Matt Nagel NDSU Bison wrestling assistant coach

Matt Nagel: Jumping Across the River

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Interview with first-year assistant coach Matt Nagel

Previous School: Concordia-Moorhead


Matt Nagel has been a popular name in the wrestling world around the Fargo-Moorhead area for nearly a decade. He took his first coaching job as an assistant at Concordia, where his dad Clay Nagel was the head coach. Nagel had an accolade riddled wrestling career at the University of Minnesota. Nagel, a Frazee, Minn. native, was an All-American for the Gophers in 2005. He finished his career with 100 wins at 165 pounds.

Nagel was named the Cobbers’ head coach in 2014 and was twice named the NCAA West Region Coach of the Year. He helped 22 Concordia wrestlers earn a spot at the NCAA National Meet. Nagel kept the Cobbers in the Top 10 all three years as a head coach.

After the departure of assistant coach Manny Rivera to Cal State-Bakersfield, NDSU and Nagel’s former Gopher teammate Roger Kish hired him onto the Bison staff. His focus will be the middleweights, coaching the 149, 157 165, 174-pound wrestlers.

Matt Nagel NDSU Bison wrestling assistant coach
(Photo by Joe Kerlin) Coaching Timeline - Assistant, Concordia (Minnesota) (2009-14); Head coach, Concordia (2014-16); Assistant, NDSU (Present)


Bison Illustrated: How far back does your relationship with head coach Roger Kish go?
Matt Nagel: When he was a freshman and sophomore (at the University of Minnesota), I was a junior and senior, team captain and stuff. I was an upperclassman in his recruiting process, so we got to know each other well there, and then wrestling on the varsity team for two years, while he was a 184-pounder and I was a 165-pounder. We went on all the trips and stuff together so we got to know each other well there. I did some coaching and stuck around after my senior year as well so then, when he moved up here, it was the same year that I moved up here to coach at Concordia and he came over to NDSU. We’ve known each other for awhile.

BI: How did you end up getting the assistant coaching position?
MN: It had been something that we had talked about a number of times before. The experience I had at Concordia was great and I wouldn’t take anything back from it just because it was good to see that level and get my feet wet as far as being a head coach. It was a great experience. At the time, Coach (Manny) Rivera was really the right-hand man here so when he took off, the vacancy came open and we just started some conversations and stuff and at the time it felt like a good move for my family and a career change for me at that time.

BI: What can you bring to the table as an assistant for Coach Kish?
MN: I think it’s good just with the mentorship with the kids. Having to take care of everything over at Concordia and really answer all the questions was really valuable for me to come over here and utilize those skills I used over there. It was also good to see the different perspectives from the different levels. Being a Division I wrestler and then going down to a Division III and then coming back to the Division I level, it really gives you an all around perspective on how things work.

BI: Have you had the chance to peek over the river from time to time and see what’s been happening surrounding the Bison wrestling program since Kish got here?
MN: Absolutely, I mean I think that was one of the biggest things that intrigued me. I’ve really been following them throughout the process, we’ve even worked together in a number of different things as far as supporting each other’s programs, where they’re coming to our dual meets or we’ll come over to theirs, and things like that. We even match up some things with all of our guys, to work out together in the summer time and it really benefits everybody. But the reality of it is, it’s been fun to watch the progression of what these guys have done with Coach Kish and Rivera and Garnett and how they’ve bridged the gap here in the (conference) transition.

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Matt Nagel: Jumping Across the River
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