CT&F: Fife introduced as South Dakota cross country coach


VERMILLION, S.D.—University of South Dakota athletic director David Herbster has announced the hiring of Nolan Fife as the Coyotes’ head coach for the men’s and women’s cross country programs. Fife will also serve as an assistant coach for the men’s and women’s track & field teams, working with the distance runners.

Fife spent the past six seasons as an assistant cross country coach at the University of Illinois. He helped guide both the men’s and women’s Illini programs to NCAA Championship appearances in his tenure. His athletes have combined for six Illinois school records, nine Big Ten Championship titles and nine All-America honors.

In 2016, Fife helped guide the Illini men to their first NCAA Championships appearance in 30 years. After placing third at the NCAA Midwest Regional, the men received an at-large bid to nationals where they went on to finish 23rd.

Then in 2019, he coached the women’s cross country team to the NCAA Championships for their first appearance since 2009. The Illini won the 2019 NCAA Midwest Regional to earn an automatic birth to nationals. The Orange and Blue were led by four all-Midwest Region honorees.

Fife also worked with the Illini track and field program as an assistant coach working with the distance and middle-distance runners. On the track, he worked with 2017 Big Ten Freshman of the Year Jonathan Davis, who went on to finish runner-up in the 1,500 meters at the 2022 U.S. Outdoor Championships and has clocked multiple sub-four minute miles at Illinois. He also coached the Illini men’s distance medley relay to All-America status in 2019. On the women’s side, he trained Olivia Howell, a four-time Big Ten Champion and three-time All-American in the mile and 1,500 meters.

Fife graduated from Indiana University in 2015 with a degree in kinesiology. He ran for the Hoosiers’ cross country and track & field teams from 2010-15. As a junior in 2013, he was a member of Indiana’s Big Ten team title in cross country. It was IU’s first Big Ten men’s cross country title since 1980.

Fife and his wife, Rebecca, have one daughter, Abigail.