Steve Lemke, the 2010 USTFCCCA South Region Women’s Outdoor Assistant Coach of the Year and a 20-plus veteran of the coaching ranks, begins his eighth season at the University of Florida as the team’s associate head coach. Since arriving in Gainesville, Lemke has developed the Gator throwers into an impressive corps that has been extremely successful on the national stage.
At Florida, Lemke is responsible for coaching the men’s and women’s throwers, as well as assisting head coach Mike Holloway with the overall direction of the track and field program.
Lemke, who was an All-American in the javelin at South Dakota State, has mentored eight Olympians, including 2000 U.S. Olympic pole vault gold medalist Nick Hysong and six national championships in his career. He has coached at the 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008 Olympics, the 1995, 1997, 2003 and 2009 World Championships and the 2002 Commonwealth Games.
In 2012, Lemke mentored senior Kemal Mesic, junior Jeremy Postin and sophomore Stipe Zunic to four SEC titles. Mesic claimed his third consecutive SEC title indoors in the shot put. Mesic became just the fourth athlete in SEC history to win three or more SEC men’s shot put titles. Mesic followed up that performance by finishing third at the NCAA Indoor Championships, setting a Florida school record of 20.44m/67-0.75. Mesic went on to compete at the 2012 Olympic Games for his native Bosnia.
Postin turned in SEC Championship performances in the weight throw (indoors) and hammer throw (outdoors). Postin became the Florida school record holder in the weight throw (21.60m/70-10.50) and the hammer throw (70.73m/232-1) in 2012, setting the hammer throw record five times throughout the course of the season. He was the runner-up at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the men’s hammer throw and fourth indoors in the men’s weight throw at the NCAA Championships. Postin was one of only five collegians to compete at the U.S. Olympic Trials in the men’s hammer throw and the highest-finishing collegian at 14th.
Zunic was the 2012 SEC Champion in the javelin, winning every meet in which he competed outdoors in 2012 until the NCAA Outdoor Championships, tallying seven consecutive javelin titles. Zunic finished seventh at the NCAA Outdoor Championships to earn All-American honors. He set the Florida school record in 2012, throwing a personal best of 77.89m/255-6.
In 2011, Lemke directed junior Kemal Mesic to the SEC Championship in the shot put indoors, throwing a then-school record of 19.53m/64-1, and earning second team All-America honors on the season. Sophomore Jeremy Postin became Florida’s first All-American in the hammer throw, taking eighth at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. He re-set his own school record in the event four times that season. Freshman Stipe Zunic earned first team All-America honors in the men’s javelin, turning in a fourth-place finish at the 2011 NCAA Outdoor Championships.
The 2010 campaign was an immensely successful season for Lemke and his throws corps. Athletes under Lemke’s direction last season captured three NCAA individual titles, four Southeastern Conference individual championships and six All-America honors.
Lemke’s star pupil, two-time Olympian Mariam Kevkhishvili, capped her distinguished Florida career with five total NCAA Championships in the women’s shot put, including four consecutive (indoor and outdoor) beginning with the 2009 indoor campaign. She became just the second in NCAA history to claim five women’s shot put national championships. Kevkhishvili, who became just the second woman in NCAA history to claim both the NCAA indoor and outdoor women’s shot put titles in back-to-back seasons, concluded her senior campaign by going a perfect 13-for-13 against all competition and she did not lose a competition to a collegiate competitor in her final two seasons. Kevkhishvili was named one of 10 finalists for The Bowerman, track and field’s highest honor, in the 2010 season.
