NSU men and women’s cross country and track and field Head Coach Bryan Hagopian is no stranger to the world of college athletics. Hagopian has coached at several different colleges in all three of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s divisions and founded teams at Mount Senario College and College of Mount Saint Joseph.
Hagopian began his collegiate head coaching career in 1999 when he founded the first-ever cross country team at Mount Senario College, a small private school that used to be in Ladysmith, Wis. After the university shut down all their athletic programs in 2001, Hagopian moved to Upper Iowa University, where he became the assistant coach for cross country and track and field. While at Upper Iowa, Hagopian helped the team earn All-Conference and All-Region awards.
In 2004, Hagopian began another endeavor by becoming the head coach for cross country at the College of Mount Saint Joseph, an NCAA Division III school in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he also founded the track and field team. The team earned All-Region awards under his coaching. Then, in 2006, Hagopian became the assistant coach for the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Ragin’ Cajuns.
After a two-year stint with the Ragin’ Cajuns, Hagopian accepted the head coaching job at NSU on July 9, 2008.
He said, “I chose NSU because Ann Walker, the old administrator, knew how I was into running, and how enthusiastic I am. When I came for my job interview, she sold how the administration was supportive of track and field and cross country.”
Once he began his career at NSU, Hagopian saw immediate success. In his first season as a Shark, he coached the first NSU women’s cross country runners to run the 5K in less than 19 minutes, helped freshman Kyley Jorgensen qualify for the NCAA Division II National Championships for track, and coached the first two NSU men to run an 8K in under 26 minutes. Hagopian’s success continued in his second year when he saw Carlyle Thompson become the program’s first All-American for track and field.
NSU men’s cross country runner Kevin Meagher, senior, said that Hagopian played a big role in him choosing NSU. He said, “One of the reasons you come is you want to improve, and the coach is the one that can help you improve. I met him and I like what he had to offer.”
During the 2012 cross country season — which ended a few weeks ago — Hagopian and his team exceeded expectations. He coached seven runners that were awarded with All-South Region honors, coached three All-Sunshine State Conference runners, and led both the men and women’s team to the NCAA Division II National Championship. Two of his biggest accomplishments were leading the team to NSU’s first cross country conference championship and being named the SSC Men’s Cross Country Coach of the Year.
Omar Hernandez, senior, said that Hagopian is a coach who is motivational, caring and spontaneous.
He said, “He’s not too tight on the reins. He sets the expectations and he expects us to do it. If he sees something wrong, he’s not afraid to speak up.”