Former Mandan High School Head coach Luke Mellmer is headed across the river to take the head job at Bismarck St. Mary’s Central. Mellmer, a two-time state champion for Dickinson High School and former Minnesota Gopher, announced his resignation from Mandan High School on Tuesday. Mellmer was the 2016 West Region and State coach of the year. The Braves finished third as a team at the state tournament in February. Mellmer, who started his teaching career in welding at Mandan High School, moved over to the Bismarck Career Academy in the Fall of 2017. He is also a resident of Bismarck.
“My time at Mandan was fantastic, but it was time for me personally to make a move that will benefit my longterm individual and coaching goals,” Mellmer noted to NDwrestle. “I am happy knowing I am leaving Mandan in a good position at both the high school and club levels.”
There are a lot of factors behind Mellmer’s decision to take over a Saints program that will return two state champions next winter in Drew Steidler and Reece Barnhardt. Though the Mellmer family is well known to have wrestled for Dickinson High School, Luke and the rest of Rick and Gloria Mellmer’s children actually attended catholic school in Dickinson from elementary all the way though graduation at Trinity High School.
“Catholic education has been an important part of my life for as long as I can remember,” Mellmer said. “(Catholic schools) did a lot for me and I am very excited with what the entire Light of Christ system is doing in Bismarck.
The move is also a family decision. Mellmer is taking over a staff where older brother Jake has been an assistant for eight years. Many of Mellmer’s nephews are in the school system or will be down the road. Mellmer is also looking to start a family of his own. He was engaged in February and will get married in June of 2020.
“Family is everything to me and my brother and I have long dreamed of a situation like this one,” Mellmer said.
This fall, St. Mary’s Central will move into their new campus on the north end of town. For the first time in years, the Saints wrestling program will have designated wrestling room with a lot of training space.
“This wrestling room is going to allow us to do a lot of things that we weren’t able to do in the past because of where past rooms were located,” Mellmer stated. “We have lofty goals developing great young men along with putting teams into championship contention. The Saints have always had great individual success and now the facility will allow us to further develop athletes at all age levels into successful wrestlers.”
St. Mary’s Central Athletic Director Bruce Schumacher also noted the move as a turning point for St. Mary’s Central athletics across the board.
“The move to the new campus this fall is very exciting for everyone. All of our athletic programs will benefit from the extra space that will be available to them at the new campus but our wrestling program may be the one that is benefiting the most. Because of space limitations, we were only able to have wrestling mats available to our wrestlers from November through February. Having a designated wrestling room will allow the coaching staff to provide opportunities our wrestlers that were just not possible in the past.”
Jayden Richter, who has head coached the Saints for the last four seasons, is staying on staff as an assistant.
“Jayden is a good friend of mine and I am grateful that he was willing to let me step into this role,” Mellmer said.
Schumacher echoed Mellmer’s sentiments regarding Coach Richter.
“This coaching hire is a unique one in the fact that we are able to keep our former head coach Jayden Richter on the staff as an assistant wrestling coach,” Schumacher noted. “Coach Richter has done a great job in leading our wrestling program over the past 4 years and he is excited to work with Luke to build the St. Mary’s wrestling program.”
Schumacher specifically pointed to Mellmer’s passion and motivation for the sport as a reason why there should be excitement in the SMCHS community.
“The things that he has been able to accomplish as a young coach are a testament to his drive and excitement for the sport of wrestling,” Schumacher stated.