St. Olaf College Sports Information Department
NORTHFIELD, Minn. - The St. Olaf College Athletic Department and Athletic Director Ryan Bowles announced the hiring of Patti Laufenberg as St. Olaf's head women's track and field coach on Thursday.
Laufenberg becomes the seventh head coach in the history of the program and comes to St. Olaf after spending the past six seasons at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, most recently serving as the associate head women's track and field coach while working primarily with the sprints. She also was the coordinator for athletic communications and was the advisor for the Pioneer Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (PSAAC).
"We are thrilled to have Patti joining our team," Bowles said. "It was clear from the start that she shares the same values and goals as our St. Olaf community. Our women's track and field program has a tremendous history and I know Patti will continue to build on the legacy of all of the women that have been a part of our program."
During Laufenberg's six seasons at UW-Platteville, the women's program produced two national champions, eight All-Americans, 31 individual national qualifiers plus one national-qualifying relay, 14 conference champions, and 50 all-conference or honorable mention all-conference individuals/relays while competing in the highly-competitive Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The Pioneers' women's program posted top-30 national finishes both indoors (t-27th) and outdoors (t-26th) in 2021-22 and was in the top 20 in both meets in 2016-17, including finishing 10th indoors that year.
"Becoming the head women's track and field coach at St. Olaf makes me absolutely thrilled for the future," Laufenberg said. "I was instantly drawn to the caring community and the beautiful landscape of campus. It will be a great adventure to be at the helm of leading women to be empowered, confident, and strong members of society through track and field at St. Olaf. I'm so grateful to my family, friends, and all the acquaintances along the way that continue to encourage and shape me. I look forward to diving into this amazing opportunity!"
In 2021-22, two student-athletes from Laufenberg's sprints group at UW-Platteville qualified for nationals. Gwen Orr qualified in two events (60-meter dash, 200-meter dash) indoors and two events (100-meter dash, 200-meter dash) outdoors, while Cade VanHout competed in the 60-meter dash indoors and the 100-meter dash and 200-meter dash outdoors. Orr holds six school records at UW-Platteville, while VanHout was an indoor All-American in the 60-meter dash (seventh) and an outdoor All-American in the 100-meter dash (sixth).
A former NCAA Division III student-athlete at Carthage College, Laufenberg was a six-time College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW) conference champion during her four-year career while competing in the sprints, relays (4x100, 4x400, DMR), and triple jump. She qualified for both the 2012 and 2013 NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championships before earning All-American honors (seventh indoors, sixth outdoors) in the 400-meter dash at both national meets as a senior in 2014. Laufenberg remains Carthage's school-record holder in the outdoor 400-meter dash (55.82) and ran on the school-record-holding DMR (12:17.88).
Laufenberg graduated from Carthage in 2014 with a bachelor of arts in exercise and sports science and a minor in Spanish and went on to earn a master of arts in teaching in elementary education from Converse College in 2016. While at Converse, she was a graduate assistant for the track and field and cross country teams, working with the sprints, middle distance and distance, and jumps.
In June 2019, Laufenberg attended the NCAA Women Coaches Academy, sponsored by WeCOACH, which included topics on leadership, social media engagement, diversity and inclusion in sports, and the role of Title IX and gender bias in sport for female collegiate coaches across all sports and all divisions of the NCAA. She also completed U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) courses in strength and conditioning, sports psychology for the track and field coach, and sport science for speed/power events.
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