AKRON, Ohio - The University of Akron head track and field coach Dennis Mitchell has named Bridget Franek as the Zips' women's distance and cross country coach. Her hiring is pending approval by the University's Board of Trustees.
"We are very fortunate to have a person with the status and significant experiences of Bridget Franek joining our program," Mitchell commented. "She can make an important impact on our program and our team is looking forward to working with her."
"Throughout my life, track and field has made such a significant impact in my life, the incredible people I've met, places I've been, and the inspiration it has given me to pursue my personal potential," said Franek. "I could not be more excited for the opportunity to share my experiences and help create similar experiences for the athletes on this team. Even more specifically, the chance to join such a nationally renown team like the one here at the University of Akron is a huge honor for me."
A 2010 graduate of Penn State, Franek was one of the top U.S. women in the steeplechase while still in college competing in the 2008 Olympic Trials and representing team USA at the 2009 IAAF World Championships.
By the time her career as a Nittany Lion was up, she had captured the NCAA title in the steeplechase in 2010 (9:38.86) and was a 10-time All-American.
Upon graduation, Franek moved to Eugene, Ore., to continue competing and joined Oregon Track Club, where she went on to become a two-time national runner-up in 2011 and 2012.
She qualified for a second IAAF World Championships team in 2011 and became a 2012 Olympic finalist in the 3,000-meter steeplechase for the United States.
Franek comes to Akron after a decorated professional career in which she rose to as high as No. 17 in the world in the steeplechase.