With Lemke’s guidance, javelin thrower Evelien Dekkers capped her Florida career by claiming the 2010 NCAA Outdoor Championship in the women’s javelin. She did so with a school-record toss of 59.00m/193-7, making her the No. 7 all-time collegiate performer in the women’s javelin and the only woman in school history to win an NCAA javelin title. She was a four-time Pepsi Florida Relays javelin champion and captured the SEC women’s javelin title in each of her final three collegiate seasons, earning All-America honors four times. Dekkers also became the fifth person in women’s school history to earn CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America honors, garnering second team recognition in 2010. Additionally, she was a recipient of the prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship and was named the 2010 USTFCCCA Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
Lemke has been responsible for the development of senior thrower Kemal Mesic, who captured the 2010 SEC Indoor Championship in the men’s shot put. Mesic, who has earned four All-America honors during his two seasons with the Gators, ranks in the top-five all-time in school history in both the indoor and outdoor shot put. Also on the men’s side, Lemke directed sophomore Jeremy Postin to the school record in the men’s hammer throw with a mark of 60.58/198-9. Women’s pupil Keely Medeiros earned the first All-America honors of her career in 2010, collecting the recognition in the women’s shot put at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
At the 2010 SEC Outdoor Championships, Lemke’s group scored 42 points on the women’s side, including an impressive 1-2-6 finish in the women’s shot put and a javelin title by Dekkers.
Lemke has been instrumental in the progression of junior multi-event athlete Gray Horn, who has captured back-to-back SEC Outdoor Championships in the decathlon – the first two such titles in program history. Horn ranks second all-time in school history in both the heptathlon (indoors) and decathlon (outdoors).
Lemke’s impact was felt during the 2009 SEC Outdoor Championships, hosted by Florida at Percy Beard Track, as the female athletes he coached accounted for 34 of Florida’s 135.5 points en route to the SEC title. The highlight of that group included a 1-2 finish in the women’s shot put by Kevkhishvili and Medeiros, and an SEC title by Dekkers in the javelin.
Lemke mentored his group to a combined five All-America honors for the second consecutive year in 2009. Mesic, in his first year with the Gators, claimed indoor and outdoor All-America recognition, placing third outdoors and fifth indoors in the shot put. Horn also became the first athlete in school history to win an SEC decathlon title at the 2009 SEC Outdoor Championships.
In 2008, Lemke tutored five athletes to All-America honors, highlighted by Adam Montague’s third-place showing in the javelin at the 2008 NCAA Outdoor Championships. Additionally, Beau Burroughs and Shawneise Williams each claimed SEC Indoor Championships in their respective events during the 2008 campaign.
Lemke’s first two seasons in Gainesville saw him develop three All-Americans. In 2007, Kevkhishvili, as a freshman, finished sixth in the shot put at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, adding on to the All-America honor she claimed earlier in the year with an eighth-place showing at the NCAA indoor meet. Lemke produced a pair of All-Americans in 2006, as Rachel Longfors earned the distinction in the weight throw and the discus and Jyn Wynn did the same in the hammer throw.
Lemke’s passion and knowledge of the sport have led a number of the world’s most sought-after throws prospects to put their development in his hands over the past five years. Current Gators Medeiros (Brazil), Mesic (Bosnia), Montague (Australia) and Stipe Zunic (Croatia), as well former Gators Dekkers (The Netherlands) and Kevkhishvili (Georgia) have all come to Gainesville from points across the globe to study under Lemke.
Prior to his arrival at Florida, Lemke served as the head throws coach for the Australian National Team from 2002-04, while doubling as head coach at the Queensland Academy of Sport. During that time, he oversaw the development of 2004 javelin Olympian Oliver Dziubak, as well Kim Mickle, who won the 2001 World Youth championship in the javelin throw. Lemke also held the title of head coach at the Western Australia Institute of Sport from 1998-99 and 2001-02 before moving to Queensland.
Lemke also spent a three-year stretch from 1996-98 as the Coordinator and National Coach for the Norwegian senior and junior throwing groups. During that time, he molded Pal Arne Fagernes into a two-time Olympian and the national record holder in the javelin.
Before heading overseas, Lemke coached the field events at Arizona State from 1993-96. During his time in Tempe, he guided Hysong to the 1994 NCAA outdoor pole vault title and Fagernes to the 1996 javelin crown. Hysong took fourth in his signature event at the 1995 World Indoor Championships while under Lemke’s tutelage, while Fagernes showcased his skills at the 1996 Olympics.
