zack kughn

Montana Tech made former Montana State Bobcat Zack Kughn the Orediggers' first cross-country coach last December. Kughn will coach track and field at Tech.

BUTTE — Montana Tech has added track and field to the list of varsity sports offered at the university, with the first action slated for the spring of 2022, according to a Thursday release from the university.

The addition of both men's and women's track and field programs has come after a successful inaugural cross country season. The new programs will give cross country runners the chance to compete throughout the year, and will also expand the opportunity for more student-athletes to compete at the collegiate level.

“We are excited to announce this addition coming off the heels of a very successful first cross country season,” said Matt Stepan, athletic director at Montana Tech. “Coach Kughn has established a great culture inside of our running program and we believe it is time to take the next step..."

The new programs will be under the direction of head coach Zach Kughn, who coached the cross-country team last season. Recruiting for the Spring 2022 season has already begun.

The Orediggers' track and field teams will compete in the NAIA's Frontier Conference, which will increase the number of athletic programs offered at the university from eight to 12.

“This is an exciting time for our program and institution,” Kughn said. “I’m extremely grateful for the support of our administration amongst these difficult times for continuing to invest in our program and our student-athletes. I’m honored to have the privilege of building this program.”

The Butte Public School District and Montana Tech are in discussion about the use of Charlie Merrifield Track for the upcoming season.

While the addition of the programs — which will include indoor and outdoor competition — will bring new opportunities for student-athletes interested in Montana Tech, Stepan said Butte is already a great running community.

“Butte is a great track and field community with a storied history of success,” Stepan said. “We’re looking forward to building on to that legacy while providing a great opportunity for many of our local athletes to compete at the collegiate level right here in their hometown. We are grateful to the Butte School District for their support and their willingness to partner with the Diggers!”

Blake Fussell covers sports in and around Butte. Follow Blake on Twitter @blake_fussell

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