Teams coached by Nebraska Wesleyan University’s Dr. Ted Bulling continue to build on a history of great success.
Need proof? Consider Bulling, at the age of 47, has already reached a landmark normally reserved for the best coaches in the country as they near retirement. His cross country teams won two more conference titles over the weekend to bring Bulling’s career total to 50 team crowns at the league level.
“We’ve succeeded due to a combination of being able to attract truly special student-athletes into our program and through the incredible talent and work of some amazing assistant coaches,” Bulling said, referring specifically to his long-term assistants Chris Baum, Scott Etherton, Ann Ringlein and his brother, Dan Bulling.
Ted became head coach of the men’s track and field program prior to the 1986 seasons and added women’s track and field before the 1988 seasons. Then, in 1990, he took the men’s cross country helm, a post he added for the women’s team in 1996. In all, Bulling has served as head coach at Nebraska Wesleyan in 102 conference meets, having won nearly half of those. His men’s teams have won 43 of a possible 56 league crowns (.768).
“We’ve found the right balance,” Bulling said. “We promote the quality education offered here at Nebraska Wesleyan and realize we can compete at a high level athletically as well. It’s not an either/or type of thing, and we prove that when we beat NCAA Division I programs, including teams from the Big 12.”
Winning now is more difficult than ever, according to Bulling. When he was first promoted to head coach, Nebraska Wesleyan belonged to the six-member Nebraska Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The league’s name changed to the Nebraska-Iowa Athletic Conference in 1991, when Northwestern College (Iowa) joined. Then in 2000, another school from Iowa and three more from South Dakota came on board and the league became the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC). Two more schools have since been added to the fold, giving the GPAC a total of 13 NAIA member institutions. Keep in mind, Nebraska Wesleyan is the only school in the conference NOT awarding athletic scholarships.
“When I look back, the performance level required to win in our conference is much higher today than it was in the late 1980s and early ’90s,” Bulling said. “It takes incredible depth as well as individual greatness.”
Last Saturday, his teams exhibited both. With seven of the top 11 individual finishers, his men’s cross country team won the GPAC team title with just 23 points. In addition, the top five on his women’s team, which included a pair of first-year runners and two sophomores, all finished among the top nine individuals to help NWU share team honors with Concordia University (Neb.). Nebraska Wesleyan had both individual GPAC champions (Levi Ashley and Brittany Hubbard) and are nationally ranked in the top 25 for NCAA Division III.
Conference team titles won to date under Bulling:
16 men’s indoor track and field
18 men’s outdoor track and field (including current streak of 17 in a row)
9 men’s cross country (including 6 of the last 7)
6 women’s cross country
1 women’s indoor track and field
50 total league championships entering 2006
Remaining 2005 Cross Country schedule:
Nov. 12 at NCAA Div. III Central Regionals, Waverly, Iowa
Nov. 19 at NCAA Div. III Championships, Delaware, Ohio