One of the longest-tenured coaches in the history of North Dakota Athletics, the 2012-13 season marks the 28th year of Dick Clay's distinguished coaching career at UND.
Clay serves as men's and women's cross country head coach, as well as men's and women's track and field associate head coach. Clay had doubled as UND's head women's track and field coach from 1985 to 2011, as well as interim men's head track and field coach in 2011, until a restructuring of the program's coaching staff.
In 2012, Clay guided UND cross country through its first season of Big Sky Conference membership. UND's women's team placed seventh and the men's team eighth, and both squads got their first taste of a Division I championship at the 2012 NCAA Midwest Regional in Springfield, Mo. UND's women's and men's teams placed 22nd and 24th, respectively, at regionals to finish ahead of programs such as Nebraska and Creighton.
On Sept. 10, 2012, UND made school history when the men's team earned its first-ever appearance in the Division I regional rankings. That week, UND was ranked No. 14 in the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) NCAA Midwest Region rankings.
The 2011 cross country season was highlighted by outstanding athletic and academic accomplishments. Serving as host of the of the Great West Conference Championship, UND placed second despite being without the services of 2010 GWC Athlete of the Year Lindsay Anderson, who redshirted the season. In Anderson's absence, senior Emily Emerson led the way with a fifth-place finish and all-conference first team honors. She was joined on the All-GWC team by freshman Erin Wysocki, who placed sixth and claimed GWC Freshman of the Year honors.
On the men's side, senior Tyler Rose capped his distinguished career by earning All-GWC Second Team accolades with an eighth-place finish. Following the year, Rose was named the GWC Student-Athlete Advisory Committee's Sportsmanship Award.
In the classroom, five student-athletes garnered academic all-conference honors, three from the men's team and two from the women's team.
In 2011, Clay mentored several track and field record-breakers, conference champions, and conference scorers.
On the women's side, senior Lindsay Anderson won GWC indoor titles in the 3,000 and 5,000-meters, setting a conference record in the latter, and was named GWC Indoor Female Athlete of the Year. UND student-athletes who set school records included Christine Weinreich (hammer throw, indoor weight throw), Jessica Butler (100-meter hurdles, 60-meter hurdles), the 800-meter relay team of Brittney Bolstad, Paige Kuplic, Mikaela Hirst and Sarah Fegley, and the distance medley relay team of Anderson, Megan Gray, Emily Emerson and Savana Weller.
On the men's side, senior Josh LaBlanc broke the oldest record in school history when he ran the 10,000-meters in 30:05.24, toppling the previous record set by Arjan Gelling in 1968 by 25 seconds. He also set the school record in the 5K and the conference record in the 3,000-meters 8:31.15 at the GWC Indoor Championship. Following the season, LaBlanc was named the 2010-11 GWC Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
UND's cross country teams enjoyed a superlative 2010 season, highlighted by junior season Lindsay Anderson winning the Great West Conference Cross Country championship and earning GWC Most Valuable Runner honors. Anderson and teammate Emily Emerson were both named to the All-GWC first team after leading the Sioux to a third-place team finish. On the men's side, UND placed sixth at the conference meet.
The 2010 track and field season was a memorable one for the Sioux women, as Clay's student-athletes set numerous school records. At the GWC Indoor Championship, junior Jessica Butler won the 60-meter hurdles with a school-record time of 8.98 seconds and led the Sioux to a third-place finish.At the GWC Outdoor Championship, Brenny was the runner-up in both the 5,000-meter and 10,000-meter runs.
Also during the outdoor season, sophomore Emily Emerson was twice named GWC Athlete of the Week. UND's quartet of Mikaela Hirst, Paige Kuplic, Cheri Boyer and Taryn Anderson broke an 11-year old record in the 800-meter relay at the Coastal Carolina Shamrock Invitational. Several Sioux athletes also recorded times, throws and jumps that have cracked UND's all-time top-10 lists.
Clay's women's cross country team earned team and individual runner-up honors at the 2009 Great West Conference Championship; the Sioux finished second in the team standings while senior Brittany Brenny earned her second straight all-conference first team nod by taking second in the individual standings. Brenny was joined on the all-conference team by teammate and second-team selection Katherine Enabnit.
