Jim Seckel enters his seventh season in 2020-21 as the cross country coach, and also coaches the distance events during the track and field season. Seckel was named Cumberland University cross country coach on December 18, 2014, taking over the program after serving as the cross country and distance track coach at Franklin Road Academy in Nashville, Tenn., for two years.
The Camarillo, Calif., native has coached runners at multiple levels since 1995, including high school and youth clubs as well as serving as a private coach.
Since taking over the program in 2014, Seckel has produced 15 NAIA National Qualifiers, 36 All-Conference runners, 9 Conference Runners of the Week, and a Conference Freshman of the Year. His student-athletes have likewise excelled in the classroom and in the community, with 9 NAIA Scholar-Athlete designations, 41 Academic All-Conference designations, two Mid-South Conference Champions of Character, two USTFCCCA Scholar-Athletes, and one Cumberland University Lindsey Donnell Scholar-Athlete. Seckel was also voted Mid-South Conference Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year in 2018.
Notable achievements during Seckel’s tenure include distance runners winning seven conference championships in track: Jordan Hill (800m Outdoor, 2017); Joel Barlow (3000m Indoor, 2018); Taylor Blankenship (1000m Indoor, 2018); Men’s DMR (Indoor, 2018); Women’s DMR (Indoor, 2019); Cornelius Kipchumba (10000m Outdoor, 2019); and Women’s 4x800m Relay (Indoor, 2020). Blankenship also became the distance program’s first two-time national qualifier, with appearances in both the 2017 and 2018 Cross Country national meet. Amber Mays (Cross Country 2018, 2019) and Riley Kilian (Outdoor Track – Marathon, 2019, 2020) matched Blankenship’s achievement during the 2019-2020 season.
Seckel has been a competitive runner since 1980 and has competed at all levels, progressing through youth track programs, middle school, high school and collegiate levels. Following college graduation, he continued to compete in national and regional-level road races and continues to compete as a Masters athlete. A veteran road racer and marathoner, he has completed 35 marathons, including a string of eleven consecutive Boston Marathons.
He is a USA Track & Field Level 2 Certified Coach (Endurance Specialty) and also certified with the Road Runners Club of America and the National Federation of High Schools as an Accredited Interscholastic Coach.
Seckel graduated from the US Military Academy with a bachelor’s in Civil Engineering in 1990 and served five years as a captain in the US Army. He has enjoyed a 30-year career in the building construction and engineering industry in both the Army and in the corporate world. He also graduated with a Master’s in Coaching and Athletic Administration (summa cum laude) from Concordia University – Irvine in 2016.
Seckel is married to the former Judy Bowman and the couple lives in Lebanon, Tenn. The couple’s daughter, Kristen, is in training to become a real estate agent.