Leeannda Wood

Former Ball State long distance runner Ali Bishel was named the new cross country and track & field assistant coach. The three-time NCAA Championship participant has moved from student athlete to student coach and is now settling in as the new assistant coach for the program this fall.

Olympic gold medalist Sunder Nix left his position as the assistant coach in the spring.

Ball State is in a unique position having two full-time coaching positions that both focus on cross country as well as indoor and outdoor track.

"We really needed to have someone that could work with the distance girls," coach Randy Heisler said.

Distance running is something that Bishel knows very well. She currently holds the school record in the 5,000m run. In cross country, she made two appearances in the NCAA Cross Country Championships, in 2007 and 2009.

In 2008, she placed 16th in the 5,000m run at the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships and also held Mid-American Conference titles in the 3,000m run, mile run and distance medley relay. She was named to the 2008-09 ESPN The Magazine's Academic All-District Second Team and the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association named her to their All-Academic Team in 2008.

"Ali worked really hard to improve herself from high school and throughout college," Heisler said.

Bishel was named The Most Outstanding Track Performer in 2009 at the MAC Indoor Championship and also took home titles in the 5,000m run and defended her 3,000m run title that year.

As a student-athlete, Bishel earned First Team All-MAC four times, one second team and seven Academic All-MAC honors.

After being ineligible to run outdoor track last year, coach Heisler asked Bishel if she would like to become a volunteer student coach.

"It was apparent initially that she had a really good sense of coaching," Heisler said. "That is not always the case with star athletes."

Heisler believes that a lot of last year's success with the distance girls can be attributed to Bishel's coaching when still a student. Heisler said the team has responded well to her so far this preseason.

Heisler said he will give Bishel full responsibility on the long distance athletes while he will be responsible for sprinters and field events. He said having Bishel in charge of the long distance athletes will give Ball State an advantage over the other schools in the conference season.

"There is a new sheriff in town and she has red hair," Heisler said.