• Bill Caine, Woodford Sun Sports Editor

Versailles native named NCAA Division 3 Coach of the Year

VERSAILLES NATIVE DALE WELLMAN,right, celebrates the NCAA Division III national championship with his players on Saturday, March 17. Hours before winning the national championship, Wellman was named the NCAA Division III coach of the year. (Nebraska Wesleyan University athletics photo)

Nebraska Wesleyan Head Basketball Coach and Versailles native Dale Wellman was named the NCAA Division III Coach of the Year by D3hoops.com on Saturday, March 17.

“It's an honor to be named Coach of the Year,” said the 1994 Woodford County High School graduate. “I grew up in Kentucky where basketball was a way of life and its been part of my life since I can remember.”

The award was a great start to a historic day for Wellman. Later that evening, the fourth year coach led Wesleyan to a 78-72 victory over Wisconsin-Oshkosh in the national championship game. The championship was the school's first. The Prairie Wolves ended the season on a 14-game winning streak and finished with a 30-3 record which was a school record.

Wellman's team is known for being quick and aggressive and are perennial leaders in points scored. His firsthand experience in the Division III tournament as a player in 1997-98 for the University of the South helped prepare his players for the task at hand. The Prarie Wolves coach likes to recruit tall athletic players and play lineups that are interchangeable, he said.

“We are enthusiastic about basketball at NWU,” said Wellman. “We work hard and try to be the best team on the floor every night. We have great passion for the game. Like I said, it's a part of who I am”.

Wellman was named Coach of the Year by the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and Division III West Region earlier this season. His coaching record is 83-32 overall at NWU and has been named Conference Coach of the Year all four seasons.

Wellman previously coached at Alfred State in New York where he was named the Empire 8 Conference Coach of the Year. He has traveled the country for his career in coaching, but still thinks of Woodford County as home.

“It's still home to me even though we've been gone for so long,” said Wellman. “My Dad is still in Versailles, and my brother and his family are still there as well. The outpouring of congratulations and overall love to my family from folks back home has been amazing. It's a special feeling to go through something like this and we are trying to soak it all in and appreciate the opportunity.”

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