On the heels of the two most successful years in the college’s cross country and track history while in NCAA Division II, the distance and throws coaches have left the program to pursue other opportunities.
Former distance coach Joe Lynn announced his departure from the team in mid-August, and is now an assistant coach at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Former throws coach Janine Kuestner announced her departure from the team in early June after her husband got a new job in the Cleveland, Ohio, area.
Middle distance coach Samantha Kearney has moved up to become the head distance coach, while former distance coach Richard White, who was first with the program from September 2011 through August 2014, has rejoined the team as assistant distance coach. A new throws coach has not yet been hired.
“As with any coaching change, we’re excited about where we’re headed in the future, while really appreciative of the time our coaches have put in,” said head cross country coach Andrew Towne.
He added: “We’re excited to have Coach White return to our staff … he’s familiar with the majority of our athletes, which will make for a smooth transition.”
During the two years Lynn and Kuestner were at Hillsdale, the program placed second and third at cross country nationals, second twice at indoor track nationals, and third once at outdoor track nationals. Both Lynn and Kuestner coached athletes who broke school records and earned All-American honors.
Lynn said the teams he coached were a “coach’s dream,” making his job easier and more enjoyable. He called Hayden Park and the dirt roads surrounding campus a runner’s paradise. He also said he plans to continue following the progression of his former athletes.
“There were some really tough decisions I had to make, but at the end of the day, just for me, from a professional standpoint, long-term wise, I felt the move to Miami was definitely something I had to take advantage of,” he said. “I think I’m leaving there knowing I’m a better person, and a better coach as well.”
Lynn plans to continue to coach former Hillsdale stand-out Emily Oren as she looks to continue running professionally.
Kuestner said she’s excited that her husband’s new job allows her to stay home with her young son, but also said it was not an easy decision to stop coaching at Hillsdale.
“I absolutely loved my time at Hillsdale. I loved the kids. That’s always the hardest part,” she said. “I felt like it was harder on me than it was on them, I was crying when I told them, because, as a coach, you invest so much of your heart and your mind and your time into your athletes.”
Kuestner also said that she felt blessed to be a part of the track program at a time when it was experiencing so much success, and added that, even with her son, she won’t be out of coaching for long.
“I’m pursuing potentially helping out with some local coaching,” she said, “I won’t be able to stay away from it.”