Laura Januszewski announced that she is stepping down as the Concordia College men's and women's cross country head coach to accept the position as Technology Integrationist at Pelican Rapids High School. She will also be coaching for the cross country and track and field teams.
"Coaching the men and women of Cobber cross country and track and field has been one of the greatest joys of my coaching career," Januszewski said. "I am so grateful for the student-athletes I have worked with, mentored, and watched grow on and off the track. I leave behind my Cobber Family knowing that they will carry on the tradition of hard work, perseverance, and dedication to their training and their teammates. They will forever hold a special place in my heart."
Prior to taking the Concordia job, Januszewski was a business education teacher and track and cross country coach at Lake Park-Audubon high school.
Januszewski recently completed her third season as the Cobber men's and women's cross country head coach as well as an assistant coach for the Concordia track & field teams.
"Laura has positively impacted our cross country and track & field programs," Concordia Athletic Director Rachel Bergeson said. "We will miss her competitive spirit, but we wish her and her family well."
Under Januszewski's guidance, the Cobber men's cross country team posted its best finish in an NCAA Regional Meet in 16 years when they finished in 15th place in 2019. The Cobber women's cross country team recorded its first Top 5 finish at the MIAC Championship Meet since 2000 when they placed fifth at the conference meet. The women's team also finished 10th at the Central Region Meet which marked the first time since 2012 that Concordia had finished in the Top 10 at the region event.
In addition to her team success, Januszewski was also directly involved with the record-setting performances by the Concordia track & field middle-distance and distance runners. During her tenure with the cross country and track & field teams, 14 Cobber student-athletes earned MIAC All-Conference honors and 17 runners captured All-Conference Honorable Mention awards.
Januszewski helped junior Jesse Middendorf become the first Cobber track athlete to earn All-American honors since 1992. Middendorf finished fifth in the 800 meters at the recently completed NCAA Championship Meet. Middendorf also broke the school's 33-year-old record in the event and was the MIAC champion for the 800 meters this season. Middendorf also captured the title in the 600 and 800 meters at the 2020 MIAC Indoor Meet.
"Laura has pushed and encouraged me to not only be a better runner, but a better person too." Middendorf stated. "She is such an inspiration to me and the Cobber track family. I look to her as a mentor in track, and life in general, as she is knowledgeable in so many areas of life. Her incredible work ethic and dedication to Cobber cross country and track and field is contagious. These qualities have spread to my teammates and I and will stick with the programs for many years to come."
Under the tutelage of Januszewski, Cobber women's track and field standout Josie Herrmann won the 800 meters and 1500 meters at the MIAC Meet in May and recently posted top 15 finishes in both events at the NCAA meet. Herrmann also won the 1000 meters at both the 2020 and 2019 MIAC Indoor Meets.
"Laura was more than just an incredible coach, she was an inspiration and a strong and powerful woman dedicated to her team and her family," Herrmann said. "She has impacted my life in so many ways on and off the track, and I would not be the woman I am today without her."
Bergeson also added that a search to find a full-time replacement for Januszewski for head coach for the men's and women's cross country program will begin immediately.