Cross country team still looks to interim coach for leadership

Kali Price

When the time comes for a coach to move on to a new team, things move on, a new coach steps in and all is well.

Kent State men’s and women’s cross country still haven’t been given the chance to move on and deal with the changes yet.

The Flashes have been without a coach since the announcement of Wendel McRaven’s departure for a position at the University of Illinois on July 7.

“We were just surprised more than anything,” junior distance runner Tiffany Brenneman said. “We were just kind of nervous for what was going to happen in the future.”

Laing Kennedy, Kent State Director of Athletics, appointed assistant coach Brad Hunt as the team’s interim head coach immediately after McRaven’s departure.

At that time, Kennedy also said that a nationwide search for a new head coach would begin and a new coach would be named by the middle of August.

“It’s really out of our hands. We’ve done all we can think of doing,” Brenneman said.

The most obvious candidate considered for the position is Hunt. Although Hunt was named as the interim coach, he has yet to be offered the position.

“(Hunt) was the person you went and talked to,” junior distance runner Stephanie Blackstone said. “He is just like psycho track-and-field. He absolutely loves it and it shows in every vein of his body.”

Although Hunt has definitely been considered for the position, it is NCAA policy to conduct a nationwide search for a new coach.

Even before the search began, the team already looked to Hunt as their head coach.

“When I think of coach, I think of Brad,” Blackstone said. “It’s hard to think that he might not be there in the near future”

Blackstone’s 28th-place finish clinched the Mid-American Conference Championship for the Flashes in the Fall 2004 season.

“It’s bad because finally our programs are becoming more and more successful,” Brenneman said. “We heard from the administration that we’re the most successful teams on campus.”

Women’s cross country was also picked in a MAC preseason poll to win the MAC championship this season.

Despite all of the coaching changes, Hunt hasn’t adjusted the season.

“With everything that’s happened, Brad’s attitude hasn’t changed at all,” Blackstone said. “He still looks at our team and knows how good we can be. We won the MAC last year and now for the first time in history we were picked to win the MAC. It is weird, because we’re used to being the underdogs.”

Having the potential change scares the team, Brenneman said.

“We just dedicate so much time out of our lives to athletics and now that we lost a coach and that we’re getting ready to possibly have a whole different coaching staff, it’s scary,” Brenneman said.

In many programs, when a new head coach is hired, a whole new coaching staff is brought to the program.

“I’d be all about it if I didn’t think that we already had the best coach,” said Brenneman.

With or without a new head coach, the men’s and women’s seasons officially begin at the Miami Invitational on Sept. 10.

“I don’t want them to rush it. It would be nice to know, but once that happens, everything’s going to change,” Brenneman said. “Even if it was Brad, things are still going to change. It’s hard because we don’t know what’s going through their heads. We’re just wondering, ‘OK what’s next?’”

Contact assistant sports editor Kali Price at [email protected].