tim Satre (Grants Pass) and Ken Wharry (South Medford) as head coaches in the SOC.

You?re talking about some great individuals down here coaching in Greg Haga, Tim Satre, Ken Wharry and Brad McBee (of Eagle Point), says McNulty. It's going to be an experience coaching against guys like that. I'm definitely in good company.

McNulty, 29, becomes North Medford's third wrestling coach in three years. Mike Schaan replaced Ken Thompson prior to the 1999-2000 campaign, who found he was spreading his time too thin by adding the wrestling position to assistant coaching responsibilities in football and track.

We think that we've made a move that is going to provide some stability to our wrestling program, says North Medford athletic director Mike Kay. Mike Schaan did a tremendous job last year, but coaching three sports is a lot to ask of anyone. We hate to lose Mike as a wrestling coach, but we're happy we get to keep him in two other sports where they've done well.

Kay says Schaan asked to be relieved of the role as wrestling coach following the season, and recommended McNulty for the position. McNulty will also teach science at the high school.

Kacey comes highly respected in the wrestling community, says Kay. His personality will be a great blend with our staff and our kids.

McNulty had been an assistant coach at Glencoe High in Hillsboro for the past four years and prior to that was an assistant for one year at Grants Pass High and SOU.

It's that experience that has McNulty optimistic about his first-ever role as head coach.

I've had the opportunity to run wrestling rooms before and I've had lots of duties as an assistant coach over the years, he says. I've kind of been groomed to be a head coach. I've worked with some good head coaches and people who have taught me a lot.

McNulty already had an impressive wrestling background prior to his coaching roles. He was the NAIA runner-up at 142 pounds in helping SOU to a tie for the national championship in coach Bob Riehm's last season at SOU (1993-94).

McNulty also placed fifth (1992-93) and eighth (1991-92) nationally as a Raider, was twice named most inspirational on the SOU squad and was co-captain with Dan Potts his senior year.

Even with that list of accomplishments, McNulty says his chances for success at North will rely on how quickly the athletes buy into his philosophy of wrestling.

I hope I don't have to pull out credentials, says McNulty. Hopefully they?ll just trust me. I've wrestled longer than any of these high schoolers have been alive, so hopefully they?ll trust I know what I'm doing.

McNulty admits that trust will have to be earned, as his performance stands to be evaluated each day along with his athletes.

It's going to be a difficult transition for some kids, he says. That trust issue is going to be difficult with their third coach in three years. They're going to wonder, ?How long is this guy going to stick around.? Hopefully, I can get them to buy into my philosophy and trust me that I know what I'm doing and I plan on being around for a while.

McNulty cautions that his intention isn't to wave some magic wand and have North Medford dethrone three-time defending state champion Crater this coming season. His goals, as well as those put forth by Kay, are more realistic and deal with the future of the Tornado program.

Sports are a big thing here in the Rogue Valley and I plan on having a successful team, says McNulty. It's going to be something that we have to build on because we're in the toughest league in the state. It's hard to be competitive right away when you?re league has some of the best teams in the state.

For anyone who is competitive, their goal is to be the best. Hopefully we?ll get there someday, but I'd just like to see some improvement each year.