DULUTH, Minn.-Chad Walthall figured this day would come sooner or later. The head men's basketball coach at Minnesota State Moorhead lost his main assistant Tuesday when it was announced Justin Wieck was named the new head coach at Minnesota-Duluth.
"It doesn't surprise me that he got this job," Walthall said. "It's a really good job, a great city and a high-profile program. I am really proud of him."
The 33-year old Wieck, who spent the last four seasons at MSUM, becomes the 17th head coach in the 88-year history of the Bulldog program and just the fourth since the 1984-85 season.
"My family and I are ecstatic to join the University of Minnesota Duluth and the Duluth community," said Wieck. "There is tremendous leadership from the top down in this department, as well as so many successful head coaches and programs. I am looking forward to joining such an awesome team. This basketball program has tremendous potential. The city of Duluth is a special place to be, UMD boasts a high academic reputation, a powerful and hungry fan and alumni base, and with the Romano Gymnasium renovations taking place this summer, this program is ready to take off. I am looking forward to jumping right in with this current roster, building relationships and getting this program back to the top of the NSIC."
During Wieck's four years at MSUM, the Dragons rolled up a 96-38 overall record, made three NCAA Tournament appearances, captured at least a share of two Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference regular titles, advanced to two NSIC Tournament finals and reigned as the NSIC North Division champions three times. Over that span, he helped produced two NSIC Players of the Year in Aaron Lien (2016-17) and Jordan Riewer (2014-15), six All-NSIC first team selections and two National Association of Basketball Coaches All-Americans.
In 2014-15-Wieck's first season-MSUM set a team single-season record for victories by going 35-4. The Dragons won the NCAA II Central Region crown and made it to the NCAA Division II Elite 8 for the first time ever.
"We had some unprecedented success while he was here," Walthall said. "He is really the total package. He understands the game and the X's and O's part of it, but he also has great communication skills with our players, our recruits, our fellow coaches and our department."
With the move, it means Walthall and Wieck will now be coaching against each other in the same conference.
"Its good and bad," Walthall said. "You know it's going to make our job more difficult but that's the way it should be. He has a lot of positive things going on there (Duluth). He will get that thing rolling."
Prior to MSUM, Wieck served as the head men's basketball coach for two years at the University of Jamestown (N.D.), where he went 32-31 while directing the Jimmies to a NAIA Division II National Tournament appearance in 2012-13 as well as a second-place finish in the Association of Independent Institutions (Aii) Tournament. The following year, Jamestown captured both the inaugural North Star Athletic Association regular season and tournament championships while finishing 17-12 overall. Wieck, the 2013-14 NSAA Coach of the Year, saw four of his players receive all-conference first team honors and two become All-Americans during his time in Jamestown.
Wieck was an assistant for two years at Northern State in Aberdeen, S.D., from 2010 to 2012. He spent four seasons at the University of Iowa from 2006 to 2010, two years as a a video coordinator when Walthall was an assistant for then-head coach Todd Lickliter.
"We got to know each other then," Walthall said.
A native of North Liberty, Iowa, Wieck joined the Iowa program as walk-on forward in 2004, after playing two seasons at Kirkwood Community College (Cedar Rapids, Iowa). He eventually earned a scholarship as a senior-the same year the Hawkeyes won the Big Ten Tournament and made their second straight NCAA Tournament appearance.
Wieck and his wife, Laura, have two children-son Jordy (6) and daughter Anya (4).
"We are very excited to have Justin Wieck as the new head coach of Bulldog men's basketball," said Minnesota-Duluth athletic director Josh Berlo. "He brings a proven track record of success as a student-athlete, head coach and assistant coach at multiple collegiate levels. We are confident in, and look forward to, a bright future for the men's basketball program at UMD."
Wieck officially starts at Minnesota-Duluth on May 15. Walthall said he expects to announce Wieck's replacement within the week.