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New man in charge: Keller replaces Fjeldheim as NMU Nordic coach

Keller

By Journal Sports Staff

MARQUETTE — Losing a legendary head coach to retirement can be tough for a university to replace, but Northern Michigan University has found its new Nordic skiing leader.

The Wildcats announced Wednesday that Andy Keller will be the new coach after serving as the team’s associate head coach last season and assistant coach the previous three seasons under the legendary Sten Fjelheim, who announced his retirement in March after 35 years at NMU.

“Andy has demonstrated the ability to recruit and coach high-level student-athletes, and earned the trust and respect of coworkers and the team,” NMU Director of Athletics Forrest Karr said in a press release. “Andy is a student of the sport and very thoughtful. He encourages communication and student-athletes being involved in the development of training programs. Andy genuinely cares about helping student-athletes and has a solid plan to continue Northern’s tradition of success.”

During his time with NMU, Keller has been solely responsible for designing and implementing the new strength program for the skiers.

Also during that span, 15 All-Americans have competed for the Wildcats and one was a national champion. This past year, the ‘Cats had five All-Americans and the women’s team finished third at the NCAA Skiing Championships, which was its highest finish since 2014. The 232 combined points from the men and women were the highest among teams without Alpine skiers.

“I am honored to be named the Head Coach of the Northern Michigan Nordic Ski Team,” Keller said in that same press release.

“I would like to thank Forrest Karr and the members of the search committee for giving me the opportunity to lead this program that I care very deeply about. I am eager to contribute my enthusiasm and skills into guiding the ski program into the next phase of academic and athletic achievement. I will strive to carry on the tradition of excellence that Sten Fjeldheim has instilled within the student-athletes of this team.”

Before arriving at Northern, Keller worked for five years with the Central Cross Country Skiing Association and spent 2012-14 as the head coach of the Junior Development program. The program had four All-Americans, one U.S. national champion, 17 junior national team qualifiers and one Under-18 Scandinavian Cup qualifier.

If that wasn’t enough, he also designed the athlete training program at CXC and trained skiers from three different states.

In October 2014, he became CXC’s Director of Senior, Junior and Post Graduate programs and was responsible for the management of that program and the athletic training programs. That team had a national champion and a World Championships qualifier. Keller also organized the College Summer Residency Program with the NMU Olympic Training Site (now National Training Site) as well as serving as a staff member for three World Junior and U23 World Championship squads.

Keller was a four-year letter winner at Michigan Tech and a three-year letterwinner for the cross country team before joining the world of coaching.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Writer Ryan Stieg. His email address is rstieg@miningjournal.net.

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