Lydum races to cross country’s rescue

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18 days.

That is how long it took for the athletic department to recruit for, interview and hire Matt Lydum as the head cross-country and track and field coach after former coach Brent Erikson announced his surprise resignation.   

Three weeks before cross-country runners were scheduled to arrive on campus, Erikson announced that he accepted a head coach offer from Portland State University.

The announcement skyrocketed a typical six-month process to just two and a half weeks.

“It came as kind of a surprise to us,” Athletic Director Ken Schumann said. “Portland state had a change in their coaching staff and contacted Brent with a pretty good offer.”

As soon as the news came in, Schumann said Associate Athletic Director Lauren Esbensen was on the phone contacting coaches and facilities throughout Oregon.

“In a situation like this, you really need to let people know you’re looking,” Schumann said. “Lauren did a great job.”

One of those phone calls put Esbensen in contact with Lydum, whose wife was working at Western Oregon University.

Lydum hit the ground running; meeting his cross-country team just one day after the official announcement of his hiring was released.

Unconventional circumstances aside, Schumann said he is very excited to have Lydum become a long-term part of the Boxer athletic team.

He said Lydum was the school’s number one choice for the position.

“We are so lucky to have him,” Schumann said. “It’s going to be a really easy transition with him here.”

In addition to training the cross-country team, Lydum has met with several track and field students in the short time he has been on campus.

Senior sprinter Connor Pappas said he is very excited to work with Lydum.

“He’s such a personable and knowledgeable coach,” Pappas said. “I’m really looking forward to this season with him.”

With such a quick turnaround, Schumann said he acknowledged that there would be some natural difficulty both for Lydum and for the cross-country team.

To offset the challenges, Schumann said Esbensen will become a much larger presence on the team and he will be working directly with Lydum to help his transition.

Schumann said Esbensen has experience competing on a cross-country team and will make a good addition to the team.

“We know there are going to be challenges under the circumstances,” said Schumann. “We are committed to supporting both sides in every way we can.

The cross-country team has started regular practice with Lydum and will have its first competition Oct. 1 at the Lewis and Clark Open at Westmorland Park.


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