Cross country running with no coach

Sean Ammerman

With the season nearly half over, the Kent State men’s and women’s cross country teams are without a coach.

Brad Hunt, the interim coach of the teams, will be leaving at the end of this month to become the assistant cross country and track and field coach with the University of Virginia. This makes the head coaching job vacant as of Oct. 1. – the same day as the teams’ next meet at the Lakefront Invitational in Chicago.

Laing Kennedy, athletic director for Kent State, said he expects to make a decision with the new track and field coach Bill Lawson for a replacement by that time.

“Our new head coach and I are now looking at who the next (cross country) coach will be,” Kennedy said. “We have some really outstanding people expressing interest.”

Lawson was scheduled to arrive at Kent State last night. He is the former assistant track and field coach for the University of Oregon.

Kennedy said he originally offered the cross country coaching job to Hunt, but he did not accept.

“I am personally very disappointed to see Brad leave,” Kennedy said. “I was personally very fond of him- But, at the same time, he’s expanding his professional horizons and I wish him the best of luck.”

Hunt had been serving as interim coach since June when former cross country and track and field coach Wendel McRaven resigned to become the University of Illinois men’s cross country coach and assistant track and field coach.

Hunt saw the men place first and women place third last Saturday at the Red Flash invitational in his final meet as coach at Kent State. He leaves behind his alma mater and the team he helped coach for more than seven years.

“It’s a great group of men and women wearing a Kent State uniform,” Hunt said. “I’ll continue to be very proud of anyone wearing a Kent State uniform – no matter where I’m coaching.”

At the same time, Hunt said he is looking forward to his future in Virginia.

“I’m extremely excited,” he said. “It was the best opportunity for myself, professionally.”

Hunt added that he hopes to one day be the head coach of a very successful program.

For the time being, however, this season continues with no coach.

“It’s midseason and that’s what’s so hard about it,” said Stephanie Blackstone, junior photojournalism major and women’s cross country and track and field runner. “Still, I think this will show the spirit of the team.”

Blackstone compared the teams to a big family with Hunt being the person she could always talk to.

“It was really hard to see Wendel go,” she said, “and it’s twice as hard to see Brad go.”

Before he left, Blackstone said Hunt assigned special team captains to help with the difficult situation.

“It was highly emotional for me,” Hunt said about leaving such a close-knit team. “More than I can ever express in words.”

Hunt has coached the men’s team to victories in their first two meets of this season, while the women are coming off their first Mid-American Conference Championship last year.

“Brad has our men’s and women’s teams running well,” Kennedy said. “I don’t expect our teams to miss a beat.”

Contact cross country reporter Sean Ammerman at [email protected].