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From Alaska to Nebraska, UNK junior Isaac Deaton has found a path to wrestling success. “On Isaac’s best day we know Isaac is capable of beating the national champ, and potentially being a national champ himself.” Deaton no stranger to hard work By RYAN EDWARDS Hub Sports Writer KEARNEY — University of Nebraska at Kearney wrestler Isaac Deaton was in high school when he started looking for places to wrestle at the collegiate level. When he Googled “good D2 wrestling team” places to go to wrestle, the Valdez, Alaska, native stumbled upon UNK. “I knew I wanted to wrestle in college, but didn’t know where,” Deaton said. “I filled out the recruiting questionnaire online and sent an email to (then-coach Marc Bauer) with a highlight video.” After Deaton found UNK he realized someone he knew had wrestled for the Lopers in the past. The former wrestler pointed Deaton in the direction of one of Bauer’s assistant coaches, Tom McCann. From there, McCann helped Deaton get an official visit to UNK and the rest is history. Every summer after the school year Deaton would return home to Alaska to work on salmon fishing boats. This summer, however, he has stayed in Kearney, where he land- ed a construction job on campus as part of his construction man- agement course work. “It was hard being away from home for my first semester of college,” he said. “But after that it was no big deal.” When Deaton walked onto cam- pus, Loper wrestling coach Dalton Jensen could see plenty of potential. “He was pretty raw coming in,” Jensen said. “He definitely wasn’t a high-end recruit coming in by any means. He’s a hard-nose worker ... I think he won three state titles in Alaska, but Alaska is not a big wrestling state. That was a big adjustment period for him moving from the high school level to the college level,” Jensen said. During Deaton’s first year, he competed in the 165-pound weight class, where he rolled up a 22-14 record. A year later Deaton wrestled in the 174- and 184-pound weight classes, where he racked up 12 wins. This past season, Deaton made some strides. He tied his career high in wins with 22 and even defeated the eventual national champion in his weight class — Noel Torres of Newman University. “On Isaac’s best day we know Isaac is capable of beating the national champ, and potentially being a national champ himself,” Jensen said. “It’s just a matter of getting us and him work- ing together and getting him to perform like that each and every match at the end of the year.” Deaton knows he has a lot of room to grow this season, and he understands the key to meeting his goals. “I need to get healthy and stay healthy,” he said. “This last year I battled a couple injuries, one of them I’m still struggling with but has been getting better with rehab. “My goal is to gain full mobility and strength again by the start of the season. The biggest area I’ve improved is my attitude and mind- set. I believe that I’ve always had the skill set; I’ve just always strug- gled mentally,” Deaton said. ryan.edwards@kearneyhub.com @ByRyanEdwards Kearney Hub Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018 THE SECOND OF 4 FEATURE SECTIONS HIGHLIGHTING THEUNIVERSITYOFNEBRASKAATKEARNEY LOPER LINEUP inside Mestl doesn’t let hearing loss affect her success on the golf course. page 8 UNK 2018 HUB UNK Today By DAN ZIELINSKI Hub Sports Writer KEARNEY —Marc Bauer spent 17 years build- ing the University of Nebras- ka at Kearney wrestling into one of the premier programs in Division II. Under Bauer’s guidance, 90 UNK wres- tlers earned All-American honors, including 22 national champions and 15 national runner-up finishes. Bauer stepped down as wrestling coach in 2016. He’s now trying to affect UNK athletics in a new role, serving as the department’s interim athletic director following the departure of Paul Plinske. Serving in his new posi- tion since May 20, Bauer sat down with UNK beat writer Dan Zielinski on June 27 to discuss the state of the ath- letic program and his goals as the interim AD. Q: How has the adjust- ment been in your new role as the interim athletic director? MB: There’s been a little bit of an adjustment. I think with anything there’s always a learning curve. The great part with me stepping into this position is that we already have a senior staff in place who already knows what’s going on here. I’m learning. I’m learning a lot. It’s been a challenge, obvi- ously. I went from coaching to teaching to back here to administration. The change has been good just because there’s people who know what they’re doing around here. They’re showing me the ropes. Q: Was it always your goal to become an A.D.? MB: That’s a really good question, actually. In 2013 when we won our last national championship, I was kind of ready to be done then from coaching. I’m very goal-ori- ented. I just didn’t feel like I had a whole lot of goals. Something just happened at nationals that year. We were at nationals, and I was standing there