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High school track and field

Nguyen's time arrives to take over Panther boys program

Nguyen and longtime girls coach Gould, as well as assistant Puchalski, will work as trio
By Staff | Apr 06, 2021
Photo by: Mark Haskell Medomak Valley High School boys track-and-field coach Chuong “C.T.” Nguyen, front, demonstrates fitness and form to Panther student-athletes.

Waldoboro — High school student-athletes only get four years to show their stuff. Much is made about that being “their time.”

And, after nine years of assisting former Medomak Valley High School boys outdoor track-and-field coach Jake Newcomb, it is now time for Chuong “C.T.” Nguyen to begin his as the school’s new leader.

“I had some really good conversations with [athletic director] Matt Lash about, ‘Hey, do I have the time because I have a full-time position here?,' "’ said Nguyen, who has been the clinical social worker for the middle and high schools in Regional School Unit 40 for 16 years. “As the AD he’s been so good about building people up to say, ‘Hey, it’s your time. Are you ready to step up?' And I’m so ready.”

The 48-year-old Nguyen replaces Newcomb, who led the boys team nine years before leaving the district in the fall of 2019 to take a teaching position at Bonny Eagle High School in Standish.

Longtime coach George Gould will continue to guide the girls squad, while Katlin Puchalski, who has a daughter on the team, will take her previous position as an assistant for both teams this year.

“Jake really took me under his wing,” said Nguyen. “Even though he’s younger than me, he had a vast menu of experience. He played football, he was a shot putter. And then you meet up with coach George Gould who’s been coaching longer than I’ve lived … I certainly learned a lot from them and we were this perfect trio.”

“He [Gould] was a specialist in long-distance and Jake was throwing and sprints, so I just got in with the jumping events and the conditioning piece,” he added. “That’s how I became part of the program nine years ago.”

Now, the new trio of Nguyen, Gould and Puchalski hope to continue to carry that torch.

Nguyen, who lives in Warren, was born and raised in Vietnam and came to the United States when he was 9 years old. He has a background in martial arts and is a certified black belt, being well-versed in kung fu, tae-kwan-do and jujitsu.

“My grandfather taught me kung fu growing up in a village [Mekong Delta] in Vietnam,” said Nguyen. “And I didn’t stop. When I got to America in New Orleans I got my black belt when I was 14 years old.”

He graduated from Holy Cross School in New Orleans in 1992, where he was on the track team, but also dabbled in other sports like football, swimming and wrestling.

“I tried everything,” he said. “Just the idea of movements and mastery of footwork and this mental and physical challenge of martial arts really made me appreciate some of the other sports more.”

He has worked with the jumpers primarily on the track team over the past nine years, which makes sense, since his primary event in high school was the pole vault.

“That’s where they throw the adrenaline-seeking kids,” he said. “That’s the event. You weren’t afraid to go high or fall, so I did that.”

After high school, Nguyen graduated with a degree in social work from St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas.

Having started teaching martial arts at 14 years old, he also certified his first of 18 black belts in 34 years while he attended St. Edwards.

He then made his way to Maine, where he attended the University of Maine in Orono and received his graduate degree in social work in 2000. He also continued teaching martial arts in the Midcoast in 1997 and retired from that field four years ago.

After working at the Maine State Prison five years as a mental health provider, he moved on to his current position within RSU 40 in 2006.

And now, Nguyen, also an avid golfer, hopes the Panthers will continue to thrive under the tutelage of he, Gould and Puchalski.

“I’m so ready at this point to continue the track family,” he said. “Especially with the support staff we have in place. I could not do this by myself. There’s no way one coach can do the boys team and the same with coach George Gould and the girls. It needs to be a trio.”

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