FLAGSTAFF, Ariz., October 12, 2023 – HOKA Northern Arizona Elite announced today that the team has hired Jack Mullaney as its new head coach. Mullaney, the assistant coach at the University of Portland since 2017, will begin immediately—taking over a 20-athlete roster that includes reigning U.S. steeplechase champion Krissy Gear, reigning U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon champion Aliphine Tuliamuk and four-time South African national record holder Adriaan Wildschutt.
During his time at Portland, Mullaney helped lead the men to two podium finishes at the NCAA Cross Country Championships and the women to their highest-ever finish in program history.
Mullaney said there were multiple reasons he wanted to move to Flagstaff and work with HOKA NAZ Elite.
“NAZ Elite has been a story of steady growth since its inception in 2014, and I’m excited to play a role in the future of the team,” Mullaney said. “Beyond being incredible athletes and coaches, NAZ Elite is comprised of great people. That was important to me in pursuing this position, and I’m eager to connect with the team and earn their trust.”
Founded in 2014 by the husband and wife team of Ben and Jen Rosario, NAZ Elite athletes won two USATF national titles in the group’s inaugural year before signing a title sponsorship with HOKA in 2015. One year later, HOKA NAZ Elite athletes produced five top-seven finishes at the U.S. Olympic Trials, including fourth-place efforts in both the men’s and women’s 10,000 meters. Four years later, Aliphine Tuliamuk won the women’s race at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials—Marathon, with Stephanie Bruce in sixth and Kellyn Taylor in eighth. In 2021 the team made a concerted effort to sign more track-focused athletes and the commitment paid off in 2022 when the new roster additions set team records at every event from 1500 to 10,000 meters. With less than a year to go until the Paris Olympic Games, the team is expected to produce multiple Olympians at a variety of distances.
NAZ Elite co-founder and executive director, Ben Rosario, said he believes Mullaney is the right choice for both the short and the long term and that he will take the team to the very highest level possible in global distance running.
“The search for a new head coach was an organic process that involved a tremendous amount of athlete feedback along the way,” Rosario said. “Eventually it became clear that we needed a forward-thinking coach that could connect with the modern athlete, was passionate about the latest and greatest training methodologies and excited about collaborating with the rest of the coaching staff. That person was Jack Mullaney.”
Mullaney will work closely with NAZ Elite assistant coach Jenna Wrieden—who has served as the team’s interim head coach since July 10, to ensure a smooth transition for the athletes. The first Olympic qualifying event for the team will be the U.S. Olympic Team Trials—Marathon where several NAZ Elite athletes are expected to compete.
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