Thursday, December 2, 2021

2 new coaches named for '04

August 25, 2004

One coach out and two new in.

That's the story line this fall for the MSU men's and women's cross country teams.

For the past 20 years Jim Stintzi has coached the Spartans men's cross country team, while he shored up the duties of being the woman's coach for the past four years. Stintzi was recently hired on as the women's head cross country and track coach at Wisconsin - his alma mater.

But for the first time in four years, the men's and women's teams will have separate head coaches. Enter MSU men's cross country head coach Walt Drenth and MSU women's cross country head coach Rita Arndt-Molis.

Both new coaches are natives of Michigan - Drenth from Charlevoix and Arndt-Molis from Saline - that have strayed the Great Lakes state for posts in warmer climates. For the past eight seasons Drenth has been the head men's and women's cross country coach at Arizona State. For Arndt-Molis she leaves an assistant coaching position at South Florida, the college she eventually graduated from after transferring after a running stint at MSU from 1996-98.

"It's a dream situation," Arndt-Molis said of herself and husband returning to Michigan. "We have a family base and friends here."

Last season as an assistant, Arndt-Molis helped lead South Florida to a third place Conference-USA finish. Last season, the MSU women did a bit better, placing second in the Big Ten. Arndt-Molis, although having great respect for Conference-USA, understands the Big Ten is a tougher league and she expects her team to continue where Stintzi left off last season.

"It's a competitive conference. Conference-USA is a great conference," Arndt-Molis said. "The Big Ten is obviously more competitive. (MSU) has a really good team assembled that is full of promise and talent."

While at Arizona State, Drenth turned around a program with little success. Drenth led the Arizona State women's cross country team to the NCAA Championships six years in a row. On the men's side, Drenth took Arizona State to two NCAA Championships. Last season the MSU men's cross country team finished tied for seventh place in the Big Ten.

Both coaches will serve as assistants to the track and field teams come spring.

"I'm excited to move back to that part of the country and for the opportunity to see if I can continue the successes of coach Stintzi," Drenth said in a released statement. "I'm looking forward to working with (MSU men's track and field coach) Darroll (Gatson) to see how competitive we can get the program to become."

Both teams open the season Sept. 3 at the Saginaw Valley Invitational.

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