Spartans kick off season in Mount Pleasant
MSU women set to defend Big Ten title
Caleb Rhynard earns first All-American honors with 34th-place finish.
Caleb Rhynard and the Spartan women look to represent MSU on national stage.
Rhynard earns automatic individual bid to Nationals with fourth-place overall finish.
Walt Drenth was appointed director of the men's and women's track and field and cross country programs on June 2, 2006. He was named interim head coach of the men's track and field program on Jan. 30, 2006 and assumed the position full-time on May 11.
Drenth was responsible for a drastic turnaround of the cross country programs during his tenure at Arizona State. Prior to his arrival, ASU's women had never made a team appearance at nationals, never earned a national ranking and never produced an All-American. For good measure, the Sun Devil women had yet to finish higher than sixth at the West Regional since 1986 and had only mustered three finishes better than seventh at the Pac-10 meet.
The men also had never made a team appearance at nationals, had never earned a national ranking, had finished higher than seventh at the Pac-10 Championships only three times and higher than seventh at the West Regional only once prior to 1996.
After taking the reins, the ASU women made trips to the NCAA Championships six years in a row (1998-2003) including a school-best sixth-place finish in 2000. They also were regional runners-up twice and placed third twice, and at the Pac-10 Championships had four runner-up finishes and two other top-four finishes. ASU was ranked as high as No. 3 in the nation during the 2001 season, and had a streak of four straight years (1998-2001) in which a Sun Devil earned All-America honors. For his efforts, Drenth was named Pac-10 Women's Cross Country Coach of the Year in 1999 and 2000, and was also selected as the West Region Women's Cross Country Coach of the Year in 2000.
Under Drenth's tutelage, the ASU men had five top-four finishes at the Pac-10 Championships and placed in the top five regionally four times. The Sun Devils made two trips to the NCAA Championships (1999, 2001), finishing as high as 14th in 1999. Drenth also coached Fasil Bizuneh to All-American honors twice (1999, 2001), and ASU was ranked as high as ninth nationally during the 1999 season.
Prior to his arrival, ASU had two All-Americans total between the men (2) and women (0). In just eight seasons ASU runners earned All-American honors eight times. Drenth also coached the first female Sun Devil harrier to be named Pac-10 Athlete of the Year and NCAA West Region Athlete of the Year, and he helped both one male and one female runner earn the program's first Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year awards. Before 1996, six Sun Devils earned all-conference. During Drenth's eight seasons, 15 student-athletes earned 20 selections to the first or second team, and 32 times a Sun Devil earned All-Region honors.
Drenth also made an impact on the track at ASU. In his tenure, the Sun Devils had eight NCAA Top 20 finishes and his athletes received All-American honors 16 times. The ASU men's teams finished fourth or higher at the Pac-10 Championships each of the past five years, while the women placed fifth or better each of the last five seasons.
In the classroom, three Sun Devils were named Academic All-American in cross country and three more in track and field, while his cross country teams were named Team Academic All-American with Distinction (team grade-point average of 3.25 or above) four times.
Before going to Arizona State, Drenth led the William & Mary men to five Colonial Athletic Association cross country titles and two track and field crowns in six years (1990-95). He was named CAA Cross Country Coach of the Year on five occasions, including each of his last four seasons in Williamsburg. He also was tabbed as District II Coach of the Year in 1990 and 1995. William & Mary was the District II champion in cross country in 1990.
Drenth's harriers also competed at three NCAA Championship meets in 1990 (15th), 1994 (18th) and 1995 (17th). On the track, Drenth led William & Mary to two CAA titles (1992, 1993). He tutored two All-American cross country runner and eight All-America distance runners in his six seasons in Williamsburg.
Prior to his stint at William & Mary, Drenth was the head cross country coach and assistant track coach at his alma mater, Central Michigan University, from 1985-90. He was named District IV Coach of the Year in 1989 after leading CMU harriers to the District IV title. He led the Chippewas to two Mid-American Conference titles, in 1988 and 1989 and was named MAC Cross Country Coach of the Year both years. Drenth also led CMU to three successive Central Collegiate Conference titles from 1987-89, and was selected Central Collegiate Cross Country Coach of the Year all three years. He coached two cross country All-Americans and three All-Americans on the track.
Before heading back to CMU, Drenth was an assistant coach at two Michigan high schools, Charlevoix and Ypsilanti, for a year-and-a-half each.
He earned his bachelor's degree in psychology and political science from CMU in 1981 and his master's in physical education from CMU in 1990. Drenth and his wife, Cara, have two children, Emma and Gerrit.