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DECORAH — Decorah’s Dennis Olejniczak, one of nation’s most successful high school baseball coaches, has decided to retire following a 55-year tenure at the school.

Olejniczak will end his career with 1,417 wins, ranking him second all-time among high school baseball coaches in the United States.

The man who has coached Decorah since 1964 tied for his 18th Northeast Iowa Conference title this past summer. He guided the Vikings to 11 state tournament appearances, nine title games and three state championships.

Olejniczak said in a statement released Monday that the decision to retire was an easy one for him and his wife, Paula.

“We are thankful for all the support through the years from the players, parents, community, school district, assistant coaches and our family,” said Olejniczak, who will finishes with a 1,409-553 career record at Decorah following one season coaching Janesville’s program. “For the sake of the baseball program that we love so dearly, this is the right decision for Paula and I to make.

“It is our hope that parents and the public understand that it was always my desire to help our young people gain real-life experiences through playing the game of baseball to help them succeed in life beyond baseball. Our time with Decorah baseball was nothing short of an amazing experience and we hope the program can continue to experience great success in the coming years.”

Simply known as Coach O., Olejniczak was named Iowa’s Coach of the Year three times by the Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Association. In 2009, he was honored as the National Coach of the Year by the National High School Coaches Association.

“As a school district, we thank Coach O. and his wife Paula for their commitment to the school district and the baseball program,” Decorah athletics director Adam Riley said in a statement. “Their passion and support of the school district and community has set an example of service that is unprecedented in this day and age.

“We cannot thank them enough for the sacrifices made for the young people of our community, and wish he and Paula all the best as they continue to be a part of our community and supporting students in all activities during the coming years.”

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Sports Reporter

Sports reporter for The Courier

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