Southwest Minnesota State University Director of Athletics Chris Hmielewski announced Friday that the school will add men's and women's indoor and outdoor track and field as a varsity program and will begin competition during the 2013-14 season.
Current men's and women's cross country coach Nate Wolf will also serve as the head coach of the SMSU track and field program.
Hmielewski also announced plans for 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 Public 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 enrollment at SMSU," Hmielewski said in a press release. "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 16 total NCAA Division II sports.
"I am very confidence 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."
SMSU last sponsored men's track and field from 1969 to 1986, then again from 1990 to 1993. SMSU sponsored women's track and field from 1972 to 1986 and from 1990 to 1993.
Wolf was hired as SMSU's cross country coach last June at the same time the school announced it would reinstate men's and women's cross country. The cross country program had previously been disbanded in 1990. Wolf quickly worked to recruit a team that competed in six events during the fall of 2013.
"I am incredibly excited that SMSU is able to make the announcement of adding men's and women's track and field," Wolf said in a press release. "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 nine-lane, double-bend, 400-meter track and will also include a water jump pit and hurdle for the steeplechase and a 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 are to be constructed north of the stadium and will consist of areas for the long/triple jump, pole vault, shot put, discus and javelin.
The SMSU press release stated that the project is expected to begin construction in the spring of 2013, with projected completion set for the fall of 2013.
"We feel fortunate to have a great partner in Marshall Public Schools," 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."
Thirteen schools will sponsor women's track and field in the 16-school NSIC this spring, while 11 schools will sponsor men's track and field.