BLOOMFIELD — A career of success and accolades in track and field has led Mario Sategña to one of the biggest and most prestigious coaching jobs in the country.
The University of Texas announced on Thursday that Sategña, a 1991 graduate of Bloomfield High School, will be the head coach of the newly formed men's and women's combined track and field team. The announcement was made by men's athletic director DeLoss Dodds and women's athletic director Chris Plonsky.
"I'm extremely excited and truly humbled to be the head coach of the first combined men's and women's track and field program at The University of Texas," Sategña said in a prepared statement.
He said he hopes to "build on the strengths of both teams and improve what already are two of the best programs in the nation."
Sategña has served as an assistant coach on the men's team at Texas since the 2003-04 season. He was named a Division I National Men's Assistant Coach of the Year in 2012 and has coached athletes to 11 NCAA titles. He has also coached 23 athletes to win 65 All-American awards, including Trey Hardee, who he coached to an Olympic silver medal in the decathlon in 2012. Sategña has also coached Hardee to two gold medals at the world championships, and Hardee still holds the NCAA decathlon record.
"I'm happy for all the current student-athletes and the future ones," Hardee said in a prepared statement. "As an alumnus, it's outstanding to have Mario representing the men's and women's teams moving forward. He has a great track record and has led many of our athletes to NCAA titles. That number will multiply in the years to come. ... Under Mario's guidance, the sky is the limit."
Former Longhorn athletes on both the men's and women's team expressed their excitement over the announcement on Thursday.
"He is an unbelievable coach who loves Texas and will do a great job," said Sanya Richards-Ross, a four-time Olympic gold medalist and five-time NCAA champion on the Texas women's team, in a prepared statement. "I couldn't be more excited about the future of both our women's and men's programs."
Mario Sategña's parents, Phil and Jeanne Sategña, still live in San Juan County and were overjoyed with the news.
"Jeanne and I are ecstatic. How do you put it into words? It is overwhelming for the family and beyond unbelievable," said Phil Sategña, a former track and field coach at Bloomfield High School. "For him to get the head position for both the men's and women's team is unprecedented. Texas has never had a combined program in swimming or track or anything. For them to make that decision and for Mario to be the person they chose, it makes us very emotional."
Phil Sategña said his son kept the family notified throughout the interview process.
"Mario has turned down head college positions at other universities to stay at Texas. He loves it there," said Phil Sategña. "He always hoped to fall into the men's coaching job at Texas because he loves the program and administration. He has gone through at least four different interview processes where he had to present what he could do with the men's and women's program. ... My wife and I have been praying, and when we found out Wednesday afternoon they had offered him the job, we still couldn't tell anybody because Texas wanted to make the announcement on its website. We have been on pins and needles waiting."
Dodds said Mario Sategña's vision for the Longhorn program was exactly what the school was looking for.
"Mario is a great fit as we make the transition to combine our men's and women's programs," Dodds said in a prepared statement. "This is not a hire which was made in a couple of days. We've known the opportunity to combine the two programs has existed for some time. We compiled a comprehensive list of potential candidates and after considering them all, are convinced Mario is the best choice for The University of Texas. He presented a great plan for the program going forward, is clearly very excited about the opportunity and is the right person for the job.
Dodds went on to call Mario Sategña "one of the most accomplished coaches in the nation."
After graduating Bloomfield High, Mario Sategña attended Louisiana State University, where he was a three-time All-America decathlete and set the school record in the event when he won a NCAA title in 1995.
He coached at Albuquerque Academy during the 1997 and 1998 seasons before taking an assistant job at Wichita State University for the 1998-99 season. After that, he coached at the University of Minnesota as an assistant from 1999-2003.
Through all of the success, Jeanne and Phil Sategña have followed every step of the way.
"I can't fathom the responsibility that is going to fall on him with coaching both the men and women. Those are two very successful programs. To know it is your son doing it, that is pretty special," Phil Sategña said.John Livingston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 505-564-4648. Follow him on Twitter @jlivi2.