By Devin Golden
Dalton State College has filled its last coaching vacancy for the time being, but the school’s athletic department still has another related position to fill.
School officials have announced Margie Bru-ner, who is a Dalton High cross country and track and field assistant coach, will be the Roadrunners’ new men’s and women’s cross country coach when the program begins competition next fall.
It is currently a part-time volunteer position, and there are plans to hire a director of cross country in the near future.
The director, who also will be an assistant coach for the men’s basketball team, will be a full-time position handling budgeting and scheduling.
Bruner, who ran for Auburn’s cross country and track and field teams, expects to handle more of the day-to-day operations with the program like practices and recruiting.
Dalton State athletic director Derek Waugh said Bruner will report to him and the director.
“I ran in college and in high school and I really enjoy it,” Bruner said. “The kids are just great. It’s a lot of fun.
“It’s going to be a challenging position, but it’s a nice transition and something exciting to do.”
The coaching position is volunteer but might become a paid part-time position in the future. That is undecided, Waugh said.
“We’ve got to get moving on these sports and we need people in place for recruiting so we don’t miss out on athletes,” he said. “At the NAIA level, lots of positions are kind of doubled up. The director will do the scheduling and help with those things.”
Waugh added the director position will be filled “very soon” and will have the majority of his or her responsibilities with men’s basketball, which is headed up by coach Tony Ingle.
“It’s right at the top of the to-do list,” Waugh said. “The advertisement has been out on it for a while.”
The Roadrunners are bringing athletics back after an extended absence — when its sports program existed before, the school was still known as Dalton Junior College — and Bruner first heard of a potential cross country team even before Waugh was hired in February.
“It might have been a year and a half ago when I heard they might have cross country,” she said. “I thought about applying and then Derek called me.”
Bruner previously taught “first-year experience” and psychology classes at Dalton State.
She currently works as Dalton High’s school psychologist and in 2011 was nominated for the Tom Jones Educator of the Year award for Dalton Public Schools.
She will continue to work at Dalton High and will help with track and field at the school again this spring before stepping away from her coaching positions with the Cata-mounts and Lady Cats.
“If you talk to people that know running in the area, she has a lot of positive references,” Waugh said. “People think she’s very good and has great character. She knows the business and the area, not just Dalton High but the other schools.”
Initial plans for the cross country teams included Waugh being the coach, but that changed when he felt it would serve no benefit to the runners.
“There’s just so much stuff going on, and I didn’t want to short-change any of the sports,” he said. “If I had been the coach, it would’ve been short-changed.”
Bruner and her husband, Greg Bruner, are avid participants in the area’s running scene and honorary board members of “The Run for John,” an annual race held in memory of their son who was The Daily Citizen’s All-Area Boys Cross Country Co-Runner of the Year in 2005.
Another son, Andrew Bruner, was selected the area’s top boys cross country runner by the paper in 2009.