When replacing legendary wrestling head coach Nate Urbach, Powell High School leaders didn’t look far. In fact, the Panthers opted to choose a suitor within the program: assistant coach Nick …
When replacing legendary wrestling head coach Nate Urbach, Powell High School leaders didn’t look far. In fact, the Panthers opted to choose a suitor within the program: assistant coach Nick Fulton.
For Fulton — who grew up in Powell and wrestled at PHS — earning this opportunity in the spring was surreal.
“Obviously I was excited,” Fulton said. “Being able to take over the reins was something that was always a goal.”
A 2000 graduate of Powell High School, Fulton medaled and finished second at the Class 3A state meet in the 152-pound weight class his senior year. Following his studies at University of Wyoming, Fulton became the head coach of Lander Valley’s program before eventually returning to Powell as an assistant.
As he steps into the new position, Fulton has some big shoes to fill. In 16 years as Powell’s head coach, Urbach won six team state championships and helped develop countless athletes into better wrestlers.
Before taking over, Fulton had the chance to serve under Urbach as an assistant. He spent six seasons alongside the PHS legend, learning what it takes to be an effective head coach.
“We worked really, really well together,” Fulton said. “I picked up a lot of things, just his passion and love for the sport. It goes a long way. It was a great experience — he’s the best in the business.”
Just a few months into Fulton’s new role, it is evident to PHS activities director Scott McKenzie that he chose the right man for the job.
“Nick [Fulton]’s knowledge of the sport and passion is second to none,” McKenzie said. “His teams will never be outworked by another team at any time during the season.”
He’s also made a strong impression among his student-athletes.
“So far, I think he’s done a great job,” PHS senior Seth Horton said. “He did a lot of stuff last year, and I, personally, felt like he took me under his wing last year. He’s great with all the kids, and he makes sure we go hard.”
Though Fulton has impressed those surrounding him thus far, it’s a strange year to make this transition. COVID-19 has impacted various aspects of the sport, ranging from social distancing practices to the number of spectators allowed to attend a dual.
But this hasn’t changed Fulton’s mentality going into his first season at the helm.
“I don’t think there’s an area of life we can point to that’s not weird in any profession,” the coach said. “I expect there to be more changes; it’s part of the job. Go to work and deal with them as they come up.”
In his first year as head coach, Fulton wants the Panthers to earn a podium finish at the state meet in February. With Star Valley, Green River and other strong programs competing in the 3A classification, that’s no easy feat.
But if he continues pushing his athletes during practice, Fulton believes it’s attainable.
“We always carry high expectations,” he said. “We want to compete at the top level at state tournaments. We’re going to do the best we can all year and let the cards shake out.”