before the finals. I have this technique where I show confidence in my guys by standing near them. It’s kind of a presence thing. I’m standing there and the assistant coach at St. Cloud State, who was a younger guy, comes over to me and he goes, “Man, you just don’t seem nervous at all.” I go, “I’m not.” It hit me because I never thought about that. I used to get nervous for my guys, and I didn’t feel that anymore. At that point, I was thinking about getting out. Some things changed, we got a full-time assistant coach, and I decided I was going to keep doing it. While I was the head wrestling coach for 15 years, I was also a part-time teacher at Windy Hills Elementary. I juggled two jobs at the same time. When I got an assistant coach, I resigned from teaching because I had more of a supervising role. I was thinking at the time that the young man, who’s now the head coach here, that this was a great time for me to prep somebody to take over for me. That change didn’t happen until 2016. It happened late July. I was accepted into a doctoral pro- gram at Creighton Univer- sity, and I already had been preparing Dalton Jensen for the fact that I was going to do my doctorate and for him to take more of a leader- ship role. Long story short, August rolls around and the kinesiology sports science program called me and they were short somebody. I felt like it was a good time for some change. I knew that if I would ever have the oppor- tunity to move into adminis- tration that I had to separate myself from coaching. This was an opportunity to do that. I love to teach, and I was teaching future physical education teachers on the other side of the building. When I made that tran- sition, Dr. Nita Unruh and the staff on the academic side were super supportive and no different from what I feel like coming back over here. People were there to show me the ropes and get down the right direction as I was working on my doctorate. So I feel like get- ting away from the athletic side of things helped open the door for me a bit just because although I was a coach and have the coach’s perspective, that’s only one perspective. When it comes to coaching development, that’s something I feel like I can add to the department. But on the other side of things, I’m learning the administration side. When you’re a coach, there’s certain paperwork that has to get done and you get it in at the deadline. But now I have to understand where that paperwork goes beyond submitting it into the office. The infrastructure from within the department has been really helpful because there’s a lot of things I don’t know, and I’m still learning. Q: When you found out Paul Plinske was leav- ing, was the first thought that crossed your mind about potentially being the next A.D. at UNK? MB: Obviously for a lot of people, this was unexpected. We didn’t see this happening. The wrestling team had a big tournament going on at the fairgrounds and when the news broke that Paul was leaving, I started getting texts immediately from alumni and people in the community saying, “Hey, have you thought about applying?” For three or four days I was overwhelmed by the texts, phone calls and people going up to my wife, who’s a pharmacist at Hy-Vee, saying things to her asking if I was inter- ested. It wasn’t something that I had truly thought about. Through all those texts, phone calls and from talking to people, I started just reflecting about what I could add to what’s going on with the situation. It was a tough situation with sports being eliminated and Paul leaving. Change is not easy and most times it can be messy. That’s when I started thinking about this. I felt like with the waters being a little rough right now and with me knowing a lot of people in the depart- ment, that I could come out and help a little bit. It was not a thought that crossed my mind right away, but as people called me and approached me it became apparent that this was some- thing that would be a great challenge. I felt like I could be a pres- ence with the transition. The other part of this that I don’t think a lot of people thought about was that I was teaching on the other side of the build- ing. They are short-staffed, and they didn’t want to lose anybody. But Dr. Unruh was phenomenal through this entire process. I called her and told her, “I’ll be very upfront with what’s going on and that I have a meeting set up with the chancellor and that I don’t know what’s going to happen.” On the academic side, I had a lot of people come in and say that I’d be perfect for this job Marc Bauer Bauer takes on athletic director role Ryan Edwards, Kearney Hub Known as a hard worker in the wrestling room, Deaton found work on a Kearney construction crew this summer. Kearney Hub file Deaton matched his career high with 22 wins in 2017-18. One of his wins was against national champion Noel Torres of Newman University. Alaska native keeps busy with wrestling, new campus construction job BAUER , page 2 Kearney Hub file DALTON JENSEN, LOPER WRESTLING COACH