Few NCAA Division II programs in the 1980s were as successful in track & field and cross country as the Cal State Northridge squads coached by Don Strametz, who would later lead the Matadors to more success at the NCAA Division I level.
For more than three decades Strametz guided the CSUN track & field and cross country programs. After a successful run as the Locke High School coach from 1974 through 1979, he took over the CSUN cross country teams in 1979, the women’s track & field team – which had just won three consecutive AIAW national titles – in 1981 and the men’s track & field program in 1985. He remained at the helm of each until his retirement in 2011.
The first third of his career was accentuated by success at the NCAA Division II level. His women’s cross country program was particularly exceptional, having finished as the national runners-up at the NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships back-to-back years in 1985 and 1986.
In 1989, Strametz and the Matadors made the most of their final year at the NCAA Division II level, as Darcy Arreola won the national individual title and CSUN took fourth-place overall. Their 1989 showing was the sixth time the CSUN women had finished top-five at the NCAA Championships.
That same year, his men finished fifth at the NCAA Cross Country Championships, making their third top-10 finish during Strametz’s tenure.
Those men’s cross country runners combined with the Matador sprinters, jumpers and throwers in the spring for a national runner-up performance at the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track & Field Championships. His women finished a program-best fifth overall for the second season in a row, capping a streak of six top-10 finishes.
In total, he coached 10 NCAA Division II individual national champions in outdoor track & field between the men and the women.
Strametz and the Matador programs made the jump to the NCAA Division I level the following season, and it didn’t take long for him to deliver the school’s first DI national champion. Already an NCAA DII cross country champ, Arreola won the outdoor 1500 meters national title in 1991 – CSUN’s very first season in DI.
His men’s program produced two different national champions in the long jump in back-to-back championships in 2007 and 2008. First, Dashalle Andrews claimed the 2007 outdoor NCAA crown, followed by Rendell Cole taking the 2008 indoor title.
Those three national champions are among the 11 outdoor DI All-Americans and five indoor DI All-Americans Strametz coached during his time at CSUN.
His teams found great success at the conference level in Division I, combining for 21 league crowns in the Big West and the Big Sky. More than 100 of his athletes earned all-Big West honors, in addition to nearly 150 All-Big Sky honorees.
He was inducted into the Mt. SAC Relays Hall of Fame in 2011.