Title winner Sturman named Central track and field coach

Central Dutch Athletics

Central Dutch Athletics

PELLA—Brandon Sturman, who piloted Aurora University (Ill.) to five indoor and outdoor men’s and women’s conference championships in two seasons, is the new head coach of Central College’s nationally prominent men’s and women’s track and field squads.

Sturman replaces Joe Dunham, who will focus on his duties as men’s and women’s cross country coach after a title-filled 10-year run. He piloted the Dutch to eight Iowa Conference men’s indoor and outdoor track and field crowns, including the 2018 outdoor title secured last month en route to a 12th-place finish at the NCAA Division III Championships in La Crosse, Wisconsin May 24-26. Two Central athletes won national titles this year.

Sturman, who has won five Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference coach of the meet awards, led the Spartans to the men’s and women’s outdoor conference championships in May after earlier taking the women’s indoor title as well. In 2017, his athletes won a pair of individual NCAA Division III titles with one national second-place finish. Aurora tied for sixth in the Division III men’s indoor team standings and finished 12th in the nation in the outdoor meet while the Aurora women placed 13th outdoors.

A Brookeville, Maryland native, Sturman was a two-year football team captain at Valparaiso University (Ind.) where he played middle linebacker for the 2003 Pioneer Football League champs and graduated in 2006. He received a master’s degree there in 2008. Sturman was a graduate assistant football coach at Valparaiso for two seasons, then served as an assistant football coach and strength and conditioning coordinator at Aurora from 2008-13. He was also a part-time assistant track and field coach in that span. In 2014, he gave up his other duties to become head assistant men’s and women’s cross country and track and field coach before taking over as head men’s and women’s track and field coach in 2016.

“We’re committed to fielding nationally competitive track and field programs for both men and women at Central and think we’ve found the ideal person to continue leading that effort in Brandon,” said athletics director Eric Van Kley. “He’s highly respected at Aurora, where he’s had tremendous success and his men’s and women’s teams are equally competitive. He’s an energetic recruiter who puts a priority on building large squad sizes, as we do at Central, and has recruited student-athletes from across the country.

“Most importantly, he’s built tremendous relationships with his student-athletes and is committed to their development on and off the track.”

That’s a priority, Sturman said.

“The number one key is your relationship with your student-athletes,” he said. “It’s obviously, recruiting talented kids but also being able to communicate with them. Everyone’s a little different physically and mentally. You take what you know and work with them individually but at the same time, you need to bring them together as a group so that you can create a culture of competitiveness and winning so that everybody is excited and pushing each other to ultimately reach your goals.”

At Central, Sturman inherits a program that has captured 18 individual national men’s track and field titles and 11 individual women’s NCAA crowns. The Dutch men have posted 14 outdoor top-20 national team finishes and five indoor, including a second-place effort in the 2011 indoor championships and a third- place finish in the 2000 outdoor meet. They’ve claimed 18 Iowa Conference outdoor team crowns and five indoor titles. The Central women have nine top-20 national outdoor team finishes and three indoor, including the 1982 national outdoor title with a second-place showing in 1984. They’ve taken five outdoor conference team championships.

Sturman has his sights set even higher. He’s eyeing national titles.

“It’s definitely a goal of mine,” he said. “It should be a goal of everyone within their sport. I think it’s definitely within our grasp. The team is doing a lot of things very well, it just seems like there are a few areas where the team has come up short and hopefully that’s where I can come in and help.”

Sturman will lead a deep and experienced coaching staff that includes a pair of veteran collegiate head coaches in Dunham and associate head coach Jim Fuller. Dunham will continue working with the squad’s distance runners. Fuller, who joined the Central staff in 2013, spent 24 highly successful seasons as head coach at NCAA Division II Northern State University (S.D.). He works with Central’s multi-event athletes, a traditional area of strength for the Dutch. Sturman, who focused on the sprints, jumps and hurdles at Aurora, will work closely with those events at Central as well.

“With Coach Sturman, Coach Fuller and Coach Dunham, along with our other specialized assistant coaches, we think we have one of the most talented and knowledgeable track and field coaching staffs in the country,” Van Kley said. “Our student-athletes will receive tremendous instruction and lots of individual attention.”

Sturman said having coaches like Fuller and Dunham on staff is unique.

“They’ll still kind of be head coaches, in a sense, with the way it’s broken up,” he said. “It’s definitely a positive and will benefit me, being able to learn from two guys with their backgrounds.

“And to have so many assistant coaches who can make it to all the practices and meets, I think that’s what really separates us. The staff is going to be there constantly for our athletes.”

Sturman begins his duties June 25.

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Posted by on Jun 15 2018. Filed under College Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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