Golden Tigers Coach Heather Estetter Plans to Pick Up Pace with Cross Country
Cross country runners at Brenau University are about to learn what it is like to have a coach who has an established record as a distance runner.
Heather Estetter, who became Brenau’s head cross country coach on July 1, has a proven background as both a runner at two National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I universities and as a coach in a fast-paced NCAA Division II school.
Estetter moved to Brenau from the University of West Georgia in Carrollton, where she served since 2012 as the assistant cross country and track and field coach.
“Heather is very enthusiastic and she has good knowledge of the sport of running,” Brenau Athletics Director Mike Lochstampfor said. “We’re excited to have her as part of our program.”
The Brenau runners, who compete in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Southern States Athletic Conference, finished second in the SSAC meet in 2014 and sent two runners to the NAIA national meet in Lawrence, Kansas. However, the companion track and field team, which shares some distance runners with the cross country squad, set a faster pace with three straight conference wins in its first three years and sent runners to nationals.
That does not bother Estetter.
“I’ve run for two NCAA Division I programs, so I know what it means to train hard and run faster,” Estetter said. “Our goal here will be to develop the potential of our runners and make some noise in the conference and on the national level.”
The 2014-15 Golden Tigers team reports for training on Aug. 16 to prepare for the season opener on Friday, Sept. 4, at the Dalton State College Twinight meet in Varnell, Georgia.
Estetter said that she will not simply pile 50 to 60 extra training miles on the runners each week. She will monitor the mileage and scale it to the comfort levels of each runner to help them all achieve individual and team successes.
“I believe that caring about the athlete as an individual will help with achieving championships,” Estetter said. “I know that having a new coach in a program isn’t always the easiest transition, but I hope to make the transition as easy as possible.”
Estetter is a native of Fort Smith, Arkansas, and as a high school senior won the state’s 1,600-meter championship in a time of 5:08. She continued her career at Oklahoma State University as a freshman and dropped her time in the 1,500-meter race to 4:40.20.
In her sophomore year, she transferred to the University of Central Arkansas in Conway and ran cross country and track for three years. She was the Sugar Bears’ leading scorer in cross country and set numerous school records in track, including the 800-meter with a time of 2:17.00.
At West Georgia, she participated in the development of a fast-growing, hungry program in the competitive Gulf States Conference. She coached four West Georgia runners who earned all-conference honors in cross country. The cross country team during her tenure also received All-Academic Team honors 2012 and 2013. She also was the director of the university’s annual Wolves Invitational cross country meet for the past three years. Her peers at West Georgia elected her Assistant Coach of the Year for 2014-15.
Estetter is a Level 1 certified coach through USA Track and Field. She has a track and field certification from the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Association.