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Scotland assistant girls' coach named NHSACA finalist

SCOTLAND — Mary Ellen Luikens makes a point to take personal interest in her athletes, helping them to improve and put their best efforts forth.

For making her mark on young athletes in Scotland, Luikens has been named a 2014 National High School Athletic Coaches Association Coach of the Year finalist from South Dakota, it was released Monday. Luikens, who had surgery Monday and was not available for an interview, has been named the finalist for assistant in girls’ sports.

Luikens retired from teaching and coaching last year and was the throwers’ coach in track and field. She coached for 39 years and has coached some top throwers in the state.

“She ran a solid program and the kids’ performance is evidence of how they responded to her coaching,” Scotland principal and assistant track coach Ryan Bruns said.

As a finalist, each individual will be honored at the National Awards Banquet at the NHSACA 49th Annual Conference June 18 in Jackson Hole, Wyo. This annual event honors athletic directors and coaches in 18 sports from around the United States.

2014 South Dakota NHSACA Coach of the Year finalists

Football: Kim Nelson, SF Roosevelt; Girls’ track and field: Paul Hendry, RC Stevens; Boys’ cross country: Phil Bjorneberg, Parker; Gymnastics: Mark Upward, Vermillion; Golf: Don Barnes, SF O’Gorman; Wrestling: Steve Keszler, Sturgis; Golf: Phil Hunt, RC Stevens; Assistant boys’ coach: Dan Mitchell, Yankton; Assistant girls’ coach: Mary Ellen Luikens; Athletic Director: Bill Clements.