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New track coach Matthew Rosado plans to establish consistent culture for DWU

Rosado took the job in December, previously coaching at two NAIA schools

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Dakota Wesleyan University's cross country and track and field head coach Matthew Rosado instructs sprinter Macy Sternhagen during practice on Wednesday, Jan. 26 at the DWU/Avera Sports and Wellness Complex in Mitchell.
Branden Hull / Republic

MITCHELL — In his first month on the job, Matthew Rosado now has the reins of the Dakota Wesleyan University cross country and track and field programs.

Rosado, who was most recently coaching at Roosevelt University in Chicago for a year and coached at Calumet College of St. Joseph from 2018-2020, said he has found a coaching position at DWU that aligns with his own vision for how a program should be built when he met with DWU Athletic Director Jon Hart and was hired in December.

After speaking with Hart during the interview process and coming to see Dakota Wesleyan’s campus, Rosado said DWU had all the pieces he had been looking for in a coaching position.

“In our conversation, he told me we would be looking to build this gradually so that we can focus on retaining most of our kids,” Rosado said. “Doing that instead of trying to bring a mass amount of kids every year, allows us to build lasting success, retention and recruitment. That was something I hadn’t heard in other job offers and I appreciated it.”

Rosado’s main focus when looking for his next position was to be with a program that had the feeling of a family. He arrived in Mitchell on Dec. 29 and said in his first two weeks, he spent a lot of time observing a program that was already in the middle of its indoor season under associate head coach Chris Aschemann, who had served as the team's interim coach.

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With that in mind, Rosado said he's focused on building a program that has the right culture and identity, rather than national success at the current time.

“I think that being a strong team and enjoying each other is going to be at the forefront," Rosado said. "We’re going to put the national chase on the backburner to focus on creating a strong environment and then in turn, that will help create those national championship runs and great performances."

Rosado was only at Roosevelt for four months in 2021 until he left. In the midst of the pandemic, he said it was difficult to create the type of atmosphere he wanted with the state of Illinois having different restrictions and regulations due to COVID-19.

He said the situation was manageable, but for the most part, regulations within the university became what Rosado called, “too strenuous.” He said the team couldn’t work out together as a large group and they couldn’t perform any activity within the team's facility without a mask.

“The practice times were not ideal for a college student, especially one that was working,” Rosado said. “It was either five in the morning or nine at night and the facilities on campus wanted us to be masked throughout all activities. It was something I understood, but it’s hard to tell your distance runner, because it's cold outside, to run 10 miles on the treadmill with his or her mask on.”

At that point, members of the cross country and track and field team preferred to run or train at home or at local gyms because the regulations weren’t as strict. Rosado said various factors involved made the coaching situation and he didn’t see a way he could keep the chemistry and unity of his team together the way he wanted.

He eventually talked with a consulting firm that connects coaches with athletic programs, which put Rosado on DWU's radar and led to his hire in Mitchell.

“In the interview, (Hart) really sold me the dream of everything they have here and how much of a great support system there is within the program,” Rosado said. “It’s already an indoor facility here and they have a good partnership with the high school for the outdoor facility, so it had all the pieces that I had been looking for.”

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Rosado has noticed his team has some strong talent, led by the team's throwers. Caden Milmine, a senior shot put athlete, reached the NAIA A Standard for the national indoor meet earlier in the month, becoming the third DWU thrower this season to reach a national standard, joined by DWU women Katlyn Briggs and Morgan Taft, who have each set NAIA A Standards in the weight throw.

He referred to his throwing group as the “money group” in his first year, applauding the job Aschemann has done with the group prior to his arrival. Milmine was fifth at the NAIA national indoor meet in 2021.

"The throws group is very strong and we’ll ride them to our national meets,” Rosado said. “Other athletes that stick out are Lia Guigui, who’s been a standout and a national qualifier in high jump. She’s a real professional at what she does and others can learn from her. … On the men’s side, one of our freshmen Ryley Johansen is just so talented. He’s going to be the future of our jumps and our sprints program. I think I can get him to a national meet this year.”

Rosado said he has other budding stars but Johansen, a 6-foot-7 freshman from Mitchell, and Guigui, a senior from Rapid City, will very important to what DWU hopes to establish this season.

Branden is a sports reporter that graduated from Purdue University Northwest with a bachelor's degree in communications and a focus in journalism. He joined the Mitchell Republic in June 2021 and covers prep and collegiate athletics. He was also the lead on the Mitchell Republic Full-Court Press, providing a weekly web-exclusive look at high school basketball throughout all of South Dakota. Branden can be reached at bhull@mitchellrepublic.com and found on Twitter at @bhullreports.
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