In 2008-09, UND's first as a Division I program, Clay guided the Sioux to a third-place finish at the inaugural Great West Conference Cross Country Championship, where three of his runners earned all-conference honors: Brenny (first team), Mandy Gefroh (first) and Emily Emerson (second).
Clay's track and field team finished fourth at the 2009 GWC Outdoor Championship, highlighted by individual conference titles by Jessica Clausnitzer (pole vault) and Kristi Dahlheimer (3,000-meter steeplechase). The Sioux also placed fourth at the 2009 GWC Indoor Championship, led by a pair of individual titles from Clausnitzer, a two-time Division II All-American, in the 60-meter hurdles and the pole vault.
A hallmark of Clay's coaching career at UND has been academic succes, and the 2009-10 was as successful as any. Clay's women's track and field team boasted the sixth-highest grade point average (3.5) in Division I last season, earning the team 2010 Division I Women's All-Academic Track and Field Team honors by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).
Additionally, senior Kristi Dahlheimer earned a prestigious NCAA postgraduate scholarship and was named a 2009-10 ESPN the Magazine Academic All-American.
The Previous season, Clay's track and field squad was named a 2009 Division I Women's All-Academic Track and Field Team by the USTFCCCA, ranking 12th among 130 teams with a 3.44 grade point average.
Brenny and Dahlheimer were each named to the 2009 ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District Women's Track and Field/Cross Country team.
Nine track and field student-athletes were named to 2009 Great West Conference Winter/Spring All-Academic team, the most of any Sioux team, and two more earned 2008 Fall Academic All-Great West Conference accolades.
In the 28 years Clay has been at UND, he has established a program that is respected for its success at both the conference national levels. Among his coaching honors:
- NCAA DII Indoor Track and Field Coach of the Year (2000)
- NCAA North Central Region Indoor Track and Field Coach of the Year (2000)
- NCAA North Central Region Cross Country Coach of the Year (1999, 1994, 1991)
- NCC Outdoor Track and Field Coach of the Year (2007, 1988
- NCC Indoor Track and Field Coach of the Year (2000)
- NCC Cross Country Coach of the Year (2006, 2001, 1994, 1992)
In May 2008, Clay coached Heidi Evans to a national title in the 1,500-meter run at the Division II national championships. With the title, Evans became the second individual women's track & field national champion in UND school history and the first Fighting Sioux women's outdoor champion. The only other UND women's track national individual title came in 1994, when former UND runner Marie Crep won an NCAA national title in the 800-meter run in the NCAA Division II Indoor Championships.
Clay served on the NCAA Track and Field Subcommittee and the NCAA Track and Cross Country Rules Committee from 1999-2004. He is a past president of the NCAA Division II Track Coaches Association and served on the U.S. Track Coaches Association Board of Directors from 1995-1997. Clay was also the coordinator of the NCAA Division II Track and Field Hall of Fame from 1996-2003.
A certified USATF Level I Track and Field Coach, Clay was honored by his peers when he was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the NCAA Cross Country Coaches Association in 1992 and again in 2007. In 1996, Clay received the Distinguished Service Award from the NCAA Track Coaches Association.
Under Clay's leadership, UND won the 1992, 1994, 1996, 2001 and 2006 North Central Conference Cross Country Championship and the 1994 North Central Region title. The 2000 cross country team placed second in the NCAA national championships. The runner-up finish was the highest for a UND cross country team.
From 1991 to 2007, the Sioux made 12 team appearances in the NCAA national cross country meet. The Sioux posted team finishes of fifth place or higher in the NCAA National meet seven times including five fourth-place finishes. In track and field, UND's highest team finishes came in 1993 and 1994 when the Sioux placed fifth and sixth respectively at the NCAA Indoor National Track & Field Championships. Clay has coached Sioux track and cross country athletes to over 80 individual All-America finishes since 1987.
Clay came to UND from Central Missouri State where he served two years as head coach of the men's and women's cross country team and the women's track team. In 1984, Clay's Central Missouri State track and field team claimed a 10th-place finish at the NCAA Championships.
A native of Dawson, Minn., Clay graduated from St. Cloud State in 1982 with a bachelor's degree in physical education. He went on to earn a master's degree from St. Cloud State in 1983. A four-year track and cross country letterwinner and team captain for the Huskies, Clay qualified for the Division II cross country championships in 1978, 1979, and 1980.