2013 Cross Country
Head Coach Karen Brandt
Contact Information for Coach Brandt
Office phone: 419-358-3898
Karen Brandt, who coached the Bloomsburg (Pa.) University women's cross country team to the NCAA Division II national championship meet in 2007, is in her third season as Bluffton University's head coach of men's and women's cross country and track and field. In just her first season at the helm, the Bluffton cross country women placed 5th out of the 10 conference teams, which marked the best conference finish the Beavers have had since they took 5th in 2005. The women were just five points shy of fourth place.
Coach Brandt has been an integral component in Bluffton's recent upswing for both cross country and track and field. In her second year as head coach, she saw both the men's and women's records fall for cross country. The men's squad put together their best Heartland Conference finish in eight years thanks to a group that now occupies three of Bluffton's top six spots all-time. Continuing the improvements in the spring, 11 school records went down, including Jeff Parker's throw of 190-6 that propelled him to his second straight Heartland Conference title in the javelin.
Brandt, who earned a master's degree in American studies from the Pennsylvania State University Capital College, Harrisburg, in 1997, coached at Bloomsburg from 1999-2009. Her 2007 women's cross country team finished 15th in the national meet, capping a season in which the squad was champion of both the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) and the NCAA Division II East Region, and Brandt was conference and regional coach of the year. That team included the first female cross country all-American in school history.
During her decade at Bloomsburg, the Everett, Pa., resident coached three other all-Americans, two in the women's 10,000-meter run and one, two-time honoree in men's cross country; four national cross country championship qualifiers; eight female qualifiers for the national track and field championship; eight PSAC track champions; and numerous all-PSAC and all-region cross country runners, all-conference track athletes, and all-academic individuals and teams honored by the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
After leaving Bloomsburg, Brandt coached at Indiana Tech in Fort Wayne from 2009-10 and, more recently, was an English and mathematics teacher in a residential program for girls in Warfordsburg, Pa. Her year-plus at Indiana Tech produced 35 NAIA national qualifying performances and seven all-American finishes in two indoor track seasons; 17 national qualifiers and seven all-Americans in one outdoor track season; and one male national qualifier in one cross country season.
A five-time qualifier for the Boston Marathon, Brandt has also coached track and cross country at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pa., from 1998-99, and at Lower Dauphin High School in Hummelstown, Pa., from 1991-97. From 1989-98, she taught English and public speaking at Elizabethtown (Pa.) Area High School.
Assistant Coach Bryson Hartzler
Contact info for Coach Hartzler
Office phone: 419-358-3031
Bryson Hartzler is entering his second season at Bluffton as the assistant with the Track and Field and Cross Country programs.
Hartzler was a two-year letterwinner at Penn State-Behrend where he qualified for the NCAA DIII nationals as a sophomore in the high jump. After transferring to Penn State University-Park he also qualified provisionally for DI nationals as a senior, with a jump of 7-1.5. While at Penn State he earned a B.S. in kinesiology and served as an intern strength and conditioning coach with Penn State's Olympic sports. Hartzler also spent a season with the track program at Mifflin County High School (PA) where he had immediate success, including multiple state qualifiers.
Hartzler resides in Bluffton where he is pursuing his master's in business administration.
Assistant Coach Jim Brandt
Contact info for Coach Jim Brandt
Office phone: 419-358-3031
James Brandt will be coaching alongside his wife, Karen Brandt, the head cross country and track and field coach at Bluffton University. During their coaching tenure at Division II Bloomsburg University (Bloomsburg, PA), the Brandts saw much success with the distance-based program of the Huskies. Their achievements included four All-American athletes; the first women's team to win the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference cross country championship, the NCAA East Region championship, and to earn a team berth at the NCAA Division II Cross Country National Championship.
Prior to their time at Bloomsburg University, the Brandts coached at Lower Dauphin High School (Hummelstown, PA) where they rebuilt their teams to cross country division champions and saw individuals advance to state podium positions in both track and cross country.
The Brandts are also currently coaching two post-collegiate athletes who started running for them as 9th graders at Lower Dauphin. Both are competing at the marathon distance with one qualified for the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials. She accomplished this goal by running 2:45 in only her second marathon. As part of her training plan, she ran 57:54 in the Army Ten Miler and was named the 2011 Air Force Athlete of the Year.
Both Karen and Jim have set their sights on developing the Bluffton University cross country and track and field teams into a perennial power in the HCAC. Additionally, they will work to motivate their student-athletes toward top academic success as well.