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Nitchals’ first year off to strange start

Estherville native takes reins of boys’ track program

April 6, 2020
By David Swartz - Managing Editor , Estherville News

For the first year as head coach of the Estherville Lincoln Central Boys Track Team, hometown native Jesse Nitchals is facing a unique challenge.

With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing the shutdown of schools for four weeks throughout Iowa, the move also affected athletics with spring sports put on hold.

Track practices actually began in February, to teams had the opportunity for a month of practice before the March 16 shutdown.

Nitchals takes over this season for long-time coach Dick Barrett, who retired as head coach in 2019. However, Barrett agreed to stay on as a volunteer coach this season, so Nitchals will have the benefit of his advice.

During this shutdown, Nitchals said track coaches aren't allowed to have workouts with the athletes.

"We saw this coming the week before, so we suggested what they could do," Nitchals said. "I can't give the kids workouts, but if they ask me, I can make suggestions."

Numbers are good for the ELC boys track team this season with 38 reporting including nine seniors.

"They're all good leaders with experience," said Nitchals. "I'm looking forward to seeing what they can do."

With all Iowa schools shutting down sports during this time, Nitchals notes that at least all teams will "be in the same boat." Success will depend on how well athletes worked out on their own during this time.

This is Nitchals' first experience as head coach of boys track. He spent two years as head coach of the girls track team at Forest Ridge in Gruver. He came from Strom Lake where he coached junior high track.

This is his eighth year of coaching.

Looking across the way at the ELC Girls Track Team, Nitchals' brother JR (David) is at the helm.

"My dad said he never would've thought both his boys would both coach track," Nitchals said. "We have a comfortable relations and communicate daily."

During Nitchals' time in high school, he ran track for coach Barrett, as well as long-time assistant coach Jerry Shultz, who remains on staff.

Nitchals competed in sprint and mid-distance races as well as the long jump, which he said was his favorite. He spent last season as ELC's jumping coach (long and high).

 
 
 

 

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