HELENA — Zander Mozer couldn’t hide his excitement.
When his former track and field coach at Helena High, Tony Arntson, was named the head track and field coach at the University of Providence in Great Falls on June 24, Mozer immediately started brainstorming, a large smile across his face all the while.
“Oh my goodness, immediately when I saw that I blew up. I was grinning ear to ear, I told my parents, everyone was super excited because I felt for me, he was definitely the reason I did what I did in high school,” said Mozer, who set two program records and a Montana all-class state record his senior season at Helena High. “Even in high school, he was coaching football, so he had other obligations, as well, but now he’s full track and I really think the sky is the limit for the two of us.”
Mozer officially signed with the University of Providence track and field team last week, reuniting with Arntson barely two years removed from a Class AA state track and field meet in Butte that saw Mozer break school records in the 200-meter dash (21.74) and 400 (47.52), with the latter setting a new Montana all-class state record. Mozer became only the second Montana male athlete to run a sub-48 in the open 400.
Helena High finished third at the state meet that spring.
Now the duo pair up in Arntson’s first year at the helm in Great Falls, where Mozer believes instant success can help bolster the entire program.
“I really think it’s just going to be trusting his coaching process. … He was my coach for four years, everything he said got me to where I wanted to be and all of my dreams came true with him as my coach, so I think as long as we trust the process, with him especially, there’s nothing that can go wrong,” Mozer said. “The more wins we get as a team and individuals, that will bring more attention to the school, and kids won’t just think it’s a good school for academics, but I think I can come here, compete at the NAIA level. I don’t think people understand, at a national level, the NAIA is very competitive. A lot of people have actually been asking, ‘Why not go Division I?’ and it’s all about the coach for me. Like I said, in track, a time is a time is a time. I’m ready to compete, ready to put up fast times and hopefully we can get a couple nationals under our belt.”
Mozer moves back to Montana after competing at Spokane Falls Community College, where he tore his hamstring before the indoor season this past year, though he’s ready to chase down faster personal-best times in all three sprints (100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes), while also competing in the long jump.
A Criminology major, Mozer says he’s ready to be the unofficial spokesman for Arntson’s Argos, a sort of payback for putting his trust in the sprinter.
“Right when I signed he came over grinning ear to ear and said, ‘You just made my day,’ and I was like, ‘Hopefully I can make your year.’ Overall I think we’re both super excited to be back together,” Mozer said. “I’m definitely there to get my education first, student-athlete, there’s a reason the word student comes first, but then comes the athlete side and I’m beyond hungry in every aspect. I really think if I put out a good year, that will bring kids from, not only Montana, but all around.”