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Belling looking to make mark at DWU

Patrick Belling admits to not knowing a lot about the athletes he'll be coaching in cross country and track at Dakota Wesleyan this year. After all, he was just hired on Wednesday as DWU's new head track and head cross country coach. Belling take...

Patrick Belling admits to not knowing a lot about the athletes he'll be coaching in cross country and track at Dakota Wesleyan this year.

After all, he was just hired on Wednesday as DWU's new head track and head cross country coach.

Belling takes over for the departed Paul Ekern as the head cross country coach and for Ray Kuhles as the head track coach. Both resigned their positions within the last month. Ekern coached at the school for 13 years and Kuhles was only at the school for one year.

Belling said he has been contacted by Katie Weavill, a senior runner who is part of both programs. Regardless of the timing, Belling said he's excited to come to Wesleyan and work with a new crop of athletes.

"I'm looking forward to working with everyone up there," said Belling, who is going to try and move to Mitchell as soon as possible. "I want to meet the new athletes and I'm really excited about where both programs can go. It's a great opportunity for me. I just got the phone call a day and a half ago that I got the job."

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Belling, 25, who was a volunteer assistant coach at the University of South Dakota for the past two years, said he applied for the Wesleyan jobs as soon as he saw them advertised online.

"I applied right away, as soon as I saw it," Belling said. "A couple of days after I applied I met with (DWU Athletic Director) Chad Vogel and we had dinner in Omaha. A week after that I came on campus and visited. Now, here I am."

Belling worked with sprinters at USD and also helped coach several relay teams. Belling ran track for USD from 1999-2002 and was a three-time All-American sprinter at the school.

"The majority of the time I worked with the sprinters," Belling said of his time coaching at USD. "I helped coach anybody that was in the 4x1- and 4x4-meter relays, too. I learned from some of the best coaches in Division II in (USD men's head track coach) Dave Gottsleben and (USD women's head track coach) Lucky Huber. A lot of the person and coach I am today is because of those two."

Belling said he's looking forward to the challenge of coaching both cross country and track.

"The biggest difference with being a head coach is the responsibilities that go with it," Belling said. "I'm looking forward to the challenge and I believe I can do it.

"My biggest strength as a coach is that I'm a motivator. Another strength I have is that I'm not afraid to fail. I'm not afraid of making mistakes and of constructive criticism."

As for cross country, Belling said, "It's pretty much the same coaching style as track. I've had more expertise in track, but I've helped out with cross country in the past. I'll be learning from day to day."

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Belling received his bachelor's degree in elementary education from USD in late 2003 and recently completed his masters degree in athletic administration in May.

DWU still hasn't hired an assistant coach for cross country and track.

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