Dan O'Mara enters his fourth season as an assistant track and field coach overseeing the throwing events. O'Mara has built the UNI throws program into one of the top programs in the Midwest.
Under O'Mara, the Panthers have become a recognized force in the throwing events at both the Missouri Valley Conference and NCAA meets. His knowledge and experienced has carried over to producing athletes that have been ranked among the top-15 competitors in the nation. O'Mara's impact as the throws coach at Northern Iowa cannot be understated.
In only three short years, O'Mara has coached the Panthers to 18 First Round NCAA National Championship qualifying spots, 13 Missouri Valley Conference Honors, four Conference Champions, two UNI school records, two NCAA National Championship Qualifiers, one Missouri Valley Conference Record and one NCAA second Team All-American honor.
During the 2012 indoor season, O'Mara coached senior Justin Romero to his second consecutive Missouri Valley Conference win in the shot put with a toss of 59-2. Romero then went on to break the Missouri Valley Conference Outdoor shot put record and UNI school record with an outstanding performance of 62-4.5 at the First Round of the NCAA Championships in Austin, Texas. His performance earned him a spot at the Final Round of the NCAA Championship in Des Moines, Iowa where he ended up earning honorable mention All-American.
Under O'Mara, Jordan Williams, a junior from Monticello, Iowa won his second consecutive discus title at the 2012 Outdoor Missouri Valley Conference Championships with a toss of 182-10. Williams went on to surpass that mark with a 192-5 effort at the First Round of the NCAA Championships and earn a spot to the Final Round of the NCAA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa. There he turned in a second team All-American performance of 183-10 to finish 14th. O'Mara also guided Williams past the 60-foot barrier for the first time at the 2012 Mark Messersmith Invitational, making him the second thrower in UNI history to ever to throw the steel ball over that distance.
Under the guidance of O'Mara, the UNI throws program experienced its best season in school history in 2011. Two UNI throwers claimed Missouri Valley Conference individual titles and four Panthers qualified for the NCAA West Preliminary Rounds in Eugene, Ore.
At the 2011 MVC Outdoor Championships, the UNI men's throwers totaled 54 team points and had an All-MVC finisher in each of the four throwing events. The 54 points in the throwing events were the most scored by UNI at the MVC Championships in UNI history. Jordan Williams won his first Valley title in the discus, uncorking a personal-best throw by 11-feet and claiming fourth on the UNI all-time list with his mark of 182-06 (55.63m).
At the MVC Indoor Championships in 2011, UNI racked up 29 points between the two men's throwing events and rallied the Panthers into the team lead late in the meet. With O'Mara's tutelage, Justin Romero won his first Valley title in the shot put with a throw of 58-07.50 (17.87m).
In 2011, Panther throwers posted 10 performances that broke into the school's all-time top-five lists. Tanner Hurt set a new school record in the hammer throw, and Justin Romero (indoor shot put), Kelsey Sukovaty (indoor shot put) and Traci Harms (weight throw, hammer throw) all claimed the No. 2 spot on the UNI all-time lists.
O'Mara made an immediate impact on the UNI program in his first season in 2010 by implementing his nationally-renowned system. In all, O'Mara's athletes set an amazing 37 personal bests in 2010.
"Dan is one of America's premier throws coaches," said UNI head track and field coach Dan Steele. "To be able to attract a coach as talented and well-respected as O'Mara speaks to the national reputation of UNI track and field. His coaching expertise is exceeded only by his character and integrity. Dan is a perfect fit with UNI Athletics. He fits the teacher/coach model I feel is so important to the success of any intercollegiate athletics program."
"It is my goal to help develop one of the finest throws programs in the nation," O'Mara said upon his hiring. "I also want to help my athletes earn a degree while preparing them for the real world. I want to show athletes what it takes to be the best and challenge athletes to go beyond their comfort zone. I am willing to put forth the effort needed to bring this program to the next level."
Prior to UNI, O'Mara served as an assistant track and field coach at Iowa State from 1992-2007. At ISU, O'Mara guided 22 Big 12 Conference Champions in addition to coaching 21 All-Americans and eight Olympic Trials qualifiers. His student-athletes also set seven ISU school records under his guidance. O'Mara also produced and developed a shot put technique video.
Prior to his services at Iowa State, O'Mara assisted at South Carolina and his alma mater, Kansas State. O'Mara obtained four letters while attending Kansas State from 1986-89, where he earned All-America honors in the discus with a toss of 193-0.
As a senior and team captain, O'Mara won both the Big Eight shot put and discus titles and finished second in the javelin. O'Mara was voted into Kansas State's Hall of Honor for having two of the best throws in the history of Kansas State track and field with distances of 62-5 in the shot and 193-2 in the discus.
His prep career at Hayden High School in Topeka, Kan., is just as impressive. O'Mara broke the Kansas Class 4A discus record his junior year and won the shot put (59-8), discus (192-3) and 100 meters (10.8) his senior year. He has spoken at several clinics and produced an instructional video. O'Mara earned his bachelor's degree from Kansas State in 1990 and a master's degree from Iowa State in 1997.
He and his wife, Denise, reside in Ames, Iowa with their two dogs (Lucky and Sport).