RENO, NV – Veteran University of Nevada women’s head cross country coach and women’s assistant track & field coach Kirk Elias will be the head coach of the men’s cross country program that will begin competition in the fall.
Elias just completed his 15th season at Nevada will serve as head coach for both Wolf Pack cross country teams in addition to his duties with the track & field team.
“I’m really excited for the men’s cross country team this fall,” Elias said. “It will be an honor to work with the first men’s cross country team to represent Nevada in a quarter century.
I know from the incoming students who have contacted me about trying out, that the cross country athletes in Nevada are hungry for a men’s team. We have 25 individuals at this point who will try out. I expect that number to grow a bit more over the summer. We will form a squad of 12 student-athletes for the season after the tryout.”
It will be great to have the ying and yang combined energy of having a men’s and women’s team at practices and most competitions. Having worked with men’s and women’s teams together in the past, I know these teams can complement each other in terms of the psychology of training and strategy of racing. Coaching this brand new team will be an honor, a challenge, and a real treat.”
Nevada has a proud history when it comes to distance running on the men's side. The Wolf Pack won 11 conference championships within the West Coast Athletic Conference and the Big Sky Conference from 1970 through 1983. Nevada also won a Far Western Conference title and an NCAA College Division championship in 1968.
Elias' Division I coaching experience is extensive, and includes stints at Minnesota, Texas Tech, Arkansas-Little Rock and Nevada. Since arriving at Nevada, Elias has coached 13 All-WAC cross country selections, including eight first-team selections, and two WAC Cross Country Freshman of the Year honorees. Since moving to the Mountain West, the cross country team has seen four all-conference team honors, including a first team, as well as a freshman of the year. The Wolf Pack cross country team posted four consecutive top-three finishes at the WAC Cross Country Championships under Elias' direction, and the track team's distance corps has routinely turned in impressive performances, logging several top-five performances at the conference level since entering the Mountain West. The 2008-09 squad recorded first place finishes in the 1,500-meter, 3,000-meter steeplechase, 5,000-meter and 10,000-meter races at the outdoor championships.
Elias entered the Division I coaching scene in 1985 as an assistant at Minnesota, where he coached All-America and All-Big 10 selection, Gretchen Otto. In eight seasons with the Golden Gophers, Elias coached sprints, hurdles, jumps and multi-events. He also founded a club team for post-collegiate distance runners, where he coached Leslie Seymour who went on to make five World Championships for the USA.
As an assistant at Texas Tech, Elias coached the cross country team to its then-highest finish ever at the NCAA District Championships. He is credited with recruiting and coaching two individual national qualifiers in the 1996-97 season, the university's first women to reach nationals since 1984 in cross country and 1985 in track. Elias' student-athletes set 12 school records during his four seasons with the Red Raiders.
At Arkansas-Little Rock, Elias led the Trojans to four conference cross country titles in 2001 and 2002 - two women's and two men's - the first in the school's history. He also earned four Sunbelt Conference Cross Country Coach of the Year awards during his tenure. Elias' track athletes at UALR were equally accomplished. He coached All-America selections from the men's and women's teams, and saw his 2002-03 and 2003-04 squads earn national All-Academic honors.
Elias is one of just a handful of coaches to lead a team at the high school, NAIA, Division III, Division II, Division I and international levels. Equally important is his wide-range of experience coaching across the sprint, hurdle, jump, multi-events, middle and long distance events.
Elias earned a bachelor’s of science in secondary education with an emphasis in speech and a minor in English from the University of Minnesota in 1978.