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Schruhl hits the ground running as Olympic College cross-country coach
He was too small to play football in the fall, and he was cut from the wrestling team the ensuing winter.
So in the spring of 1968, hoping to participate in a sport before the school year ended at the now-closed East Bremerton High School, 5-foot-5-inch, 105-pound Daryl Schruhl turned out for the track and field team.
“I had to give it a try. I had to make the team one way or another,” Schruhl said. “It was the only sport left.”
The undersized athlete earned a roster position and competed in long-distance races for the next three seasons, participating in postseason meets and emerging as a collegiate-level runner.
Four decades later, Schruhl is the new head coach of Olympic College’s cross-country program, which was reborn in March after being eliminated in the late 1970s. It is the first new sport to be offered at Olympic College since the school added golf and soccer in 2004.
The cross-country team’s first season in the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges starts in August.
“I’m hoping, really across the board, that folks come here and run with us,” said Schruhl, 57. “It’s going to be an inclusionary thing, not exclusionary.”
Schruhl’s job has already begun. He must recruit athletes to fill the empty roster, build a coaching staff and finalize the schedule.
Recruiting is Schruhl’s top priority.
Schruhl doesn’t know how much interest there will be in the new program, but his aim is to keep not only the area’s top high school runners here, but also runners who hope to prolong or begin running careers in Bremerton.
That option has not been available in years past, and as a result, some runners who would have stayed here left instead because there was no college running program.
“I would have much rather stayed home, avoiding the extra costs of living on my own,” said Jon Phillips, a 2009 South Kitsap High School grad who chose to run at Everett Community College. “I was forced to choose a different community college.”
Schruhl needs a minimum of five men and five women to field a full team, but the best-case scenario is to attract 15 per side.
To be eligible, athletes must be enrolled in 12 credits at the college, but there are no age restrictions. Scholarships also are available — with up to 65 percent of tuition being covered, Schruhl said.
“We will do our best to make the program fit the athletes,” Schruhl said.
Bringing cross-country back to Olympic College was a long process for Schruhl, who first had the idea in 2004.
At the time, however, he wasn’t in a position to coach because his personal and professional life were so busy. But a few years later, Schruhl began talking to longtime running coach Bob Summers, who urged him to start the program.
Soon, Schruhl and Olympic College Athletic Director Barry Janusch were talking and the idea was passed to the college’s president, David Mitchell.
Cross-country became one of the school’s 11 official sports last month.
Schuhl has been an assistant track and cross-country coach at Olympic High School since 2002 and will continue as an assistant on the track team, but will resign from his post as assistant cross-country coach.
His colleagues call him passionate and knowledgeable, a coach who excels in one-on-one teaching situations.
“He digs for information and really dissects the running,” said Olympic High track and cross-country coach Greg Chapman, who is Schruhl’s neighbor and has coached alongside him the past eight seasons. “You never like to lose a coach of his caliber.”
Born and raised in Bremerton, Schruhl attended Olympic College before going on to Eastern Washington University, where he ran cross-country for two years and graduated in 1976.
He has two sons, 23-year-old Derek and 19-year-old Branden, an Olympic High grad who will run for his father and the Rangers next season.
“I’m a competitive guy, and I want to have a winning program,” Daryl Schruhl said.