Four-time national champion, 17-time National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics All-American and nine-time Great Plains Athletic Conference champion has a nice ring to it. New track and field throwing coach, Zach Lurz, brings that caliber of talent to the Dakota Wesleyan University track and field team.
Lurz is a native of Rapid City, S.D., but moved around western Nebraska throughout his childhood. He attended Chadron High School for his first three years and finished his senior year at Torrington High School in Torrington, Wyo. Ever since his junior year of high school at Chadron, Lurz knew he wanted continue his throwing career.
"As I grew older, my skillset pushed me towards throwing," Lurz said. "By my senior year, Concordia sent me a letter and I went up there. I played football for them my freshman year and it didn't really sink in for me, but I stuck with track and it has been a good ride for me so far."
That ride included five years with the navy and white Bulldogs of Concordia University in Seward, Neb. After his career at Concordia, Lurz owns the school records for indoor and outdoor shot put and is second on the school's all-time lists in weight throw, hammer throw and discus. He was also a member of the 2015 NAIA national championship team and a member of three GPAC championship teams.
The ride is not over for the 2015 NAIA Outdoor National Championships Most Valuable Performer as he begins what he hopes to be a long career of coaching. As he plans to pursue his master's degree in the near future, Lurz also aims to be master certified in the throws by the time he is 30-years old.
"There are not a lot of people in the country that are at that level, so the sooner I do it, the better it is in getting the prestige of our team to the next level," Lurz said.
His drive and determination for bettering himself and those around him does not go unnoticed. Dakota Wesleyan University track and field head coach, Derik Fossum, sees potential in Lurz and understands how much respect he brings to the program from not only around the region, but across the country.
"He is truly passionate about the sport and, in my opinion, he brings us some additional credibility," Fossum commented. "He is well-known and respected in the GPAC and NAIA. I think a lot of people are excited to see him grow into the coaching role, myself included."
It is understandable why there is so much hype revolving around the hire of Lurz. In his senior season, he finished with five All-American awards, an indoor shot put national championship, three GPAC titles, the Lincoln Journal Star Co-Male State College Athlete of the Year and the USTFCCCA NAIA National and Midwest Region Men's Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year.
Lurz would be the first to tell you that his resume in coaching might not be the biggest, but he is not letting that deter him away from being the best coach he can be for the DWU track and field team.
"I'm so young right now that I don't have much of a resume in coaching," he said. "But the one thing that I have is my athletic career. I was never great at anything, but I was good at a lot of things. I understand the ins-and-outs of throwing better than a lot of other people my age."
With eight returners coming back to throw for the Tigers, one transfer and three incoming freshmen, Lurz is excited for the season to get underway and begin working with the throwers. Although, he mentions that his age might be the biggest obstacle in his first year as a coach.
"Some of these kids that I am coaching are 20, 21 or 22-years old and I am their age," Lurz said. "Getting them to not look at me as another athlete and gaining their respect is one of the challenges as a young coach."
However, with the background that Lurz brings to the table, it is hard to argue that he will have anything but respect from his athletes. Fossum agrees that his newest coach will have all ears keen on listening to everything that Lurz instructs his athletes on.
"He has a keen eye for technical deficiencies and knows how to correct them and teach proper technique," Fossum said. "As with any new coach transitioning from being on the athlete side of the operation there will be a learning curve, but he is adapting to his new role really well. He has already made positive changes for our program and as he takes on recruiting responsibilities and program management responsibilities, I have no doubt he will excel."
Lurz believes that his age will not be something that will cause him problems. He believes it will better his relationship with the athletes. If one thing is for certain, he will bleed a different blue, but bring the same amount of intensity to the field.