By John Pierri
Track and field isn’t just a sport for James Kluckhohn. It’s a way of life. From the time he was a student athlete in rural Wisconsin to today, Kluckhohn has shown an intense dedication to the sport.
Kluckhohn is in his fifth season as the head coach of Benedictine’s men and women’s track and field teams. He has created and coached a number of track and field programs, from Texas Lutheran University to North Park University leading to his current post at BenU.
Growing up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin, Kluckhohn has strong Midwestern roots. During high school, he ran cross country and track and field as a distance runner. He later attended and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Lacrosse. There, he continued to run and was the co-captain of his track and field team.
“I had a great experience as a college athlete. I loved it,” said Kluckhohn, “It was something that I didn’t want to get away from.”
Kluckhohn stayed at UW-Lacrosse for grad school where he had the opportunity to be an assistant coach for cross country and track and field teams. There, they hosted the national championships.
“I just felt like coaching was something I wanted to pursue if I had the opportunity to do it,” Kluckhohn explained.
Kluckhohn and his wife, Kari, started a track and field program at Texas Lutheran University, where they both coached for three years. They later moved back out to the Midwest so that they could be closer to their families.
Kluckhohn then coached at North Park University before he started a very successful program at Aurora University. In the five seasons he spent there, his cross country and track and field teams won a combined five league championships. He also has won the “Coach of the Year” award four times, and has been very successful during his NAC tenure.
“I’ve seen this conference grow and it’s been fun to see it develop into being a now quite competitive conference,” Kluckhohn explained.
The Eagles track and field team has had one meet so far in which there were a number of good performances as well as personal records broken.
“You don’t often see that the first time out, it’s really a credit to the athletes putting work in during the off season,” Kluckhohn said proudly. “That’s where the really make a lot of improvements.”
One of Kluckhohn’s goals for the season is hopefully getting a little healthier, as some of the athletes are “a little dinged up.” He also wants to get the younger athletes more competition experience.
The track and field teams competed last weekend Keck Invitational Multis at Illinois Wesleyan University, with the men’s team finishing 17th and the women’s team featuring some great individual efforts. They will compete again on Saturday the 11th in the Chicagoland Championships at North Central College.