Weekly #7: Wolverines to Play Host to Silverston Invitational on Saturday
Mohamad Saatara is in his third season (2011-13) as an assistant coach for the University of Michigan men's track and field team, where he oversees all field events, specializing in the throwing events.
Overall, he has helped produce 10 NCAA East Region qualifiers and six NCAA Championship participants. In Saatara's three seasons, Michigan's field event athletes recorded 20 marks which rank in the top 10 of U-M's all-time performance list in various events.
Most notably, under Saatara's direction, five new school records were set during the 2013 season. Junior/sophomore Cody Riffle set new standards in the indoor (19.25 meters, 63-2) and outdoor (18.8 meters, 61-3.5) shot put. Senior/junior Ethan Dennis set a new weight throw record (21.20 meters, 69-6.75) and improved upon his own hammer throw record (64.98 meters, 213-2), which he set in 2012. At the Big Ten Outdoor Championships, Saatara helped decathlete Kurt Reichenbach finish third with a school-record setting total of 7,412 points, and become the first decathlete to advance to the NCAA Championships since 2010.
During the 2013 indoor season, Dennis and Riffle each earned All-America second team accolades. At the NCAA Outdoor Championships, Riffle earned his second All-America second team citation, while Dennis and Reichenbach each secured honorable mention recognition.
In 2012, Saatara helped guide Dennis to All-America second team honors at the NCAA Indoor Championships in the weight throw and All-Big Ten second team recognition in the hammer throw at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships. Dennis improved his hammer throw mark by more than 14 inches from his redshirt-freshman season, to earn the team's Most Improved Athlete award.
During his first season in Ann Arbor (2011), Saatara molded several freshmen into impact performers in the field. Dennis (35-lb. weight throw) and Riffle (shot put) both etched their names into the U-M record books in their first competitive seasons as freshmen, as did high jumper Bradley James and Reichenbach. Riffle, James, and Dennis each qualified for the 2011 NCAA East Region Preliminary Rounds, along with pole vaulters Jack Greenlee and Austin DeWildt. A tenacious recruiter, Saatara also signed the nation's top prep hammer thrower in Brad Bolton (El Toro, Calif.) and two-time MHSAA state champion Derek Sievers (Byron Center, Mich.) during his first season.
Saatara (pronounced sah-TAR-uh) spent the previous eight seasons at Northern Arizona University. During that span, he helped guide the Lumberjacks to 12 Big Sky Conference men's and women's team championships. He has coached more than 20 Big Sky individual champions and guided more than 30 student-athletes to the NCAA Regional Championships. In 2009, Saatara coached four Big Sky champions -- Shelby McCray (women's discus), Javier Villarreal (men's shot put), Curtis Durocher (men's hammer) and Andres Rossini (men's discus).
In the summer of 2008, three of Saatara's athletes competed at the Olympic Games in Beijing. Amin Nikfar, a volunteer assistant at Northern Arizona who trained under Saatara for two years, set the Iranian national outdoor record and qualified for the shot put. Former student-athlete Georgina Toth qualified in the hammer throw, and Zara Northover (Jamaica) made it to Beijing to compete in the shot put.
Some of his additional prominent athletes include Jeremy Hoff, a former walk-on who represented Northern Arizona at two consecutive NCAA Outdoor National Championships in 2003 and 2004; Karim Chester, an All-American in the weight throw; and Dana Posey, who currently holds the UNA school record for the hammer throw. At the NCAA Division II level, Saatara guided Nicole Duncan to national titles in the 100m, 200m and long jump.
An avid clinician, he has coached at the Ironwood throws camp in Spokane, Wash., and in 2009, he was also invited to the USATF Podium clinic in Las Vegas. He has presented at the 2008 USATF Super Clinic, held in conjunction with the USATF Olympic Trials, the Arizona Track Coaches Association, and the National Throws Coaches Association. He also organized the NAU Track and Field Coaching Seminars.
Saatara came to NAU after a stint at his alma mater, Cal State Los Angeles, where he served as the interim head coach for the program. He is a former All-American at CSULA, setting the Iranian national record in the weight throw in 1997 with a toss of 20.06 meters (65 feet, 9 inches). He finished second in the hammer throw at the 1995 Division II national championships. Saatara is a USA Track and Field Level II certified coach.