Now in his fourth year as the head coach for the men’s track and field and cross country programs at Olivet College in 2013, Jeff Kavalunas aims to move the Comets back to prominence at the conference, regional and national level.
Prior to coming to Olivet, Kavalunas had great success in his 12-year tenure (1996-2008) at Ferris State University (FSU), as the head coach for men’s and women’s cross country and track and field. During his time at FSU, Kavalunas coached 24 All-Americans, 48 NCAA National Championship qualifiers, 37 school records and 18 All-Academic teams and individuals. In cross country, Kavalunas’ teams were ranked in the top 25 eight times.
In 2008, Kavalunas coached Amy Woodman to an NCAA National Indoor Championship title in the long jump. Other notable performers include six-time All-American 800 meter runner Katie Chapman. She finished as the 2002 NCAA National Indoor runner-up in the 800 meter run, continued on that season to run the fastest 800 meter time of 2:05.98 in Division II, and qualified to compete at the USATF outdoor track and field championships.
Another notable middle distance runner was Jenny Irwin, who was named earned NCAA All-American honors five times in the 1500 meter run and finished second at the 2006 NCAA Outdoor National Championships. She was also Ferris State’s first All-American in cross country, finishing 28th at the 2007 NCAA National Cross Country Championships.
In 1998 and 1999, Kavalunas was recognized as the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Indoor Track and Field Coach of the Year. Similarly, he was also recognized as the 2004 and 2007 GLIAC Coach of the Year for women’s cross country.
Prior to FSU, Kavalunas served in a similar capacity at Northwood University (NU) as the head coach for men’s and women’s track and field and cross country. While at NU, he produced two All-Americans, and 15 NCAA/NAIA National Championship qualifiers. In 1992, Kavalunas coached Henry Russell, who was the 1992 long jump champion at the NAIA National Indoor Track and Field Championships.
Before heading to NU, Kavalunas served as an assistant cross country/grad assistant track and field coach at Central Michigan University (CMU). At CMU, he assisted the men’s cross country team to consecutive appearances at the NCAA Division I National Cross Country Championships in 1988 and 1989. On the track, Kavalunas worked with the 800 meter runners. During that time, he coached three runners to All-Mid-American Conference honors.
Kavalunas’ other coaching stints include serving as an assistant cross country coach at Lawrence University in 2008, and also as an assistant track and field coach at Ogemaw Heights High School in 1998.
Off the track, Kavalunas has also been active. From 2002 to 2008, he was as an executive committee member for the United States Track & Field/Cross Country Coaches Association. From 2006 to 2008, Kavalunas served as president for the NCAA Division II Track and Field Coaches Association.
Kavalunas is a USA Track and Field Level III certified middle distance/distance coach, an England Athletics Level II licensed middle distance coach, and also holds a USA Track and Field level II jumps and sprints/hurdles coach certifications.
In 1990, Kavalunas earned a master’s degree in exercise science from CMU. He earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education from Grand Valley State University (GVSU) in 1987. During his time at time at GVSU, Kavalunas was a member of the cross country and track and field teams. He earned All-GLIAC honors in the 10,000-meter run and was a member of the 1983 squad that competed at the NCAA Cross Country National Championships.