Nebraska Wesleyan defeated Wisconsin-Oshkosh, 78-72, for its first NCAA Division III men’s basketball national championship Saturday in Salem, Va.
Dale Wellman, the head coach of the Prairie Wolves, is from Versailles and played baseball and basketball at Woodford County High School. He went on to play both sports for The University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., where he twice participated in the Division III basketball tournament as a player (1997 and 1998) and was an all-conference baseball player.
Wellman just finished his fourth season as the head coach at Nebraska Wesleyan, where he’s 83-32. The Prairie Wolves (30-3) set a school record for wins this season.
Wellman started his coaching career in 2002 as an assistant at Kenyon College in Ohio, opting to stay in sports instead of becoming an architectural historian. Wellman later earned his master’s degree at Eastern Kentucky University, where he was an assistant on Travis Ford’s staff in 2004 and 2005.
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In an article earlier this week by Ron Powell of the Lincoln Journal Star, Wellman described his infatuation with the Nebraska Wesleyan program and likened Lincoln, Neb., to Lexington.
“I knew they (NWU) were really a strong Division III program when I was playing, I knew what kind of facilities they had and I had been to Lincoln before, and it was a lot like Lexington, Kentucky, where I grew up,” Wellman told the paper. “I kept track of how they were doing every year, and I always thought this was a job I would apply for if it ever came open.”
Wellman is the son of Ferrell Wellman, a Pikeville native who has been inducted into Kentucky Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame and has received the Kentucky MIC Award, the KBA’s most prestigious honor.
Cooper Cook, a junior from Kansas, scored 16 points in the finals and was named MVP of the Division III tournament.