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Wendel McRaven named cross country coach

May 17, 2011
Wendel McRaven

Wendel McRaven

Wendel McRaven, a 20-year veteran of collegiate cross country and track and field coaching, has been named Northern Illinois University’s new head women’s cross country coach.

McRaven has spent the last six years as the men’s cross country and distance coach at the University of Illinois.

“We are very excited to have coach McRaven join our track and field staff as our cross country head coach,” said Jeff Compher, associate vice president and director of athletics at NIU.

“He has a wealth of experience within our league and within our state. Having someone who has been a head coach at Illinois means a lot, I know that he has many good connections to NIU. Those connections are certainly helpful as he goes out and recruits student-athletes to come here. He built a championship program at Kent State and I believe he can do the same thing here at NIU.”

With the hiring of McRaven to lead the cross country program, NIU has promoted track and field head coach Connie Teaberry to the title of director of track and field.

“I have known Wendel for the last 14 years and he has always been acknowledged as a tremendous cross country coach,” Teaberry said. “We were in the MAC together when he was at Kent State and watching the success he had with that program, and then at Illinois, I thought that Wendel would be a great fit for Northern Illinois University. His coaching philosophy with cross country and distance programs is well-respected and I think that he will do great things here at NIU.

“The administration has made a commitment to making this program great, and in that process of figuring out how to go from where we are now to the top in the MAC, we had to make a change in our coaching structure,” Teaberry added. “We decided that having a head cross country coach would be the best way to do that.”

McRaven has been at Illinois since 2005 and has guided the Fighting Illini men’s cross country team to top-10 regional finishes in all six of his seasons at the helm, including a fifth-place finish this past fall.

McRaven has had three NCAA Championship qualifiers, including Trent Hoerr in 2007, who finished 16th at the national championship meet, to become Illinois’ highest-finisher since 1976 and the school’s first All-American since 1990.

On the track, McRaven has guided 12 Illinois athletes to the NCAA Regional Championships, including one national championship qualifier in 2007. McRaven also mentored Illinois’ Colin Mickow, who last summer won a silver medal in the 10,000-meter run for the United States at the North American, Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) Under-23 Championships.

Huskies women's cross country“I’m really excited; I think there is some tremendous potential here and I am excited about how they have created the new head cross country coach position,” McRaven said.

“I have some background in the Mid-American Conference, having been the head coach at Kent State, where we won a handful of conference championships and I see Northern Illinois as a place where the same thing can be done. It is closer to home for me and my family; my wife is a Northern Illinois alum, both of her parents are Northern Illinois alums, so it is like coming home.”

Prior to his time at Illinois, McRaven spent nine years at Kent State, including five seasons as the head coach of the track and field and cross country programs.

As the head coach of the Golden Flashes, McRaven guided the program to five Mid-American Conference titles, winning the men’s outdoor crown in 2004, the women’s outdoor championship in 2002 and 2005, the women’s indoor title in 2003 and the women’s cross country meet in 2004.

McRaven mentored 54 conference champions during his time as head coach at Kent State (48 individuals and six relays). The Golden Flashes had 66 NCAA Regional qualifiers during his tenure and nine NCAA All-Americans.

During his time at Kent State, McRaven earned numerous coaching accolades, including five Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year Awards. He was also named the Mondo/USTCA Great Lakes District Women’s Outdoor Coach of the Year in 2002 and the Men’s Outdoor Coach of the Year in 2004. McRaven earned Ohio Women’s Collegiate Cross Country Coach of the Year honors in 1999 and 2000.

McRaven began his coaching career at the University of Alabama, where he was an assistant coach from 1991-94. The Crimson Tide women’s track and field team won both the SEC Indoor and Outdoor conference championships in 1994 and also finished second at the NCAA Indoor Championships in 1994. The Alabama women’s cross country team qualified for the NCAA Championships in 1993.

Following his time at Alabama, McRaven became an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at the University of Nebraska from 1994-96. The Cornhuskers won three out of a possible four Big 8 team titles while he was a member of the staff and also finished second at the 1966 NCAA Indoor Championships

As a collegiate runner, McRaven was a member of three NCAA Division III National Championship teams at North Central College. He also earned Division III All-American honors in the 3,000-meter steeplechase in 1990.

McRaven earned his bachelor’s degree from North Central College in 1990 as an English major. He received his master’s degree in human performance studies from the University of Alabama in 1993.

For more information on NIU cross country and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.