Matt Harlfinger enters his sixth season as the Assistant Track and Field Coach at Western Carolina University in 2013. Harlfinger, a graduate of Western Carolina University in 2007 with his B.S. in Sport Management/ Exercise Science and in 2009 M.A.E.D in Physical Education, is responsible for the all of the Jumping Events and Multi-Events in the 2014 season.
He has instructed 36 All-Southern Conference Athletes, 7 of which were individual champions in their events. He has coached athletes to 4 school records and 2 Southern Conference records. More impressively, he has been a member of 11 Southern Conference Championship teams, 4 as an athlete and 7 as a coach.
The 2012-2013 season was one of Harlfinger's most successful seasons as a coach as he saw Devyn Ressler, Ashley Wala, and CJ Elyea all earn all-conference honors, with jumps over 12'0, in the Women's Pole Vault. No other Southern Conference institution had three women earn that honor in 2013. Additionally, Aaron Tribble and Jordan Orr earned all-conference honors in the Men's High Jump with jumps of 6'6 and 6'10 respectively. Michaela Birek and Dustin Tripplett both earned all Southern Conference accolades in the multi-events as well. During the indoor season Harlfinger was nominated for the USTFCCCA Southeast Regional Assistant Coach of the Year Award.
The 2011-2012 season was an exciting year for the Cats as the Men's team pulled off an unbelievable championship run indoors winning by half of a point. Harlfinger saw Matt Stenger (15'7) earn an all-conference honors in the Men's Pole Vault and Luke Burton in the Men's Heptathlon. The highlight of the 2012 season for Harlfinger was seeing Meghan Morton (147' PR) defend her Southern Conference title in the Javelin as well as Summer Hughes (135' PR) getting a spot on the podium with her teammate solidifying WCU as a Javelin powerhouse in the Southern Conference. Keith Leonard posted an impressive PR (15'7) at the outdoor championships to finish 3rd, Jordan Orr finished 3rd in the Men's High Jump (6'8), and Luke Burton found a spot on the podium in the Men's Decathlon making him one of the most decorated multi-event athletes in WCU history.
In the 2010-2011 season, Harlfinger directed four athletes to All-Southern Conference accolades. Kassie McKie earned the honors Indoors and Outdoors with a PR of 12'6.5. Meghan Morton won her first Javelin title for the Cat's as a freshman with a season best throw of 142'. Additionally, Luke Burton and Jettanna Thomas earned spots on the podium as well.
Harlfinger served the Cats as a Graduate Assistant and Part-Time coach for the 2008, 2009, 2010 seasons and strictly oversaw the development of the pole vault event and assisted with the hurdles in 2008. During that span 9 athletes earned all-Southern Conference honors in the multi events with 3 of them being SoCon Champions and 2 of them holding SoCon records. In 2008 the hurdlers brought home 4 SoCon honors and 1 individual title. Also, Mike O'Steen and Ashley Wala also brought home All-Conference honors in the pole vault with jumps of 15'7 and 11'7.
As a student-athlete at Western Carolina from 2004-2007 Harlfinger brought home 6 All-Southern Conference honors in the Multi-Events. He was individually the Heptathlon champion in 2007 setting a WCU School Record and Southern Conference record in the process. He was the first Heptathlon champion in school history. Harlfinger scored over 90 points for the Cats over the course of four years in the heptathlon, decathlon, 60m hurdles, 110 hurdles, high jump, and pole vault. At the indoor championships in 2007 Harlfinger scored 24 points for the Cats and was named the WCU Indoor Track and Field MVP that year by the coaching staff. In 2010, Harlfinger competed overseas in the Tetra-decathlon World Championships finishing 3rd, while setting the current American Record in the process.