MARSHALL, Minn. – Southwest Minnesota State University Director of Athletics Chris Hmielewski announced today the school will add women's and men's indoor and outdoor track and field as a varsity program and begin competition during the 2013-14 season.
SMSU last sponsored men's track and field from 1969 to 1986 and again from 1990 to 1993, and sponsored women's track and field from 1972 to 1986 and again from 1990 to 1993.
Nate Wolf, the current head coach of the SMSU women's and men's cross country programs, will serve at the head coach of the SMSU track teams.
Hmielewski also announced the plans of the Marshall Regional Track and Field Complex that will be built on the northeast corner of the SMSU campus. The renovation and expansion of the existing Mattke Field stadium is a partnership with SMSU and Marshall Schools.
"The addition of women's and men's cross country and indoor and outdoor track and field will continue SMSU's positive movement toward Title IX compliance and Mustang Athletics support of growing the enrollment at SMSU," Hmielewski said. "Track and field ranks second only to football in participation numbers in the Minnesota State High School League. The addition of these six sports will give SMSU a greater presence in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference graduating to sixteen total NCAA Division II sports. I am very confident that head cross country and track and field coach, Nate Wolf, will build a successful program around the recruitment of over 100 student-athletes who will excel in the classroom, in competition and make a positive impact on our campus community and within the region."
"I am incredibly excited that SMSU is able to make the announcement of adding men's and women's track and field," Wolf said. "I believe it is a positive step in the continued development and expansion of the Mustang athletic program as a whole and will offer an outstanding NCAA Division II opportunity for all the high school track and field athletes in the region. I have been very excited with the quality of athletes that have already committed to compete in track and field next year, and I look forward to adding to that group going forward."
The Marshall Regional Track and Field Complex will include a 9-lane, double bend, 400-meter track and will also include a water jump pit, hurdle for the steeplechase and high jump area. An NCAA regulation, synthetic turf, soccer/football field will also be placed within the track. Also included in the complex are track and field facilities that would be constructed north of the stadium and will consist of long/triple jump, pole vault, shot put, discus and the javelin.
"We feel fortunate to have a great partner in Marshall Public Schools (MPS)," Hmielewski said. "The Marshall Regional Track and Field Complex will serve the educational, activity and athletic needs of both organizations and ultimately all of southwestern Minnesota. We are very appreciative of our relationship with MPS and look forward to continued collaboration to increase opportunities for our students."
The project is expected to begin construction in the spring of 2013, with completion in the fall of 2013.
"The Marshall Regional Track and Field Complex will add to the compliment of facilities SMSU, MPS and the City of Marshall will have to attract regional amateur tournaments, meets and events," Hmielewski said. "This project is a joint venture between SMSU and MPS, but the group has always kept in mind the value this complex will bring to the Southwest Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission and its mission of increasing economic development in Marshall through enhanced tourism. I am excited about the direction we are heading in as a community. This project is one of many examples in Marshall where organizations are partnering on projects to enhance and expand opportunities for our community and the region."
"The new facility is an incredible vision and partnership between SMSU and Marshall Schools," Wolf said. "I have enjoyed the ease of working with the Marshall High School track and cross country coaches this year, and both programs are going to flourish in this state-of-the-art, championship caliber facility. All of the coaches share a vision of high-level track and field and this facility will enable us to train and compete at home at a championship level."
"I am excited by the commitment that SMSU has made in the staffing of the new program," Wolf commented. "We will be a fully staffed NCAA Division II program with full-time assistants and graduate assistants. I think this really rounds out the experience student-athletes can have if they choose to be a Mustang and will have the best facilities to train in."
A total of 13 schools will currently sponsor women's track and field in the 16-team Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference this spring, while 11 schools currently sponsor men's track and field.