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Nordic state meet will be Kyes' last

After 11 years as head Nordic coach of both Park and Woodbury, James Kyes will be stepping down in order to move to Duluth.

Friday the 13th has a certain connotation for almost everybody. However, for Park and Woodbury head Nordic skiing coach James Kyes, the day will have a whole new meaning after this week.

Friday's state Nordic meet will be Kyes' last as head coach.

After 11 years of leading both the Royals and Wolfpack, Kyes will be stepping down as head coach at the season's end in order to move to Duluth.

"My wife has been asking me if I was starting to have any feelings about it," Kyes said. "No. I'm too busy. It's when you have the opportunity to contemplate that it's tough. Right now I'm just thinking about racing hard and racing fast. But, I imagine the end of the year banquet will be really ugly for me."

Woodbury's James Buchen and Park's Nicole Westphal, Sarah Meemken and Joe Snyder will all take part in the state meet.

However, the Woodbury girls -- senior Mari Wallis and juniors Mara Stewart and Natalie Lugg in particular -- raced their last meets under Kyes at the Section 4 meet last Wednesday.

"They were in tears and gave me a big hug," Kyes said. "They were disappointed because they wanted to go to state with me in my last year. When that moment comes, that's emotional and that's tough."

Kyes, a 1992 Woodbury graduate, took over for Jerome Detweiler after being the assistant coach for one year. He will be moving to Duluth, along with his wife Deborah and 3-year old son J -- which is short for James.

Deborah Kyes is a physician and has a new job opportunity in Duluth. Kyes said he plans on being a part-time stay at home dad and perhaps coach part time.

Kyes received his undergraduate degree in teaching at the University of Minnesota - Duluth and began his coaching career at Duluth Marshall, where he was a co-head Nordic coach for one year.

Kyes said he is excited about the change.

"I've been looking at how to get back to Duluth for 12 years now," Kyes said. "This just happens to be a great opportunity and a great situation for me to get back there. It's a town I love. It fits me, personally, very well."

After 12 years of teaching full time, Kyes said he feels very fortunate to have the opportunity to take a step back and survey the future.

"To be able to spend a lot of time with my family is really an exciting opportunity for me," Kyes said. "There's not a lot of people in this world that get to drop what they're doing and be with their family."

However, with all that said, leaving won't be easy for Kyes -- even if those feelings haven't yet quite hit home.

"When you think about your athletes and what dedication they have to you and your program that is really cool," Kyes said. "That's a piece you don't really see when you're right in the middle of things."