Joni Sanders named head women's cross country coach at IUPUI

SportsHistoryArts and CultureScott WilliamsBen Davis

INDIANAPOLIS - The IUPUI Department of Athletics announced that Joni Sanders has been named Head Women's Cross Country Coach. Sanders served as assistant coach for both the IUPUI men's and women's teams this past season and brings 11 years of high school coaching experience to the program.

She becomes the third head coach in the 12-year history of the program and replaces Scott Williams, who had led the squad the past nine seasons.

"Joni is the right individual to continue the positive growth of the women's cross country program," IUPUI Director of Athletics Mike Moore said. "Her background and experience are a perfect match for IUPUI. I look forward to great things, both academically and athletically."

"I'm excited about the opportunity," Sanders said. "I took more and more of the responsibility of the day-to-day practices of the women throughout the fall. Now that I know all of the women well, I look forward to the goals we've already started to set for next fall."

In Sanders' first season with the Jaguars, sophomore Brittney McDuffee (Plainfield, Ind./Plainfield) became just the third All-Conference student-athlete in the program's history by finishing 12th overall and setting a new 6K record in the process. She covered the course in a time of 21:59.2, becoming the first IUPUI runner to eclipse the 22-minute mark at that distance.

"We have an incredible freshman class right now and great leadership and talent from Brittney McDuffee and Jennie Jamicich," Sanders said. "I definitely think it's a program on the rise. We had a lot of improvement this year from our returning runners. The freshmen now know what it's like to run a 6K and to run a longer season - all of those things will pay off.

"And I think the women are a little hungrier for success than they were a year ago at this time."

Prior to coming to IUPUI, Sanders was the girls cross country coach at Whiteland High School during the 2006-07 season, where she also taught psychology, sociology and U.S. history. Before that, Sanders spent 10 years as Pike High School, coaching both track and cross country.

She helped the Pike girls to an IHSAA state runner-up finish in track in 1999 and was a two-time Conference Indiana Track Coach of the Year. In 2006, she was awarded the Metropolitan School District of Pike Township District Coach of the Year award. While at Pike, she instructed multiple state qualifiers. The Shelbyville, Ind.-native also served as a member of the Indiana Cross Country All-Star Coaching Staff for the Mid-East Meet of Champions from 2001 to 2007 and was on the Indiana Track & Field All-Star staff from 1999 through 2002.

Sanders graduated from Butler in 1996 with her degree in Secondary Education. She was a four-year letterwinner and two-time team captain on the Bulldogs cross country and track teams. She earned three consecutive CC/Track Mental Attitude Awards, was the BU Freshman Athlete of the Year and track team's Most Valuable Runner as a rookie.

She recently completed her Master's Degree in School Counseling from IUPUI and is a counselor at the Ben Davis High School Career Center. Sanders will begin her coaching duties immediately.

The Jaguars will begin their spring campaign on Feb. 14 at the DePauw Indoor Invitational in Greencastle, Ind.

Read Also: Scott Williams resigns as head cross country coach at IUPUI

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