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Matzek eager to return to Ellsworth, lead wrestling program

Usually it’s the other way around.

Usually it’s the high school coach wanting to climb up the ladder to a higher rung, up to the collegiate level.

Not step down from college to high school.

Yet this is what Mark Matzek is doing, leaving his job as head coach of NCAA Division III Augsburg College and all the success he’s had coaching there for the past six seasons and returning to WIAA Division 2 Ellsworth High School and becoming co-coach of its wrestling program.

But stepping down a rung is perfectly acceptable to Matzek if it means returning to his alma mater, where he won two state individual championships in 1999 and 2000 along with being part of a team state title in 2000 as well. It’s acceptable if it means returning to the classroom to teach and acceptable if it means spending more his time with his family in the place where he grew up.

“The biggest factor is the time commitment,” Matzek said in an interview last week. “On the college level, you’re not coming home at 9-10 at night just during the season, it’s almost every night. With a six-month-old daughter to help raise with my wife, I didn’t believe I would be able to provide the time needed to keep Augsburg at the top of Division III. It’s a tough decision because I love Augsburg. But for me, going back to Ellsworth is a better balance of my work and my family life.”

Matzek explained the difficulties recruiting at the Division III level, especially for a private school like Augsburg operating without athletic scholarships.

“You have to cast as wide a net as possible recruiting Division III far greater than you do with Division I and even Division II,” Matzek said. “That requires a lot of work. We were scheduling some 100 visits per year of prospective high school athletes to Augsburg and each of those visits and planning them out was very time consuming.”

For more please read the August 6 print version of the Herald.