MONTREAT, NC – Montreat College Athletic Director Jose Larios has announced the hiring of Britten Olinger as the head coach of the men's & women's track & field teams.
Olinger is coming to Montreat from Eastern Mennonite University where he has spent the past five years. From 2011-2015, Olinger served as the assistant cross country/track & field coach under current Montreat Director of Cross Country/Track & Field Jason Lewkowicz. After Lewkowicz left his post at EMU to come to Montreat, Olinger was promoted to the head coach position for the 2015-2016 season.
Olinger helped transform an EMU program that had less than ten athletes when he arrived in 2011. By the time the 2015-2016 season rolled around, the program had grown to 55 and had attained tremendous team and individual success. This past season, Olinger's Royals had three individuals qualify for the NCAA Division III Cross Country National Championships with senior Hannah Chappell-Dick earning All-American honors. During the track season, there were three more national qualifiers and two more All-American performances. The men's indoor track & field team posted their highest team finish in a decade and highest point total since 2003. Seven EMU student-athletes were ranked in the top-50 nationally in their respective events while garnering ten individual conference titles and 19 All-ODAC performances. Olinger's squad also re-wrote the EMU record books as the team earned 77 top-ten placements while setting three school records.
At Montreat, Olinger will be re-united with Lewkowicz, who will continue to guide the cross country programs while providing oversight of the entire cross country/track & field program. The two have a long history, as Olinger competed in cross country under Lewkowicz at UVA-Wise, where he graduated with a degree in history. After serving as an assistant at UVA-Wise for a season, Olinger coached in the high school ranks where he had successful stints at Patrick Henry High School and Abingdon High School in Virginia before making the full jump to college coaching at EMU.
Coach Olinger said, "It is an honor and a blessing to be joining Jason Lewkowicz again, but more importantly to do so at Montreat College. A college who is Christ-centered in its pursuit of higher education. Thank you to Jose Larios and Jason Lewkowicz for believing in me and affording me this opportunity. There is a lot to be excited about the track & field program. We want to honor God through our program while also creating a winning culture. What better place for that to happen then at Montreat College?"
"I am thrilled that Britten is joining us at Montreat," said Lewkowicz. "I believe that Britten is a bright and talented young coach and is the perfect fit for what we are building here at Montreat. As good of a track coach as he is, he is an even better person and has a true heart to pour into the lives of student-athletes. He understands the Christ-centered mission of Montreat and shares my passion to use college athletics to develop young people, point them to the love of Christ, and to honor God through our competitive efforts.
Larios added, "We are excited to add Coach Olinger to our staff. His heart for our mission and his relational coaching style is precisely what we're seeking to grow our track & field program. His expertise in developing our sprints, hurdles, and jumps crew is strategic as we seek to grow into an all-around program."
Olinger will begin his duties at Montreat in July and will be joined by his wife Samantha and daughter.
GULF SHORES, AL - Montreat College sent two members of the men's track & field team to compete in the 2016 NAIA Outdoor Track & Field National Championships over the weekend in Alabama. Steven Anhold (SO/Churchville, VA) and Rylan Hincher (FR/North Wilkesboro, NC) made the trip to compete in the marathon after hitting a qualifying A standard in the half marathon earlier in the season.
Both athletes were making their debut at the 26.2 mile distance and were met by a talented field of 56 competitors and hot, muggy conditions that added to an already considerable challenge. Following a predetermined race plan to start in the back and work their way forward, the pair of teammates found themselves in the back of the pack at the 10-mile checkpoint. However, they soon began to make up ground and had moved up over 25 places by the 16-mile checkpoint. Anhold would surge ahead and make up more ground, battling fatigue over the final few miles to come through with a 23-rd place finish in a time of 2:58:51.50. Hincher began dealing with cramps around the 18-mile mark bur persevered over the grueling final miles to complete the course with a time of 3:14:40.00, good for 40th place.
"These guys got a rude welcome to the marathon today," said head coach Jason Lewkowicz. "The conditions were tough and got even worse when the sun came out around mile 19. With that said, I was so proud of how these two guys came out and competed. They followed the game-plan and stayed within themselves when the other guys got out early. And, true to form, they started reeling guys in around halfway through. The final miles were rough due to the conditions but the plan all along was to compete and cross the finish line, which they did. The experienced gained this year will do wonders for them as they get ready for next year. This was a great way to wrap up a wonderful season for Montreat College track & field."
GREENSBORO, NC - On the final day of the outdoor track & field regular season, the Montreat Cavaliers sent Erik Rodriguez (SR/Euless, Texas) to the North Carolina A&T Aggie Last Chance Invitational on Sunday to compete in the 800m. The senior, who will go down as one of the best to ever put on the Cavalier singlet, did not disappoint, wrapping up his stellar career with a personal best and new school-record time of 1:54.21. His effort placed him 13th overall in an excellent field of runners.
"I am very proud for how Erik came out and competed today," said head coach Jason Lewkowicz. "After missing much of the first month of the outdoor season with an injury, we weren't sure if we had enough time to get Erik back into top form but, with his determination and hard work, he set himself up to wrap up his time at Montreat with a new school record a day after receiving his degree. That sure makes for a great weekend! We will miss Erik's leadership, passion, and commitment and he has left a great legacy for our returning athletes to follow."
In a few weeks, Rodriguez will make the move to Illinois where he will begin graduate studies in bioethics at Trinity International University. He ends his time at Montreat as a NAIA National Qualifier, an AAC champion, and the holder of multiple school records and all-conference accolades.
With the regular season now complete, the Cavaliers will send Steven Anhold (SO/Churchville, VA) and Rylan Hincher (FR/North Wilkesboro, NC) to compete at the 2016 NAIA Outdoor Track & Field National Championships, which take place May 26-28 in Gulf Shores, AL. Both men will compete in the marathon after attaining the automatic qualifying standard for the event last month.