Head Coach Brady Bonsall
With the start of the 2017-18 school year, Brady Bonsall enters his 11th season as the head men’s and women’s cross country coach and his10th year running the Nebraska-Kearney track & field programs.
During his time at UNK, he has seen student-athletes qualify for the NCAA Championships in both cross country and track, set numerous school records and earn All-American and Academic All-American honors.
Bonsall was named the head cross country coach in June 2007. Upon his hiring, he was also named an assistant track coach, mainly working with the long distance runners.11431
Before the start of the 2008 season, he was promoted to be then head coach Andy Meyer’s co-head coach. Following Meyer’s retiring in 2010, Bonsall head track & field coach.
In cross country, Bonsall has seen success on both the men’s and women’s sides. During his tenure, seven individuals (six men and one woman) have qualified for the NCAA's, two earning All-American honors.
The 2013 Loper men, making the program's first national appearance in 14 years, finished 17th in a meet held in Spokane, Wash.
A year later, UNK was again ranked nationally throughout the season and finished as MIAA runners up. The Lopers then returned to the NCAA's in 2015, finishing 15th. This was after the squad had won the MIAA title, helping Bonsall be named the league Coach of the Year.
Last fall, Jahn Landrigan and Andrew Fields both qualified with the Lopers finishing sixth out of 25 teams in the Central Region.
Back in 2010, Al Sanabria became the first Loper man to earn Division II All-American honors in 15 years. He has since gone on to run in international competitions for Costa Rica.
The 2008 season saw the men’s team record their highest finish at the NCAA Central Regional in eight years. Since then, the Loper men have finished in the top 10 eight straight years.
In 2009, Tanner Fruit became the first Loper to qualify for the NCAA's since 2004. The following season, Fruit again qualified, along with Sanabria. The Ogallala native has continued to run, taking part in the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.
During Bonsall’s first season in 2007, the women’s cross team earned their first national ranking at the Division II level. They also finished runner-up at the Roy Griak Invitational in Minnesota, which is UNK’s biggest regular-season meet.
More recently, UNK was runner up at the 2013 MIAA Championships, the highest finish ever for a Loper women's cross team in a league meet at the D2 level.
Individually, Morgan Benesch became UNK's first-ever Division II cross country All-American when she placed 27th at the 2015 meet in Missouri. She repeated as an All-American in 2016, finishing 31st, after winning the MIAA title.
On the track, Bonsall has seen even greater success coaching the distance runners and long sprinters. Including all the event areas, he has coached 12 All-Americans, 14 MIAA individual champions and 20 school records have fallen in his tenure.
A four-time RMAC (Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) Men’s Track & Field Coach of the Year, Bonsall has also been named the Women’s C.O.Y. twice.
As co-head coach in 2010, Bonsall helped lead the UNK men to their first outdoor RMAC title. The team repeated as they placed first at the 2011 RMAC indoor meet.
In 2014, the Loper men were at it again, finishing runner up at the MIAA indoor meet and placing third in the spring. Including the cross country team's strong fall, UNK ranked 10th nationally in total program standing.
Indiviudally, Michelle (Dill) May became the first Loper woman to earn NCAA All-American status in a distance running event as she was seventh in both the mile (indoors) and 1,500 (outdoors) at the 2008 NCAA meets. Off the track, she was named a CoSIDA Academic All-American.
Named the 2010 Central Region Men's Indoor C.O.Y, Bonsall saw Fruit win the 5,000 meter race at the '10 Kansas Relays and place first in the 10,000 at the Drake Relays the following week.
Two years later, Bonsall coached two 800 meter All-Americans in Paul Pape (fourth) and Matt Shipp (fifth). Pape went on to earn All-American honors in the spring with Sanabria just outside the top eight by finishing 10th in the 10,000.
25738Most recently, Marissa Bongers earned All-American status in the 800. Breaking school records in several distance events four straight weeks in January 2013, she placed third in the 800 at both the NCAA indoor and outdoor championships.
Bongers was again among the nation's elite in 2014, earning her third All-American honor during the indoor season. Her career wrapped up in 2015 with a USTFCCA second-team All-American honor.
In the winter of 2015, Cole Wellnitz earned his first All-American honor, placing eighth in the mile. He joined Bongers as Lopers to break school distance records in 2015. That included the DMR team that broke a 53-year old mark.
Finally, at the '13 NCAA outdoor meet, Fruit capped off a great career by finishing 14th in the 5,000 meter run with Pape (800), Nick Knudson (steeple) and Sanabria (5,000) each making the 2014 NCAA indoor or outdoor meets.
Off the track, Bonsall's teams have had equal success as 40 cross country members have been named USTFCCCA Academic Scholars. The women’s team has been ranked in the top 10 in the nation five times, including the 2010 squad, which tied for the nation's top GPA.
In track & field, 75 Lopers have been named to the USTFCCCA All-Academic team with 2011 women ranking second nationally in GPA.
Four Lopers, including an unprecedented three in 2014, have been named CoSIDA Academic All-Americans. Two, Dill and Kevin Carder, were coached directly by Bonsall.
Prior to UNK, Bonsall spent six years working with the cross country and track & field programs at Ogallala High. In 2006 he helped Ogallala win the Nebraska Class B state championship as co-head coach with Shane Fruit, who is the father of Tanner.
Bonsall also spent time teaching in the Ogallala, Broomfield (Colo.), and Lincoln school systems. He also taught courses at Mid-Plains C.C. in Ogallala.
After starring at Burwell High, Bonsall graduated from Nebraska-Lincoln in 1995 where he was a two-time NCAA qualifier in both cross country and track, as well as being a two-time CoSIDA Academic All-American.
He then competed in the steeplechase at the 1996 and 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials and the 1997 World University games.
Bonsall and his wife, Sherri, who also ran cross country and track at UNL, have a son, Nathan, and four daughters: Grace, Emma, Haley, and Sara.