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Jan. 27 - BETHANY, W.Va. – Bethany College Director of Athletics Tim Weaver announced Wednesday that Brandon Spalding, a former national championship qualifier at Bridgewater (Va.) College, has been chosen as the new head men’s and women’s cross country coach, as well as assistant track and field coach.

Spalding, who completed his USA Track & Field Level I Coaching Certification in 2007, replaces Matt Abel, who resigned in early January. The combination of Spalding’s athletic success, coaching certification and drive led Weaver and the school to select him to try to raise the cross country and track and field programs towards the top of the PAC.

“Brandon’s experience and success as a distance runner, as well as his family’s extensive experience in track and cross country, make him a good fit for our program at this time,” said Weaver. “We’re excited to have Brandon help us build our programs.”

After spending one year at Virginia Wesleyan, Spalding transferred to Bridgewater, where he was three-time First Team All-ODAC honoree in cross country and also earned All-South-Southeast Region from 2006-08. As a sophomore in 2006, he placed fifth overall at the NCAA South-Southeast Regional meet to automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships, just the third runner in Bridgewater history to qualify for nationals.

On the track, Spalding earned four all-conference honors in his career. As a sophomore, he was Second Team All-ODAC in the 5000 and Distance Medley Relay. After earning a repeat of Second Team laurels in the Distance Medley in 2008, Spalding closed out his senior year with Second Team All-Conference distinction in the 5000. He still owns a share of the Bridgewater Indoor Distance Medley Relay Record and at one time, owned the school marks for the indoor 3000- and 5000-meter runs.

Since graduating from Bridgewater in May, 2009, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Health and Exercise Science, Spalding has continued to add on to his running achievements. In Oct., he posted a time of 2:59 at the Marine Corp Marathon, which qualified him for the Boston Marathon.

Getting his first head coaching position at a school like Bethany is exactly where Spalding wanted to get his start and he relishes the chance to work with student-athletes at a small liberal arts college, which he has been exposed to for a much of life.

“I’ve known I wanted to get into coaching since I was in high school,” said Spalding, whose mother has been involved with athletics for 20 years at Mary Baldwin College, a women’s college in Staunton, Va., and is currently the athletic director and head cross country coach. “I am a firm believer in the Division III philosophy and I see a lot of positives in Bethany’s rich athletic tradition and where the cross country and track programs can go.”

Among the positives that Spalding sees at the school include a renovated track and field facility, which was completed prior to the 2008 academic year, and a broad-based academic program that will prepare students for the challenges that await them following graduation.

“(Head Track & Field) Coach (Andy) Upton told me that we feel if we can get students to visit campus, we have a good chance to get them and I see why,” said Spalding. “Athletically-speaking, Bethany has one of the best facilities around with the new Mondo surface, the Steeplechase area, the lights. It has everything that high-quality track and field athletes should want in a small college facility.

“And on the academic-side, Bethany has over 30 majors and pre-professional programs,” said Spalding. “Academics will come first for our students-athletes, because we want to get them to graduation, prepare them for a professional life after graduation and hopefully along the way, achieve the athletic success we’re all striving to reach.”

Although he missed the cross country season, Spalding believes getting to know and work with the runners through track season will help him prepare for next fall when he begins his first season heading up the Bison harriers. And while the women’s team will have to replace three seniors, having freshman Erin Reske (Fishers, Ind./Hamilton Southeastern), who earned Second Team All-PAC last fall, coming back is a good start for this initial season.

“I think this indoor and outdoor track season will be a good transition period to learn about the distance runners before diving into the cross country job next fall,” said Spalding. “On the women’s side, we have someone we can build the program around in Erin Reske, who has already earned all-conference honors as a freshman.

“My ultimate goals are to finish at the top of the conference, get regionally ranked and take a team to national championships,” said Spalding. “But in talking to Coach Weaver and Coach Upton, I know both programs, especially the men’s, need to grow, so our main objective the first couple years is to get bodies and build up depth. Then within two to four years, hopefully we can start bringing in some all-state runners who may have been overlooked or who want to take advantage of everything Bethany has to offer.”