Steven Rajewsky recently completed his third season as an assistant coach for the University of Michigan men's track and field team, working primarily with the Wolverine sprinters and hurdlers.
In 2016, Rajewsky helped lead U-M to the best season of the Jerry Clayton Era and the best since 1997, as the team earned a runner-up finish at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships and finished fourth during the indoor conference meet, just two points shy of second place before tying for 13th during the NCAA Outdoor Championships. He coached Taylor McLaughlin to All-American honors in the 400-meter hurdles (5th place) as a true freshman, and McLaughlin went on to win the American Junior (U-20) title in the same event before finishing as the world junior runner-up in a personal-best time of 49.45.
Rajewsky worked with Kevin Stephens Jr. as well, helping the Texan native earn a Big Ten runner-up finish in the triple jump indoors with U-M's No. 4 all-time performance in the event. He also scored at the outdoor meet (fifth) and landed No. 7 on the all-time performance list for the outdoor season.
During the conference outdoor meet, U-M totaled 90.5 points, its highest program scoring performance since 2008. Rajewsky helped Taylor McLaughlin to his first career Big Ten gold medal when he ran 49.80 to win the 400-meter hurdles out of lane one, the fastest time by any freshman in the NCAA in 2016. That came just months after he coached McLaughlin to a new program record in the indoor 400-meter dash (46.42) during his conference championships debut, and Rajewsky also helped U-M break its 12-year old Distance Medley Relay (DMR) record during the indoor season. The squad of Chase Barnett (1,200m), Phil Washington III (400m), Brennan Munley (800m) and Mason Ferlic (1,600m) timed 9:27.67 to break the record at Notre Dame's Alex Wilson Invitational (Feb. 20), and with Washington III, switched for McLaughlin, went on to have its first All-American DMR since 2007, placing eighth at the NCAA Championships as the Wolverines secured five All-American honors overall.
While multi-events athlete Steven Bastien has rewritten the U-M combined events record books, Rajewsky has been right by his side, helping to guide Bastien to one Big Ten title (indoor heptathlon, 2016) and three All-American honors (all first team; two indoors, one outdoors). He has steadily improved Bastien's sprinting and hurdling events while helping him break and re-set Michigan records in both multi-event competitions.
In his second season in Ann Arbor, Rajewsky helped U-M to its best performance at the Big Ten Indoor Championships since 2009, featuring a pair of individual conference champions and a fifth-place finish. Rajewsky guided Chris Maye to the 60m title, helping him become Michigan's first conference champion in the event since 2009. The Maize and Blue went 1-2-5 in the event, supplying Rajewsky with a pair of all-conference performers in Maye (first-team) and runner-up Codie Nolan (second-team).
Rajewsky helped Ali Arastu break the 28-year old indoor program record in the 400m dash, formerly held by Omar Davidson, and under his direction, five of the top six times in U-M indoor history were recorded in the 60m dash, including the second-fastest mark (6.70) ever, by John Spooney.
During the outdoor season, Rajewsky guided a trio of Wolverines to the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds, all of whom competed in the 100m dash, giving U-M the most entries in that even in the entire east region, and tied for most in the nation.
He joined the U-M staff after spending the previous six seasons (2008-13) as an assistant coach at Kent State University, working with their men's and women's sprint and hurdles groups. During his time at KSU, he helped lead the Golden Flashes to eight Mid-American Conference (MAC) championships, including four straight women's outdoor titles (2010-13), three women's indoor crowns (2010, 2012-13) and the 2009 men's indoor championship. Under Rajewsky's guidance, his student-athletes garnered three MAC Athlete of the Year citations and three MAC Indoor Track Performer of the Meet awards. In addition, he coached 28 MAC champions, 64 All-MAC performers, 11 school-record holders, 12 NCAA East Preliminary qualifiers, one NCAA Championship qualifier and three USA Junior Championship participants.
Prior to his stint at Kent State, Rajewsky spent two seasons at Ball State University as a graduate assistant coach (2006-08), working with the Cardinals' jumps, hurdles and multi-event student-athletes. Throughout the Fall of 2006, Rajewsky also gained valuable experience as the interim head coach during a coaching staff transition. Under his watch, Rajewsky's student-athletes recorded nine MAC individual titles, five school records, 19 All-MAC performances, seven NCAA Mid-East Regional qualifying performances and four NCAA Championship qualifying performances. Rajewsky guided two-time MAC record-holder Amber Williams to All-America honors in the 100-meter hurdles, a fourth-place finish at the USA Indoor Championships and participation at the 2007 USA Championships. During his time at Ball State, Rajewsky also earned his Master of Arts in sports administration for higher education in 2008.
Rajewsky is no stranger to Big Ten track and field, earning his start in Division I coaching as a volunteer assistant coach with the women's track and field program at the University of Minnesota from 2004-06. He concentrated on the Gophers' sprints, jumps, hurdles and multi-event groups. In 2006, he helped lead Minnesota to the Big Ten Outdoor championship, guiding six student-athletes to individual conference titles. He also assisted in coaching three Big Ten Freshmen of the Year, five school record-holders, seven NCAA Championship qualifiers, six NCAA All-Americans and one NCAA champion (800-meter run).
The Blue Earth, Minn., native was hired to U-M's staff on Sept. 18, 2013. In his own athletic career, Rajewsky was a six-time All-MIAC performer and 2004 team captain of the University of St. Thomas men's track and field program. Rajewsky was a 2003 Provisional NCAA Championship qualifier and helped lead St. Thomas to eight MIAC team titles (indoor and outdoor championships from 2000-04). He graduated from St. Thomas in 2004 with a bachelor's degree in sociology and a teaching licensure in social studies.
Rajewsky has spoken at, and helped direct, several camps and clinics across the country in both track and field and basketball.
Rajewsky resides in Ann Arbor with his wife Ellannee, a 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials semifinalist in the 400-meter hurdles, two-time NCAA runner-up in the heptathlon and five-time All-American in the heptathlon and sprints. Ellannee went on to become a successful sprints coach at Washington State University (2004-2014), her alma mater, and she and Steve expect their first child in the summer of 2016.
Rajewsky by the Numbers
Has coached one NCAA champion
Has guided his athletes to two first-team NCAA All-American citations at U-M (McLaughlin)
46 conference champions, including three at Michigan (two indoor: Maye [60m dash] and Bastien [heptathlon], and one outdoor: McLaughlin [400m hurdles])
Has coached 23 school record-holders, including three at Michigan (Heptathlon, Decathlon, Distance Medley Relay)
Has guided U-M athletes to 50 all-time top-10 performances in the following events: 60 meters (nine), 100 meters (three), 200 meters (two) 400 meters (four), 110-meter hurdles (nine), 400-meter hurdles (six), the 4x100-meter relay (one), the 4x400-meter relay (three) and the Distance Medley Relay (one). He has also contributed to four top-10 heptathlon performances, four such decathlon performances, and four all-time top-10 triple jump performances.
Has coached his athletes to 96 all-conference honors, including 7 at Michigan (five indoor: Maye, Nolan, Bastien, McLaughlin, Stephens Jr. one outdoor: McLaughlin, Bastien)
Has coached four NCAA Preliminary Round qualifiers at Michigan (four at 100m, one at 400m hurdles, four at 4x400m relay)
Has helped student-athletes advance to the NCAA Championships on four occasions at Michigan (McLaughlin: Distance Medley Relay indoors and 400m hurdles outdoors; Bastien: Heptathlon indoors and Decathlon outdoors).
Has been a member of 17 conference title-winning teams as an athlete and coach