Andy Sneddon, CMUChippewas.com
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – In four years, Mark Guthrie put the Central Michigan track & field and cross country programs on solid financial footing and on the path to competitiveness.
Guthrie, CMU’s Director of Track & Field and Cross Country, announced on Wednesday that he will leave CMU for the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, where he will become that institutions’ external relations coordinator position.
Central Michigan will immediately begin a nationwide search for his replacement.
“The program is in good shape,” said Guthrie, who will depart CMU on June 13. “When I took over there were a lot of issues and concerns and I think we provided a direction. Through the work we’ve done along with the administration, we’re now in a position where we’re financially equal with all the teams in the MAC. I think the future’s bright.
“A lot of people have helped the programs in the four years I’ve been here, and a lot of people have gone to bat across campus at a time when finances are pretty tight.”
Guthrie shepherded in an influx of young talent that is fully expected to pay dividends, both in track & field and in cross country, in the coming seasons.
“We’re a deeper team and we’re better team, and we’re a team with more talent than when we arrived here,” he said. “The MAC has gotten stronger and we need to continue to develop our recruiting ties.
“We have bright young people that we’ve brought in which is evidenced by the academic successes that we’ve had.”
Under Guthrie, the Chippewas have earned more than 100 Academic All-MAC honors, six U.S. Track & Field Cross Country Coaches Association All-Academic Team Awards, three USTFCCCA All-Academic Individual Awards, and one MAC Distinguished Scholar-Athlete Award.
During Guthrie’s tenure, the Chippewas have set 17 indoor and outdoor track & field program records, have had 11 All-MAC cross country runners, three Chippewas have earned the MAC Freshman of the Year Award in track & field, one was named the Outstanding Field Performer Award at the MAC Outdoor Championships, eight have won titles at the MAC Outdoor Track & Field Championships, and two earned All-America honors in track & field.
The Chippewa men finished sixth and the women were 10th last weekend in the MAC Outdoor Championships. It was a disappointing showing, but understandable in light of the number of potentially strong performers that Guthrie and his staff had elected to redshirt this season.
“We left a lot of points at home,” he said. “I think we’re in a position to battle for third to fourth in the MAC in the future. I’m proud of that. Next year in cross country, for the men, I think they’re going to top three, if not top two. And top four or top five for the women’s team.
“We’ve steadily improved ourselves in track & field and in cross country to where I think we can be competitive. We’ve made progress. It’s been slower, but it’s been more stable, and I’m happy with that.”
The move back to Wisconsin puts Guthrie and his wife Dawn closer to their daughters and their respective families, who live in Minnesota.
Guthrie, a member of the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame, led the UW-La Crosse men’s program to 22 national titles – 12 indoors, 10 outdoors – during his 19 years in charge of the program. Prior to Guthrie’s arrival at CMU, he spent seven years as an assistant at Wisconsin, where he helped lead the Badger men to the NCAA indoor national title in 2007.
“I’m proud of the athletes at CMU,” Guthrie said. “Forty-two years of coaching, when the time comes you know. It’s time to move on. This is a new challenge.”