Wrestling: Nein gears up for first season as Lakers' head coach; Tyson Ullyott commits to MSU-Moorhead
Taylor Nein was chosen as the replacement for Rob Ullyott after 30 seasons of coaching Detroit Lakes wrestling. He aims to bring a fresh perspective and give back to his new community. As senior Tyson Ullyott prepares for his first season without his dad as head coach, he also made his commitment to wrestle at Minnesota State University-Moorhead next fall.
DETROIT LAKES – Rob Ullyott took over the Detroit Lakes wrestling program before new head coach Taylor Nein was born.
“It’s kind of weird, but not in a bad way.” senior Tyson Ullyott said. “My dad has been my coach my whole life. I like Taylor. He’s a good coach who knows what he’s doing. He’s not afraid to jump into practice with us. He’s a good guy.”
A new face sits at the helm for the first time in three decades. Nein, a former North Dakota State University wrestler and high school-level assistant coach, is getting his first crack as the head guy.
“I think me being a younger guy and being able to roll around with the kids is big,” Nein said. “I think coming from North Dakota, wrestling at Bismarck High and going to NDSU, and bringing those aspects here is a plus. Prior to this, I coached at West Fargo and volunteered at Frazee. The coaching style is always different, no matter where you go. I’ve learned stuff from Bismarck, NDSU and West Fargo that I’m excited to bring here.”
Nein graduated from Bismarck High School in 2016 as a two-time North Dakota state champion and a two-time runner-up. He posted a 48-1 senior-year record and was named North Dakota’s Powerade Athlete of the Year for wrestling after winning the 145-pound state title.
At NDSU, Nein wrestled in two official seasons, totaling a career record of 15-21. He then transitioned into coaching in the Fargo area at multiple levels.
Nein is confident in his ability to run a program and has found a home in Detroit Lakes.
“I’m new to the area, and I wanted to give back to the community,” Nein said. “I felt the best way was to be part of the DL wrestling program. Taking the head coaching position was a spot where I knew my influence would be heard. I’m here to give 110% effort to this program and to this community. I have a good group of assistants that are on board to bring in some fresh changes to the program and are excited.”
“We have new coaches, which obviously includes myself,” Nein said. “Rob is helping out some stuff on the paperwork side of things. I’m really pleased with everyone giving a good effort and accepting me coming in. I’m excited to see how everyone does on Saturday in Fosston.”
In year one, Nein isn’t looking at win totals. His focus is building a foundation of character off the mat and hard work in the wrestling room.
“I want everybody to improve from how they did last year,” Nein said. “Maybe it’s winning one or two extra matches. I also want them to be good people. I’m not as focused on win totals or certain wrestling goals. I just want to create an environment where kids are encouraged to become good people.”
Nein has a big senior class to lean on during this transition, including Tyson Ullyott, who committed to wrestle for Minnesota State University-Moorhead at the Division II level next fall.
“We got a good group here,” he said. “We’re hoping to accomplish some stuff this year. We have a lot of guys in the room that we’re friends with and some old guys back with the team. We’re looking to turn some heads. I want one last good run with this team. I want to make that state run.”
Ullyott was one of four Detroit Lakes wrestlers to compete at the Class 2A state wrestling tournament at the Xcel Energy Center last winter. The Guillotine ranked him as the No. 6 wrestler at 145-pounds in Class 2A. Not only will Ullyott get a chance to play a significant role again for the Lakers, but he will also assume a leadership position.
“I’ve had good leaders and bad leaders. I’m just trying to be the best leader I can be,” Ullyott said. “Watching the older guys fall short of their goals is my motivation. Watching them come up short and seeing how sad they were, and hearing them talk about the things they would’ve done differently–that fuels me. It makes me want to leave it all out there.”
It was the feeling of seeing a season come to an abrupt end that convinced Ullyott to keep his career going beyond high school.
“I’ve known about having a chance to wrestle in college since my sophomore year,” Ullyott said. “I didn’t know if I wanted to. Wrestling is a hard sport. It’s like a job. I didn’t really know until football ended. That feeling of it ending and just never getting to play it again, I just can’t do that with wrestling. I’ll never be able to step away from wrestling on my own. Time is going to have to run out on me.”
MSU-Moorhead competes in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, one of the toughest groups in Division II wrestling. Ullyott is excited to be a Dragon and praises his support system for pushing him to the next level.
“I have some friends that are there right now, and the program is really good,” Ullyott said. “The coach is great. They’re on the come-up. It’s a good fit for me…A lot of guys have helped me with this. My practice partners have been great. Obviously, my dad has been with me every step of the way. Taylor has been really helpful too. He wrestled in college, and he knew what I needed to do and what’s best for me, so I’m super thankful for all of them.”
Seniors Cade Jackson and Jeffrey Moen also earned top-10 rankings from The Guillotine. Jackson, who set the program record for wins in a season with 47 in 2021-22, is the fourth-ranked guy at 170-pounds. Moen sits at No. 8 at 285-pounds.
Every year is a dog fight to get out of Section 8-2A, and 2022-23 is no different. Pequot Lakes-Pine River-Backus and Thief River Falls both landed inside the top 12 preseason rankings, while several dark horses stand in the way of the Lakers’ fourth team section title.
Whether as a team or individually, Ullyott wants to cap off his final high school season with hardware.
“State championships are always on the mind,” Ullyott said. “It’s what you think about at practice, but you have to take it one tournament at a time. Winning that first tournament, then focusing on that next tournament or that next dual, is how you get there. It’s about taking the little steps in order to become a state champion.”