Alumnus Landon Bright returned to Point Loma Nazarene University this year as the associate head coach of cross-country and track and field. In the six months that he has held this position, he has succeeded in coaching the cross-country team to a 17th place finish at the NCAA Division II Cross-Country West Regionals.
When the coaching position opened up last spring, head coach of cross-country and track and field Jerry Arvin had to find someone to fill the spot.
“Landon was the first person to pop into my head,” said Arvin.
Arvin has known Bright for 15 years, four of which he spent coaching Bright. From their history, he knew that Bright would fit the university’s mission statement and be a good model for the students.
Since Arvin started coaching at Point Loma 28 years ago, passing the torch to Bright was a hard decision.
“Hiring Landon meant I had to make the adjustment [and] change what I’ve been doing for the last 30 years,” said Arvin.
Before returning to PLNU, Bright was the head coach of the cross-country and track programs at Bob Jones University in South Carolina for eight years. He started the programs at BJU, becoming the first head coach of cross-country and track and field. He led the men’s cross-country team to five National Christian College Athletic Association Div. II National Championships and led the women’s team to their first NCCAA Div. II National title in 2020. He was also voted NCCAA Div. II National Coach of the Year five times.
When Arvin called Bright about the coaching position at PLNU, Bright felt he was enjoying what he built at BJU, however, he knew that returning to PLNU to coach was an opportunity to challenge himself.
“Quality schools on the west coast don’t have a lot of openings,” Bright said.
With that, Bright, his wife, Katie and their two sons moved across the country.
While attending PLNU from 2005 to 2009, Bright ran for both the track and cross-country teams. To this day, his marks are on four Sea Lions’ top ten lists and he is the only male Sea Lion who is an All-American in both cross-country and track and field in the 10k. His All-American recognition in track was garnered through his performance at the national meet, where he placed third.
His history at PLNU contributed to his knowledge about the university and the track and cross country programs.
Fourth year exercise and sports science major and member of the cross country team, Emily Donahue, valued having an alumni as her coach.
“The community of PLNU students, whether current or alum, is special. I think it makes for common ground and shared love for the school,” Donahue said. “It was also fun to have him as our coach as he was also coached by Arvin.”
Bright’s alumni status and coaching experience helped him coach the 2021 cross-country team to the regional meet.
“Regionals was the big, big goal,” said Bright. “I was glad we were able to do that. We ran really well.”
Injuries and illnesses plagued the team on the road to regionals. The group lost four of their top seven runners. Despite this, the new top seven runners were able to help the team advance to the regional meet and they all placed within the top 150 runners in the region.
Donahue credits Bright’s coaching for the team’s performance at regionals.
“He created a positive atmosphere that encouraged us to be competitive and have fun,” said Donahue. “He fostered a really great, balanced space that allowed us to thrive.”
Arvin shares the same sentiments as Donahue and is looking forward to the years to come.
“Working with Landon has been everything I thought it would be,” said Arvin. “And, in the future, it’s going to be even better.”
Written By: Jenna Bernath