Home EMU announces resignation of track and field coach

EMU announces resignation of track and field coach


emu sportsEastern Mennonite University has announced the resignation of head cross country/track & field coach Britten Olinger. He has accepted a position as the head coach of track and field at Montreat College. Olinger’s last day at EMU will be June 30.

Olinger recently completed his fifth year in Harrisonburg, and first as the Royals’ head mentor. He also spend four seasons as an assistant under previous coach Jason Lewkowicz.

Director of Athletics Dave King said Olinger played a big part in the recent resurgence of the EMU program.

“While disappointed in losing a promising, young coach, I am grateful for Britten’s willingness to step into the head coaching position when former head coach Jason Lewkowicz left, and continue the growth of the program,” King said. “He made that transition seamless which reduced the amount of adjustment needed by team members. Britten was a hard worker, very thorough in his planning and very relational with the diversity of students in the program.”

Olinger said his time at Eastern Mennonite will leave a lasting impression.

“My time at EMU has been a major blessing in my life,” he explained. “I proposed to my wife here, earned my first college job, had our first child and created a respected and successful running program. These athletes at EMU mean the world to me, but I know they are going to be taken care of.”

In 2010-11, the year before Olinger arrived on campus, EMU had just five total cross country runners and 13 track & field athletes. This past year, the Royals had 22 men and women run cross country and 55 participate in track & field. Eastern Mennonite sent six athletes to an NCAA national meet, with senior runner Hannah Chappell-Dick (Bluffton, Ohio) highlighting efforts by finishing her career with five All-America honors.

Thrower Jeremy Heizer (Staunton, Va./Riverheads) went to indoor nationals in the shot put, while Alec Thibodeaux (Mount Sidney, Va./Fort Defiance) and Kat Lehman (Dover, Ohio/Dover) were on the cross country big stage.

“Being a part of the rebuilding processes here is something I’ll cherish,” said Olinger. “Everyone in this program worked so hard to make this something this university could be proud of. I believe the program has achieved that and will work to carry the torch for the university.”

The Royals have been just as impressive for their work in the classroom and community. Chappell-Dick and men’s runner Tyler Denlinger (Perkasie, Pa./Christopher Dock) combined to win five of six possible ODAC/Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Scholar-Athlete awards, with the All-American also winning the ODAC’s Marjorie Berkley Award as the top female scholar-athlete.

King said that Olinger’s work will benefit his successor.

“During his time at EMU, Britten has been responsible for increasing both the breadth and depth of the track and field teams which has allowed the Royals to progress upward in team rankings at the conference and regional level,” King said. “At the same time, there has been a lot of individual success on the national stage in cross country, indoor and outdoor track & field. He has been an integral part of the resurgence of the running programs at EMU and we will immediately begin searching for the best person to continue the rapid development of EMU cross country and track & field.”



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