Aberdeen, S.D. - Northern State University Director of Athletics, Josh Moon and Deputy Director of Athletics/Cross Country and Track and Field sport administrator, Zach Flakus announced today the hiring of Patrick Heckroth as the head coach for the Wolves cross country and track and field programs. Heckroth joins the Wolves after three seasons at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke where he was the Associate Head Track and Field Coach.
“We are very excited to welcome Patrick and his wife Amanda to the Wolves family,” described Moon. “Patrick will do an excellent job leading Wolves Track & Field/Cross Country. He has a proven record of success at both the Division I and Division II level, and has a high level of energy that will translate well to our student-athletes. Patrick outlined a clear vision and plan to elevate our programs and engage our student-athletes, including expanding our recruiting footprint which will help improve our overall performance, and improve the overall student-athlete experience at NSU.”
Heckroth holds certifications as an IAAF Level V Elite and USATF Level 3 for sprints/hurdles/relays, and USTFCCCA Specialist (jumps) coach. He is a member of both the USATF and USTFCCCA.
“Coach Heckroth brings a wealth of Track & Field/CC knowledge to NSU,” explained Flakus. “He has a mid-west background with national recruiting and coaching connections. He is really excited to see all of the development and construction on campus, helping NSU improve our draw for local, national and even international student athletes. He met a few area coaches through the hiring process and looks forward to continuing those relationships. Coach Heckroth is a track enthusiast and looks forward to NSU’s future.”
In his three seasons at UNCP, Heckroth ran the day-to-day operations of the track and field program including practice coordination, meet day operations, home meet management, and student-athlete recruitment. Heckroth coached one NCAA All-American, five NCAA Qualifiers, three All-Academic performers, 31 NCAA provisional qualifiers, 26 school record holders, 12 Peach Belt Conference Champions, and 45 All-Conference selections as the primary coach for the sprints, jumps, and hurdles. This past season, Heckroth was named the Regional Assistant Coach of the Year. UNC Pembroke won the 2017 Peach Belt Men’s Track and Field Championship, and finished as the conference runner-up in both 2017 (women) and 2018 (men).
"I am thrilled about the opportunity of leading the Wolves Cross Country and Track & Field programs,” noted Heckroth. “I want to thank President Downs, Director of Athletics Josh Moon, Deputy Director of Athletics Zach Flakus and the search committee; but most importantly the student-athletes for trusting in my leadership. NSU provides great opportunities for student-athletes to have success, both in the classroom and on the track, in arguably one of the toughest conferences at the Division II level."
He began his career as a volunteer assistant coach, working with the sprints, jumps, and hurdles, at Fresno State from 2011-13. He helped develop three USA Junior National Qualifiers in the 400 hurdles, seven NCAA Division I Preliminary round qualifiers, two Mountain West Conference champions and numerous all-conference selections.
Heckroth added, "I have had some great mentors in my career, all who have helped shape the type of coach I am today. Their influence has been never ending, and a very large reason why I am in this position today. I have been privileged to work with great student-athletes at each institution, with strong work ethics and huge desires to be the successful. Northern State continues the opportunity to work with some of the best student-athletes in the nation and internationally."
Heckroth then moved on to spend two seasons as the assistant coach at Valparaiso University as the primary sprints and hurdles coach and recruiting coordinator. He mentored one student-athlete (Nicole Zehel) to the Horizon League title in the steeplechase, while his sprinters and hurdlers also shattered four school records and establish 26 top-5 marks in program annals.
Heckroth is a 2011 graduate of the University of Northern Iowa where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Movement and Exercise Science. He was a member of the Panther track and field program, specializing in the 400 hurdles. Heckroth also holds a Master of Arts in Sport Psychology from California State University, Fresno and Master of Science in Sport Administration from Valparaiso University.
Patrick and his wife, Amanda were married earlier this spring and will reside in Aberdeen. He will assume his duties with the program on July 22.
What Others are Saying About Heckroth
"I would like to wish Patrick the best as he takes over the reins at Northern State. His enthusiasm and energy that he brought to our program over the past three years will be missed. He will make them a contender sooner than later and am excited to watch him succeed.” – Dr. Peter Ormsby, Director of Cross Country and Track & Field at University of North Carolina at Pembroke
“Patrick has been a tremendous asset to our track program’s success. In addition to being a great recruiter, his strategic approach to meets has helped maximize points for our team.” – Dick Christy, Director of Athletics at University of North Carolina at Pembroke
"Patrick is a rising star in the coaching world. He's a proven coach who brings with him all the tools necessary to develop and lead a winning program. Patrick and his staff will do things the right way and will continue to build on NSU's success." – Chris Baptista, Associate Head Coach Track & Field Coach at Cal Poly
“Northern has made a great decision in choosing Patrick as their next head coach. His recruiting skills, dynamic personality, eye for choosing talented athletes, and ability to bring out the best in student athletes both personally and on the track make him a great asset to the university. I am thrilled for him as he begins this next step in his young career.” - Ryan Moore, Head Track and Field Coach at Valparaiso University
“Patrick is a great coach. He would always push me to be the best I could be. As soon as Patrick became my coach, my stats started improving incredibly. Patrick would push me out of my comfort zone during training which led to multiple accomplishments. I am so thankful to have had a coach like Patrick, he will truly be missed.” - Jeanna Cube Jimenez, Former UNCP student-athlete (national qualifier, 4-time provisional qualifier, 10-time All-Conference, 4-time Conference Champion, 18-time All-Region, and 5-time school record holder)