Aberdeen, S.D. – Northern State University head track and field and cross country coach Patrick Heckroth announced his resignation from NSU today, effective June 21. NSU will immediately begin a national search for a new leader of Wolves Track and Field.
“I want to thank the student-athletes first and foremost, as they welcomed me from the beginning and gave everything they had for the program to be successful,” explained Heckroth. “We had some great success throughout the year, academic and athletic, which is a strong testament to the student-athletes and staff. I appreciate the administration for allowing me to the lead this program over the past year, and representing Northern State University.”
With Heckroth’s departure, Director of Athletics Josh Moon announced the promotion of assistant track and field/cross country coach Livia Mahaffie to head men’s and women’s cross country coach, effective immediately. Mahaffie will continue in her role as the lead distance Coach for Wolves track & field. Mahaffie and Assistant Track & Field/Primary Throws Coach Jon Evenson will lead Wolves track and field on an interim basis while the national search is conducted.
“We would like to thank Patrick for his efforts in elevating NSU track and field/cross country,” said Moon. “We know that this was a difficult decision for him and his family, and wish him and his wife Amanda all the best in the future.”
With Livia Mahaffie set to take on new responsibilities, Moon believes the future is bright for Wolves track and field/cross country.
“We are very excited to elevate Livia into the head coach position for Wolves cross country, while she maintains her role as lead distance coach for Wolves track and field. Livia has great energy and is passionate about developing student-athletes, and we think that she will continue to build on our 2019 class and ensure we keep raising the bar for these programs. We are also excited to retain Jon Evenson in his role as throws coach. Jon has done an awesome job developing student-athletes into high-level performers on the national stage, and we look forward to his continued leadership in this area.”
Mahaffie joined the Wolves in the fall of 2018 as an assistant for both the cross country and track and field programs. In her first season, Northern State hosted a successful NSIC Cross Country Championships from Lee Park Golf Course in the fall. From the NSIC Indoor and Outdoor Championships the Wolves distance runners tallied two podium finishes, while the men’s and women’s distance medley relay teams took eighth at the NSIC Indoor Championships.
“I would like to thank university President, Dr. Timothy Downs, Director of Athletics, Josh Moon and Deputy Director of Athletics, Zach Flakus for the incredible opportunity to lead the Wolves cross country program in this new role as head coach,” explained Mahaffie. “I’m grateful for the mentorship of coach Heckroth this past year and all I have learned under his leadership. I’m excited to continue building upon the foundation established and look forward to elevating the program to new heights. Go Wolves!”
Prior to her time at NSU, Mahaffie was the assistant cross country and track and field coach at Loyola University New Orleans, where she coached three NAIA national cross country qualifiers, one NAIA national qualifier in track and field, one NAIA All-American, 12 school record holders, and the SSAC Female Cross Country Freshman Athlete of the Year. The women’s track and field team recorded podium finishes at the SSAC Outdoor Championships taking second in 2017 and third in 2018.
She graduated from the University of North Carolina Pembroke with a Bachelor of Science in Exercise and Sport Science in 2013 and from Seattle University with a Master of Art in Sport Administration and Leadership in 2017.
Mahaffie ran collegiately at UNCP, competing in both cross country and track and field. In 2011, she earned Peach Belt Conference Runner of the Year honors, and went on to win the conference championship in 2012, where she also qualified for the NCAA National Championships. She is the former school record holder in both the 5k and 6k distances. On the track, Mahaffie is a 7-time school record holder and USTFCCCA All-Region recipient.
Evenson is finishing up his seventh season with the track and field programs. He has made seven trips to the NCAA DII national meet and come home with five All-American awards; Yvonne Freeze twice in the discus (’12, ’13), who also owns the school record in that event, Breann Jackson twice in the weight throw (’15, ’16), and Tanner Berg in the weight throw this past season.
“Coach Heckroth did a great job during his time here,” added Evenson. “He will be missed as a coach and a friend. We will learn from what he brought to Northern’s track and field teams and we will grow and prosper in the future from it. I look forward to working with and learning from the next head coach.”
He has also coached five conference champions in the javelin; two-time NSIC champion Alex Webster who, qualified for the NCAA DII national meet in 2014 and owns the current school record, 2016 graduate Devin Olson, who also owns two individual NSIC titles in the javelin, David Murphy, who took home his first conference title in 2016, Michaela Schlecht who earned the honor as a senior in 2017, and Monte Meyerink who brought home top honors in 2018.
A Lisbon N.D. native, Evenson was a 3-time All-State performer in the discus and javelin. He then threw collegiately at Northern State. During his four years throwing for the Wolves, Evenson racked up three individual conference titles and two NCAA DII national provisional qualifying marks in the javelin. He was also a conference place winner in the discus and the shot put for the Wolves.
NSU finished with their highest finishes in a number of years at the NSIC Outdoor Championships in 2019, with both the men and women’s teams finishing sixth, with two NSIC Champions in the women’s pole vault and women’s 400m hurdles and four overall all-conference performers.