MITCHELL, S.D. – Dakota Wesleyan University Athletics is proud to announce the hiring of Zach Lurz as the next Head Track & Field Coach, it was announced by the athletic department Friday.
"We couldn't be more excited to promote Zach as the Head Track & Field coach at DWU," Director of Athletics Jon Hart said.
Lurz spent the previous year as the DWU assistant track & field coach with the throwing events. In his first year with DWU, he guided the Tigers to their first throwing All-American in 20 years, while boasting four national qualifying marks with three being All-Americans. Along with these accolades, four new school records were broken in the past year under his guidance.
"We have a lot of momentum with the track team with a historical year across the board with the amount of top-10 performances, All-American finishes, and even several conference champions," Lurz mentioned. "I'm hoping to continue to grow the team and provide an atmosphere of success that these student-athletes deserve. My goal for the team is to be one of the top performing teams in the GPAC and NAIA. We have made significant strides towards those goals, but we need to continue to improve and build upon that base."
Prior to joining DWU, Lurz spent four years at fellow Great Plains Athletic Conference member, Concordia University. In his four years with Concordia, Lurz tallied 17 All-American finishes between the shot put, discus, hammer throw and weight throw, while becoming a four-time National Champion in the shot put.
"His decorated career as a student-athlete speaks for itself and he knows how to develop and create a winning culture," Hart commented.
The Chadron, Neb., native was also named a two-time NAIA National Field Athlete of the Year for his efforts. In 2015 Lurz was named the NAIA Outdoor National Championships MVP, while being named the GPAC Outstanding Performer in 2014.
In December of 2017, Lurz received his Strength and Conditioning Certification as well as his Program Management Certification through the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Education Program. He also received a Level One Certification through the USA Track & Field Education Program in November of 2016. With this certification, he is eligible to be a certified coach for the USATF programs.
Lurz is expected to receive his Strength and Conditioning Specialist Certification through the National Strength and Conditioning Association in August, which would allow him to become a certified strength and conditioning professional. He is also working on his Master's in Sport Science and Rehab and anticipates graduating in August of 2019.
"When Jon told me 'you're our guy' I was pretty humbled," Lurz said. "I'd be one of the youngest head coaches in the country but they still have the upmost faith in my abilities. It really speaks to the support and faith the administration has in their coaches. I know myself well enough that their faith isn't misplaced. We will be doing some big things moving forward."
Lurz replaces Derik Fossum who spent the past four seasons as the head track & field coach, as well as the head cross country coach. Under Fossum, the DWU track & field team earned three NAIA All-Americans, five NAIA All-America Scholar-Athletes and 67 new top-10 record holders in school history in 2018.
"Derik has been a staple of DWU ever since he graduated in 2012," Hart said. "He has embodied our core values and always has the best interest in our students. Throughout his time at DWU, he has been a constant team player and one of our greatest ambassadors. We can't thank Derik enough for all he has done and for constantly bleeding blue. We wish him nothing but the best as he chooses a different career path closer to home."
Dakota Wesleyan received 45 applicants during a thorough search. DWU has also started a search for a new head cross country and assistant track & field coach to be in place by this fall season.