FARGO — North Dakota State formally dissolved the standard structure of a head men’s and head women’s track and field coach on Monday, Aug. 3, with the naming of Stevie Keller as director of track and field and cross country. The veteran Bison coach will oversee both the men’s and women’s programs.
The move was expected in light of all the assistant coaching men’s and women’s crossover in recent years. For instance, highly regarded throwing coach Justin St. Clair works with both the men and women.
Keller, the head women's coach since 2014, technically takes the reins on the men’s side from Don Larson, who retired after 41 years in March.
“The director of track and field position has become commonplace in college athletics,” said NDSU athletic director Matt Larsen.
It was a slam dunk hire. In six years leading the NDSU women’s track and field program, Keller has won all 11 Summit League team titles. In 2017, NDSU sent seven qualifiers to the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
The dual men’s and women’s role won’t be anything new to Keller. He was the associate head men’s and women’s coach from 2008-14 and has worked with both men’s and women’s multi-event athletes since becoming a graduate assistant in 2000.
“You see a lot of track and field programs around the country basically operate as one,” Keller said. “We’ve done a lot of things together prior to this so that made this transition even easier. We’ve been traveling together, coaches overlap in event areas so it seemed like the best fit for our program.”
Keller is taking over a league dynasty track and field program. The women’s team has won 25 straight Summit titles since joining the league in 2008. The Bison men have won a combined 19 Summit indoor and outdoor titles, including the last 10 outdoor championships.
Keller plans to hire another assistant in the coming days to round out the staff. Andrew Carlson will continue to coach the distance and middle-distance runners. Clayton Pritchard will handle the jumps, sprints and pole vault and Casie Witte will assume Keller’s former role with the multi-event athletes and high jump.
“It was important to keep the staff in place,” he said.
By combining the head coaching position, Keller’s role will change in that it will be less coaching and more recruiting and administrative.
“It’s important that when they get on campus that they get a chance to spend time with the head coach,” Keller said of recruits. “Tell them what our program is about. I’m sure there will be a lot of hidden things Lars did over the years, 41 years, but that’s the way I learned things. Follow Lars around. If you want to do a good job, follow this guy around day to day and I learned so much.”