13 NCAA Div. III individual championships
PELLA — Veteran Northern State University (S.D.) track and field coaches Jim Fuller and Brenda Fuller are joining the Central College staff.
Jim Fuller, Northern State’s head men’s and women’s track and field coach for the past 24 years, becomes Central’s associate head coach. His wife, Brenda Fuller, the program’s throwing events coach during that span, will serve as an assistant at Central.
The Fullers’ son, Aaron, is a senior on the Central track and field squad. Son Tyler is a senior at Simpson College while son Drew (6) is at home.
During the Fullers’ 24 seasons, Northern State has placed in the top 35 in the nation 20 times. Located in Aberdeen, S.D., Northern State was formerly an NAIA institution but is now in the NCAA Division II. Jim Fuller was also the Wolves’ cross country coach for 16 seasons. During his tenure, Northern State has placed in the top four in 99 of 127 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference championship track and cross country meets, winning six titles. He was named the NSIC coach of the year six times in track and five times in cross country, helping 815 athletes earn all-conference awards. Fuller’s athletes have received all-America distinction 54 times.
Brenda has coached 12 throwers who earned all-America honors, including a two-time national champ. She was tabbed as the USTFCCCA Division II Central Region assistant coach of the year in 2009. Her athletes have captured 74 NSIC throwing event titles.
“We’re extremely excited to get coaches with the background and experience of the Fullers,” interim athletics director Eric Van Kley said. “They’ve been tremendously successful but more important is the passion they have for teaching and educating students in all areas. They have a heart for serving young people and helping them develop.”
The Northern State women’s track and field and cross country teams have earned national academic team honors 17 consecutive years. The men’s and women’s squads have received academic honors a combined 41 times.
Jim Fuller said it was difficult decision to leave Northern State and to give up a Division II head coaching position. But he cherishes Division III values.
“I sent my son to a Division III school, so that should tell you what I think,” he said. “I think Division III has a more healthy balance between academics and athletics. I felt we kept that balance at Northern State, but I didn’t think a lot of teams in Division II did.”
Fuller is also excited about being a part of Central’s powerhouse program. In head coach Joe Dunham’s four seasons, he’s guided the Dutch to four straight Iowa Conference men’s outdoor track and field titles and two indoor crowns, with three NCAA Division III top-10 team finishes in the past two years, including a national runner-up finish at the 2011 men’s indoor meet. Dunham is a six-time conference coach of the year and was named the USTFCCCA Division III Central Region men’s outdoor coach of the year the past two seasons. During his tenure, Central athletes have won three individual national titles, received all-America honors 58 times and set 34 school records.
“Central wants to be competitive and shows that with its facilities and with its administration,” Fuller said. “I’m a competitive person and I want to help the athletes get on the track and do well. You can’t do that without facilities and resources. Central is willing to provide that and to help students reach their goals.”
Dunham is equally enthused.
“I couldn’t be happier,” he said. “They really fit perfectly within the staff and the program. They’re going to bring new ideas and new perspective to help us get even better.
“And I’m so excited about Brenda bringing us a female presence to our coaching staff for our athletes and the expertise she brings in the throws. She’ll work closely with (throwing events) coach (Allan) Walz and help us continue the success we’ve had in those events.”
Jim Fuller has extensive experience in coaching the multievents, long a Central strength. Ethan Miller won his second straight national decathlon title for the Dutch in May. It was Central’s sixth NCAA multievent crown and Dutch athletes have received all-America recognition in multievents 37 times.
“For the last 24 years I’ve coached the areas of the multievents,” Fuller said. “I enjoy the structure of it, the length of the competition and the type of kids you get in those events. You finish one event and 30 minutes later you move on to another one. It gives you a lot of variety in coaching. That’s fun.”
Fuller will also coach the sprints, another Central strength. The Dutch men were fifth in the 4x100-meter relay at the NCAA meet in May.
“Jim talks about the passion he has for teaching the technique and detail you need to be successful,” Dunham said. “That’s something we need at Central.
“I really appreciate Central’s amazing support in helping get these top-notch coaches here for our students. I’m so thankful to Eric Van Kley, to the human resources staff and the others in the administration who worked so hard to help get this done.”