From 1989-93, Lemke served as field events coach and recruiting coordinator at Texas-El Paso, where he guided athletes to three national titles and 11 All-America honors. With Lemke at the helm of their training, Mika Laaksonen won the 1992 NCAA championships in both the weight throw and hammer throw, while Marko Wahlman captured the weight throw title in 1993. Three of Lemke’s protégés at UTEP went on to compete at the Olympics: Alex Papadimtrious (1996, 2000, 2004), Stella Tsikouna (1996, 2000, 2004) and Wahlman (1996).
Lemke’s tenure in El Paso was preceded by a four-year stint as field events coach at Yale from 1986-89, where he guided Chris Athanasia to a runner-up showing in the javelin at the 1988 NCAA Championships.
Prior to that role, Lemke served as a graduate assistant coach at Southeast Missouri State from 1985-86, where he completed coursework toward a master’s degree in physical education.
His coaching career began at Washburn High School in North Dakota, where he was the director of track & field programs for boys and girls in grades 7-12 from 1983-85.
Lemke earned a bachelor of science degree in physical education from South Dakota State in 1983 after earning All-America honors in the javelin. He has a 15-year old son, Niklas.
The Lemke File
Hometown: Fargo, N.D.
Education: Bachelor of Science, South Dakota State, 1983; Coursework toward Master’s in
Physical Education, Southeast Missouri State
1983-85, Head Boys and Girls Coach, Washburn High School; 1985-86, Graduate Assistant Coach, Southeast Missouri State; 1986-89, Field Events Coach, Yale; 1989-1993, Field Events Coach, UTEP; 1993-96, Field Events Coach, Arizona State; 1996-98, National Senior and Junior Throws Coach, Norway; 1998-99, 2001-02, Head Coach/National Throws Coordinator, Western Australia Institute of Sport; 2002-04, Head Coach/National Throws Coordinator, Queensland Academy of Sport (Australia); 2005-2007, Associate Head Women’s Coach, Florida; 2007-2010, Throws Coach, Florida; 2010-Present, Associate Head Men’s and Women’s Coach, Florida.
Eight Olympians; 11 NCAA champions (6 at Florida, 2 at Arizona State, 3 at UTEP).
- 1996 Olympic Qualifiers: 4
- 2000 Olympic Qualifiers: 4
- 2004 Olympic Qualifiers: 3
- 2008 Olympic Qualifiers: 1
- 2012 Olympic Qualifiers: 1
Evelien Dekkers (2010 NCAA Javelin Champion, Three-time SEC Champion); Oliver Dziubak (2004 Javelin Olympian, Australian Javelin Junior Record Holder); Pal Arne Fagernes (Two-Time Olympian, 1996 NCAA Javelin Champion); Nick Hysong (2000 OlympicPole Vault Gold Medalist, 1994 NCAA Outdoor Javelin Champion); Mariam Kevkhishvili (Five-time NCAA Champion, Eight-Time All-American, 2004 and 2008 Olympian); Mika Laaksonen (1992 NCAA Weight Throw Champion, 1992 NCAA Hammer Throw Champion); Rachel Longfors (2006 Weight Throw All-American); Kemal Mesic (Five-time All-American, 2010, 2011, 2012 SEC Indoor Shot Put Champion); Kim Mickle (2001 World Youth JavelinChampion); Alex Papadimtrious (Three-Time Olympian); Jeremy Postin (2012 SEC Hammer Throw and Weight Throw Champion, Two-Time All-American); Stella Tsikovna (Three-timeOlympian); Marko Wahlman (1996 Olympian, 1993 NCAA Weight Throw Champion); Simon Wardaugh (Australian Hammer Throw Junior Record Holder); Jyn Wynn (2006 HammerThrow All-American); Stipe Zunic (2012 SEC Javelin Champion, 2012 Javelin All-American).