Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein to join GVSU Track & Field/Cross Country Coaching Staff

Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein to join GVSU Track & Field/Cross Country Coaching Staff

Provided by Grand Valley State University Athletics

Allendale, Mich. - Grand Valley State head track & field/cross county coach Jerry Balltes announced today the addition of Olympian and West Michigan native Dathan Ritzenhein to the Laker coaching staff. Ritzenhein, who will assist with all aspects of the cross country and distance group in track, will join the Laker staff during the 2014 summer.

"We are thrilled to have Dathan joining the Laker track and field/cross country program as a member of our coaching staff," said Jerry Baltes, head track & field coach at GVSU. "Dathan has had success every step of the way during his running career and I am confident he will bring the same passion and work ethic to our program as we continue to strive for excellence on a day-to-day basis with our student athletes. I am looking forward to having Dathan and his family back in West Michigan assisting our program and supporting the entire Grand Rapids running community."

Dathan began his outstanding running career at Rockford High School where he still holds state records in the 1,600 meter run (4:05.9), 3,200 meter run (8:41.1), and 5k cross country (14:10.4). He was also a two-time high school national champion in cross country winning the Footlocker Cross Country Championships in 1999 and 2000. Dathan attended college at the University of Colorado where he continued his success by winning the 2003 NCAA DI Cross Country National Championship.

As a Nike sponsored athlete, Dathan has continued to be one of the most successful American distance runners in history winning 3 USATF Cross Country titles, setting the American Record for 5,000 meters in 12:56.27, and making 3 Olympic Teams (10,000m - 2004, Marathon - 2008, 10,000m - 2012). Dathan's focus has been on the Marathon distance in which his current personal best is 2:07.47.

"I am excited to be joining the staff at Grand Valley State," said Ritzenhein. "Born and raised in the Grand Rapids area, it has always been my dream to get back to West Michigan. I have watched as Grand Valley State, under Jerry's guidance, has become one of the top track and field and cross country programs in the country. I hope to bring to the program the same energy and excitement that I have poured into my own training and racing career and push them to the next level," added Ritzenhein.

The full press release can be found at http://www.gvsulakers.com/sports/c-track/spec-rel/050914aaa.html