Familiar face, new roleThe new face at the helm of the Hastings wrestling program is anything but a new face.
By: Chad Richardson, The Hastings Star-Gazette
The new face at the helm of the Hastings wrestling program is anything but a new face.
Justin Hahn, an assistant coach at Hastings High School since 1999, is the new head coach for the Raiders. Hastings athletics director Tom Johnson made the hire as school was letting out.
“Justin has an incredible work ethic,” Johnson said. “He has great character and has an outstanding knowledge of the sport of wrestling. His commitment to the program will be second to none.”
Hahn replaces Paul Vaith, who coached in Hastings for 21 years.
Serving under Vaith was an honor for Hahn.
You can’t have a better mentor, and you can’t work with a better person than Paul,” Hahn said.
Hahn has credentials in the wrestling community that are sterling. He graduated from Forest Lake High School in 1993 and was a state wrestling champion. He was also a captain on the Forest Lake team that won a state title. He attended Augsburg College and was a captain on a wrestling team that won a national championship. One of his teammates and co-captains was former Hastings wrestler Dan Lewandowski. Hahn was an All-American at Augsburg and graduated in 1997. He worked for a year in out-state Minnesota as a teacher and coach, and then came to Hastings in 1999 as a teacher and assistant coach.
Now, 10 years later, he’s earned quite a promotion. He takes the reins of one of Minnesota’s top programs that year-in, year-out competes with the state’s best.
“What Paul has done in directing the program for the past 21 years is great,” Hahn said. “The things he’s done involving families in the community, it has that whole community feel about it. You feel like you’re part of something more. You’re part of a family when you come here. That was one of the biggest things for me.”
Vaith has kind words to say about Hahn, too.
“He’s a very hard working, dedicated young man who has a great passion for the sport,” Vaith said. “I think he’s going to do a great job. He’s been very loyal and dedicated to the program. He’s a very humble young man, and he wants to work very hard to help kids get better. He’s concerned about the whole person, not just the wrestler.”
When Johnson told Hahn the good news, well, it was a memorable moment for Hahn.
“He just came down to my room during my prep hour and let me know that I had the job,” Hahn said. “I was a little bit shocked, but also very, very excited. There were a lot of emotions at that point in time.”
Now, the emotions have abated and Hahn is focusing on getting ready for the 2009-10 season.
“There are big shoes to fill, and there are high expectations,” he said. “Hopefully, I’ll be able to continue that tradition and continue building young student-athletes into prosperous adults and continue what Paul has created here.”
Hahn and his wife live in Hastings. He teaches social studies at the high school.
During his 10 years in Hastings, he missed a couple seasons while he served his country as a member of the Army Reserves. He served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Hahn credits his parents, Jim and Diane, with helping him stick with wrestling when he was in elementary school.
“They taught me that if you keep plugging away, good things will happen,” he said. “They did for me.”