Oakland University track and field coach ‘ecstatic’ about program’s potential

By: Mark Vest | C&G Newspapers | Published February 1, 2019

  Tyler Sirut, a Macomb L’Anse Creuse North graduate, competes in throws for Oakland University’s track and field program. Coach Katrina Brumfield said she is “ecstatic” about Oakland’s potential as a program.

Tyler Sirut, a Macomb L’Anse Creuse North graduate, competes in throws for Oakland University’s track and field program. Coach Katrina Brumfield said she is “ecstatic” about Oakland’s potential as a program.

Photo provided by Jose Juarez/Oakland University athletics

 Katrina Brumfield is in her first season as Oakland University’s head track and field coach. Brumfield referred to Oakland as a “hidden gem.”

Katrina Brumfield is in her first season as Oakland University’s head track and field coach. Brumfield referred to Oakland as a “hidden gem.”

Photo provided by Oakland University athletics

When Katrina Brumfield received a phone call to inform her that she had won the job as Oakland University’s men’s and women’s head track and field coach last year, she said she “screamed for like five minutes.”

Brumfield was an assistant coach at Youngstown State University. Both programs compete in the Horizon League, so she already had some familiarity with Oakland’s program.

Given what Brumfield already thought about Oakland even before accepting the position, it isn’t difficult to understand why she was so enthused about getting the job.

Brumfield said the program has been doing a lot of things right, but she felt she could fill in some of the missing pieces.

“When I was on the outside looking in about what Oakland could do, and it’s always been kind of the talk, ‘if they figure some things out … we’re in trouble, because they already have a really strong distance program, and if they can add depth to their track events, they’re definitely a force to be reckoned with.’”

Although Oakland has had some success in recent years, including a first-place finish by the men’s team at the 2018 Horizon League Outdoor Track and Field Championships, and a victory by the women’s squad at the indoor championships in 2016, for the most part, Youngtown State has been the team to beat.

During Brumfield’s tenure, Youngstown State won a total of 15 Horizon League indoor and outdoor championships between the men’s and women’s teams.

From her perspective, Oakland can also be a championship program.

“It’s a goldmine,” Brumfield said. “The campus is beautiful. And then the things that are around here, it’s a very easy sell. … I think it’s a hidden gem.”

Brumfield took over the coaching duties from Paul Rice, who is currently Oakland’s director of track and field and head cross country coach.

Rice helped usher in track and field at Oakland in 2006, and the success the program has already had in such a short period of time has not escaped the attention of Tyler Sirut, who competes in throws and is a Macomb L’Anse Creuse North graduate.

“Our program is relatively new,” Sirut said. “I mean it’s less than 20 years old for the track program at Oakland. … Just the program that Paul Rice has created in such a short amount of time is amazing to see, and the talent that he’s been able to produce.”

Brumfield said that if the Golden Grizzlies make certain moves with recruiting, they could be “lights out next year on both the men’s and women’s side.”

But she also hasn’t forgotten about this year’s indoor championships, which are scheduled for Feb. 23-24 in Youngstown, Ohio.

“I think we have the ability to go after that championship this year,” Brumfield said. “I think our men’s side is fairly strong. They’re closer with it.  … I think we’re in a good position to make a run for it.”

Brumfield said she is “ecstatic” about Oakland’s potential, and her vision for the program extends even beyond winning Horizon League championships.

“One of the things is, I think we can be a top-25 program in a shorter time frame than anybody else thinks, just because we have so many great things to offer,” Brumfield said. “I’m pumped. I can’t wait to see how everything kind (of) lines up. I’m motivated and the kids are motivated.”


Meet the Golden Grizzlies

Oakland University track and field coach Katrina Brumfield is excited about the direction the program is heading. Following is a look at the local athletes that are hoping to make those championship expectations into a reality.

• Nate Corcoran-Miller, Walled Lake Northern
• Gabby Cyriax, Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse
• Natalie Fylak, Rochester High
• Joe Ghafari, Farmington High
• Demetri Harris, Rochester Hills Stoney Creek
• Nathan Holland, St. Clair Shores Lakeview
• Malcolm McIntyre, Lakeview
• Mary Moore, Macomb Dakota
• Sam Narusch, Utica High
• Marcus Nellum, Clinton Township Chippewa Valley
• Megan Nichols, Auburn Hills Oakland Christian
• Marisa Papadelis, Sterling Heights Stevenson
• Olivia Rice, Rochester Hills Lutheran Northwest
• Allison Shannon, Stevenson
• Tyler Sirut, Macomb L’Anse Creuse North
• Zach Stadnika, Macomb Lutheran North
• Audrey Weber, Rochester
• Jimmie Williams, Southfield A&T