The Sooners will enter 2013 with a new coaching team heading the cross country program. Head Coach Jim VanHootegem enters his first season with the Oklahoma after serving for nine seasons as an assistant coach for the track and field and cross country programs at Texas A&M. While at Texas A&M, VanHootegem helped coach the Aggies to seven team NCAA championships and 14 conference championships.
Joining him is Jason Dunn, who was named associate head cross country coach in July and will help lead both the men and women cross country teams in 2013. Both will make their first appearances when the team opens its season at the Hurricane Invitational.
Before coming to OU, Dunn coached at the University of Kentucky, working as the head coach of the men's cross country team and assisting with coaching the middle-distance and distance portions of the combined track and field program. Before his stint Kentucky, Dunn worked at Stanford, Virginia, Arizona State and his alma mater of William & Mary.
“With me coming in as a new coach, and our whole staff being new, I hope it is an exciting time for the team, as it is for us,” said Dunn. “It is the time to establish the beginning of a new era in our program.”
VanHootegem and Dunn take over a men’s team that enters 2013 coming off one of the most successful seasons in the program’s history. The Sooners won the NCAA Regional Championship, finished fourth at the Big 12 Championships and placed eighth at the NCAA Championships in November.
After graduating many contributors from last season, both the men and women’s team welcome many fresh faces this year. For the men, junior Brandon Doughty and senior Patrick Gomez are the team’s top returners.
“The guys that are here are very excited,” explained Dunn. “We have got some new transfers that I think can contribute right away; everybody is in a good place right now.”
The men’s team begins the 2013 season ranked seventh regionally as well as receiving several votes nationally.
The women’s team is led by Academic All Big 12 senior Hilary Krein who is joined by a host of new runners.
As the cross country program brings in the 2013 season with change, there are new goals and new reasons to be excited about Oklahoma cross country.
“On the women’s side, we really want to take some steps towards establishing this program to become a national level team,” said Dunn. “As for the men, we want to get back to the national meet and we want to be competitive in the Big 12.”
“I think we will have a good chance to do well this year, and we will evaluate our goals a little more specifically as we get closer to the championship season.”
The Sooners open up the 2013 season Aug. 31 at the Hurricane Invitational in Tulsa, Okla.