USD throws coach A.G. Kruger joined the USD track and field coaching staff in Aug. 2015. Since then, the Coyote throws team has seen 58 new marks in the top-10 list. Under Kruger, three USD athletes have made it to the NCAA Championships.
USD has won seven Summit League titles in the Kruger era. The stiff competition makes things difficult at times, Kruger said.
“I did some calculations and our conference is the fourth best throwing conference in the nation in indoor (competition),” Kruger said. “When you have the Pac-12 in the spring, the conference will probably be fifth, but overall we’re one of the top five conferences in the nation for throws.”
Kruger is from Sheldon, Iowa and appeared in the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games for the hammer throw. He also competed on five World Championship teams and appeared in 15 U.S. National Championships in his time as a professional. But Kruger said there’s no such thing as a “professional weight thrower.”
“You don’t make enough money,” Kruger said. “…I had full-time jobs the whole time I was training, except for the first part. The balance of trying to create that no stress in my life to be able to do these things was really tough.”
Kruger went to the Olympic trials in 2016 and was fourth, one spot shy of making the Olympic team. Kruger said he doesn’t know if he could keep up with the athletes’ training right now.
“The good thing with the U.S. men’s and women’s hammer throwers is they are doing a great job,” Kruger said. “Honestly I don’t think I can hang with them. I probably could at one throw once in a while, but they’re doing a great job, so I’ll let them be, let them do it. Let them have fun. Any way I can help them, I’m going to help them out.”
Before moving to South Dakota, Kruger spent his time training and coaching in Ashland, Ohio. Kruger broke American records in the 35-pound and 56-pound weight throws in 2014. He also has the world record for throws pentathlon in the 35-39 age group.
Kruger went to Morningside College, an NCAA Division II school at the time. Kruger won the NCAA Division II Outdoor Male Track and Field Athlete of the Year his senior year and was the national champion in the hammer throw. He also set a DakotaDome record in 2006, throwing the weight throw to a mark of 77-7 ½.
“In the Division II era, I was a one-time national champion, only four-time all-American,” Kruger said. “Now you get some of these kids that have done way more than what that is for me. I was lucky enough to get the right guidance with the right coach, my coach in Ashland, Ohio, Jed Logan, gave me the vision of where I could go.”
Kruger’s time training gave him the opportunity to learn from a lot of coaches. Kruger said he has always wanted to coach. He takes his time as an Olympian and what he has overheard from other coaches and implements those ideas into his own coaching.
“Anytime I got a chance to go to the practice track and watch coaches coach and listen to what their lingo was, listen to how they talk to each other,” Kruger said. “Even the foreign coaches, you could understand the nuances of what they’re trying to teach. I try to take in as much information as I could.”
Kruger and his wife Laura met when he was training in Ohio. Laura Kruger is an instructor in the Kinesiology and Sport Management department at USD. A.G. Kruger said his training schedule made it really difficult at times, but she was always there for him.
“My wife is a rockstar,” A.G. Kruger said. “She’s great, she’s awesome, she’s way better than what I ever have been. I couldn’t have my career like I did without her support… She has always supported me all the way. “
A.G. and Laura Kruger have two children and A.G. Kruger said he wants to focus on his family, which is another reason why he isn’t training for the 2020 Olympic games.
A.G. Kruger and the Coyote throwing team will be in Fort Wayne, Indiana for the Indoor Summit League Championships this weekend.