James Kearney
ROMEOVILLE, Ill. -- It has been a yearly tradition for James Kearney to take on new responsibilities as a member of the Lewis University cross country coaching staff, but his latest task may be his greatest one yet.

Lewis director of athletics Dr. John Planek announced Tuesday that Kearney has been elevated to head coach after serving the previous four seasons as an assistant for the Flyers. Last year, Kearney played a crucial role in helping the women's team, led by freshman All-American Amanda Farrough, finish 19th in the nation and mentored senior Andrew McLain to All-America status.

"The efforts of [our coaching staff] this past season were really remarkable," Planek said. "[James' promotion] is a recognition of the program's growth and the superior performances of both our cross country staff and student-athletes."

Kearney joined the Flyer coaching staff in 2010 as a graduate assistant. In 2012, former head coach Dana Schwarting hired him full time as the recruiting coordinator and women's distance coach. Last season, Kearney was charged with guiding both the men's and women's distance runners, culminating with their exciting finishes last fall.

Schwarting, who is also the Flyers' head men's and women's track and field coach, knew that Kearney was ready for his next career endeavor.

"James has really taken ownership over both the men's and women's distance programs," Schwarting said. "I am very happy to turn the reins over to him, because I know the program is in very capable hands and I'm excited for what is in store for our cross country teams."

Since Kearney joined the cross country staff, he has coached three All-Americans, four NCAA championship qualifiers, six NCAA All-Midwest Region performers, 12 All-Great Lakes Valley Conference selections, one GLVC champion and two GLVC Freshmen of the Year.

"[Lewis University and its administrators have] helped me grow and develop as a leader," Kearney said. "From the moment I started here as a graduate assistant, they have continued to teach me and I cannot thank them enough for all that they have done for me.

"I am also fortunate to work with and learn from some of the most talented and humble student-athletes a coach could ask for. Without their day-in and day-out effort, my growth as a coach would not be possible.

"I'm excited to watch the program continue to grow and achieve in the future because it's a very exciting time to be a Flyer."