The season will begin with the FAU Cross Country Invitational on Sept. 4
The season will begin with the second annual FAU Cross Country Invitational on Sept. 4
The prelims are being held on May 28-30 in Jacksonville, Fla.
The meet will be held in Coral Gables, Fla. on March 20-21
Freshman Frida Thorsås is FAU's first indoor track and field C-USA champion after winning the pentathlon
Alex M. Smolka is starting his 12th year at the helm of the Florida Atlantic University cross country and track and field programs. He has been part of the program from almost the very beginning. The cross-country program started in 1991, and Smolka joined it as an assistant coach in February 1992. He took over as head cross country coach in August 2001 and became the head coach of the entire program in July 2002. During the 2005-2006 academic year, indoor track & field was added as a women's intercollegiate sport at Florida Atlantic.
In the 2014-15 season, Smolka saw his first indoor and outdoor Conference USA Champions. A freshman at the time, Frida Thorsås won the pentathlon at the C-USA Indoor Championship and claimed victory in the heptathlon at the C-USA Outdoor Championship. Sitia Martinez also won the 400 meter hurdles at the outdoor championship. For the fifth year in a row, the Owls were represented in the 400 hurdles at the NCAA East Preliminary Championship as Martinez qualified for competition. The 4x100 meter relay team also qualified.
While at Florida Atlantic, Smolka has mentored 85 All-Conference outdoor track athletes, 46 All-Conference indoor track athletes, 11 cross country All-Conference runners, an outdoor track & field Outstanding Freshman, an indoor track & field Outstanding Freshman, and an Outstanding Indoor track & field athlete of the year. Smolka has also had more than 400 student-athletes make the conference All-Academic Team and three female student-athletes of the year. In addition, all of the individual records for the programs have been set under his supervision.
Smolka helped develop one of FAU's top hurdlers, Danielle Aromashodu. Aromashodu, named FAU's Female Student-Athlete of 2013-14, is the school record holder in the 400-meter hurdles and won the Sun Belt Conference Championship in the 400-meter hurdles in each of her first three seasons. Smolka also helped lead her to the 2014 NCAA East Preliminary Championship and she was honored as a member of the Division I All-Academic Track & Field team by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).
Smolka also coached professional runner Friederike Fiel. Fiel holds two FAU school records for cross country in the women's 5K and 6K. She also has the indoor and outdoor track records in the 3,000m run and is a part of the 4x800m relay team that holds the women's school record at FAU. In 2011, Fiel won a bronze medal in the 3K steeple chase at the German National Championship and went on to sign an endorsement contract with Brooks Shoe Company.
40 individual Owls have qualified for the NCAA Track and Field Regionals under Smolka. One athlete provisionally qualified for the NCAA Indoor National Championships and the women's cross-country team has been ranked as high as 13th in the South Region.
In 2010, the Owls placed second in the Sun Belt Cross Country Championship and placed third in the 2009 indoor championship. FAU has never placed lower than fourth at the Atlantic Sun Outdoor Track and Field Championships, finishing third four times. In the school's first season of indoor competition, Smolka's squad placed second at the A-Sun Indoor Track and Field Championships. In 2006-07, FAU's first year in the Sun Belt Conference, the women finished third at the cross country championships and eighth in both the indoor and outdoor track championships.
Smolka grew up in Vienna, Austria, and London, England, and was a three-sport athlete (skiing, soccer and track) competing numerous times in the International School Sports' Tournament (ISST) in various European countries. He then served as the captain for the Hampshire College soccer team while training and competing with the University of Massachusetts track and field team, where he set personal bests in the 400m (48.36 sec.) and 800m (1:53.88). Following college, he competed in triathlons, twice becoming a USA National Team member for the Maccabbiah Games in Israel in 1993 and 2001.
Smolka holds a bachelor's degree in history from Hampshire College (1988), a master's degree in sports and business management from Northeastern University (1992) and a Master of Arts degree in history from FAU (1996). He is a certified R.A.D (Rape, Aggression Defense) instructor, a certified professional rescuer/life guard, and a USATF Level I and II certified coach.
Smolka resides in Boca Raton, FL, with his wife, Caroline, and their six children: Tevya, Avi, Michaela, Johanna, David and Jacob.