Track and Field Coaching Staff
David Harris
Distance Coach
Coach Info:
Position: Distance Coach
Alma Mater: Northeast Missouri State University
Graduating Year: 1978
  • Four first-team All-Americans
  • Three Big Ten Champions
  • 19 years as a head coach
  • 11-time MIAA Coach of the Year
  • Coached 10 Conference Championship Teams
  • Coached 20 runner-up teams
  • USTFCCCA Jimmy Carnes Distinguished Service Award
  • USTFCCA President
  • Division II Executive Council Chairman

David Harris is entering his fifth season as the Huskers’ distance coach. Harris took over in 2012 for Jay Dirksen, who retired after 28 seasons as Nebraska’s distance coach and head cross country coach.

Harris helped guide Anna Peer to a breakout season as a sophomore in 2015. Peer ran a personal-best 34:10.58 in the 10,000 meters to win the Mt. SAC Relays and move to No. 3 all-time in NU outdoor history. Peer also cracked the all-time outdoor top 10 in the 3,000 meters, winning the Musco Twilight title in 9:40.18. She also moved to No. 10 in the 5,000 meters with a time of 16:35.34 at the Pac-12 vs. Big Ten Invitational. Peer was the 3,000-meter winner at back-to-back indoor meets at the adidas Classic and Frank Sevigne Husker Invitational, giving her four event titles in 2015. Peer showed well at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships with a fourth-place finish in the 10,000 meters. Shawnice Williams closed out her Husker career with a runner-up finish in the 800 meters at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships and a third-place 600-meter finish at the indoor meet. For the men, freshman Moujtaba Mohammed posted a fourth-place finish in the 600 meters at the Big Ten Indoor Championships and ran an 800-meter personal-best 1:50.49 at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships.

In 2014, Harris coached London Hawk, who registered a third-place finish in the 600 meters at the Big Ten Indoor Championships. Hawk was also part of the second-best distance medley relay run in school history (9:32.85) at the Alex Wilson Invitational. Under Harris, the Husker men’s distance medley team finished fifth at the Big Ten indoor meet with a time of 9:48.16. Harris coached Trevor Vidlak to a fourth-place finish in the mile run at the Big Ten Indoor Championships. Freshman Jacob Holtmeier took eighth in the 800-meter run at the indoor meet as well. Additionally, Harris led Anna Peer as she finished 14th in the Big Ten Cross Country Championship to earn second-team All-Big Ten honors. At the Alex Wilson Invitational, the Husker men’s DMR team posted a 9:32.85, the second-best oversized mark in school history. It came one season after the 2013 DMR squad set a school record for an oversized track with a time of 9:31.71 at the Alex Wilson Invitational, better than any DMR run in school history.

Harris also guided the Huskers to more success in 2013, leading the distance and middle distance squads. He coached 800-meter specialist Shawnice Williams and 3,000-meter steeplechase specialist Jessica Furlan to honorable-mention All-America awards at the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Championships. Furlan finished second in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the 2013 Big Ten Outdoor Championships, earning All-Big Ten honors. She posted a personal-best time of 9:58.52 in the event at the Mt. SAC Relays to cement her spot at No. 2 on the all-time list at Nebraska. Furlan also won the indoor 3,000 meters title at the Big Ten Indoor Championships and notched a pair of top-five finishes in the mile and 5,000 meters. Williams finished second in the 600 meters at the 2013 Big Ten Indoor Championships. She advanced to the 2013 NCAA Championships with a personal-best time of 2:05.26 in the 800 meters at the preliminary round in Austin, Texas.

In 2012, Harris coached the women’s indoor distance medley relay team to a seventh-place finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships in Boise, Idaho, posting a record time of 11:09.83 for first-team All-America honors.

Harris also guided Ashley Miller to a stellar senior season, earning second-team All-America honors in the 1,500 meters at the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Championship as she finished with a personal-best time in the event. Miller also earned three conference titles in 2012, finishing first in the outdoor 800 meters, the outdoor 1,500 meters and the indoor 3,000 meters. She also etched her name into the Husker record books with her time of 9:17.28 in the indoor 3,000 meters, setting a school record. In addition, she won the 1,500 meters and broke the meet record at the Drake Relays in 2012. Later in the summer of 2012, Miller represented Nebraska at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore., where she competed in the semifinals in the 800 meters and 1,500 meters.

Harris has strong ties to Nebraska, as he coached NU’s middle distance runners and the men’s sprinters and hurdlers for seven years before becoming the head cross country and track and field coach at Emporia State in 1992. In his first stint at Nebraska, Harris coached many student-athletes to records that still stand including the women’s outdoor 800 meters (Sharon Powell), the men’s outdoor 400 meters (Ken Waller), the 1,000 meters (Dieudonne Kwizera), the 400-meter hurdles (Mark Jackson) and the 4x400-meter relay.

As the Hornets’ head coach for 19 years, Harris was named MIAA Coach of the Year 11 times and brought Emporia State to the top of the Division II ranks, as the men’s squad finished fourth at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in 2011.

One of the most respected coaches in the track and field community, Harris was the first non-Division I president in the history of the USTFCCCA. The leadership and direction of Harris was essential in bringing the NCAA Outdoor Championships to the Flint Hills in 1995, 1999 and again in 2006.

Emporia State won 10 MIAA team championships under Harris and had 20 runner-up finishes. In 1999 he became only the third coach to lead both the men’s and women’s teams to MIAA outdoor titles in the same season. The ESU women earned the school’s first top-four finish nationally with a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Emporia in 1999. It was the second of three national championship meets at Witten Track/Welch Stadium held under Harris’ leadership.

Harris has served in numerous leadership roles within the USTFCCCA and has earned two prestigious awards. He was named the 2001 USTCA Women’s NCAA Division II National Outdoor Coach of the Year and was most recently awarded the Jimmy Carnes Distinguished Service Award by the USTFCCCA. He is the former Division II Executive Council Chairman and was the first non-Division I President of the USTFCCCA, serving in that role from 2005-06 and leading the association through its reorganization in 2005.

Harris received his bachelor’s degree in physical education/social science and a master’s degree in athletic administration from Truman State, formerly Northeast Missouri State University. At TSU, he was a four-year letterman in cross country and track and field and captained the track team for two years.

After college, Harris joined the elite section of the St. Louis Track Club sponsored by adidas. From 1979 to 1981 he ran seven marathons with a personal-best of 2:19.54 in New Orleans. At the 1979 Boston Marathon, he qualified for the 1980 U.S. Olympic Trials with a time of 2:20.46. Harris retired from competitive road racing in 1981 to concentrate fully on coaching.

Harris is married to the former Kathy Bechhold, and the couple have two sons, John-David and Jared.