(MSU Billings release)
BILLINGS – Joining the athletics department at Montana State University Billings, Kevin Bjerke has been hired as the first head coach of women’s triathlon announced director of athletics Krista Montague on Wednesday.
“We were fortunate to attract someone of Kevin’s quality to tackle the task of starting a new program,” Montague said. “Coach Bjerke clearly communicated his commitment to recruiting high quality students as well as his priority of mentoring the young women on how to lead balanced lives. We are happy to welcome Coach Bjerke to MSUB to help build and guide our newest sport, women’s triathlon. His 10 years of experience as a head NCAA II cross county and track coach is impressive and we have no doubt he will be able to hit the ground running once he gets to Billings.”
Bjerke will begin working to recruit student athletes for the inaugural season of women’s triathlon, set to begin competition in the fall of 2019. Deemed an NCAA Emerging Sport for Women in 2014, triathlon has a 10-year window to demonstrate sustainability as an NCAA sport option. USA Triathlon is more than halfway to its goal of reaching 40 schools by 2024 — and its momentum is growing, with eight new programs announced since mid-October.
Bjerke will be at the forefront of the effort to grow the sport in the city of Billings and he brings more than 10 years of Division II coaching experience to MSUB.
Prior to joining the coaching staff at MSUB, Bjerke served as head track & field and cross country coach at Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota for six seasons. While at Northern State, athletes under Bjerke’s guidance broke 47 school records and 20 student athletes were named All-Americans. Bjerke was promoted to head track and field coach in 2012 after four seasons as full-time assistant coach.
“I am very excited and grateful to be entering the triathlon coaching world as it enters such a unique moment of expansion into the NCAA,” commented Bjerke. “This is a tremendous opportunity for not only me, but also for young women who are passionate about pursuing this thrilling endurance sport at the collegiate level. I would like to thank athletic director Krista Montague and the search committee chair Dr. Scott Harris for entrusting me to develop this program from scratch, along with Krista and Chancellor Edelman’s vision for bringing the sport of triathlon to the MSU Billings campus.”
Bjerke earned a master’s degree in sport science from South Dakota State University in 2008, where he was a graduate assistant coach in track & field and cross country. In 2005, he completed his bachelor’s degree in health promotion at South Dakota State.
Bjerke is a USA Triathlon certified coach and has additional certifications including the USTFCCCA Endurance Event Specialist and USTFCCCA NCAA Strength and Conditioning Coach. Bjerke is an avid triathlete and helped to host the Wolves Triathlon multiple years at Northern State, which brought 50-100 local and regional triathletes to the city to compete on an annual basis. He was also responsible as faculty advisor for developing and implementing a six-week training program for the public, which introduced the sport of triathlon to those wishing to participate for the first time.