Tony Natali enters his 19th season as the skipper of the men’s track & field team. Prior to arriving at Bethel, Natali served as the head track & field coach at Marian University for eight seasons.
Under his leadership, the Pilots track & field program has blossomed from a small unit into a national powerhouse which fields anywhere from 75-100 athletes year in and year out. The philosophy that Natali leads his team by is simple – enjoy the journey, work as hard as we can to maximize the abilities God has given each one of us, and in return, give Him the glory for all that happens.
Natali’s Pilot Profile:
- NCCAA Indoor National Champions in 2009 & 2015
- NCCAA Outdoor National Champions in 2009
- NCCAA Indoor National Coaching Staff of the Year in 2009 & 2015
- NCCAA Outdoor National Coaching Staff of the Year in 2009
- Conference Champions in 2006 & 2009
- Conference Coach of the Year in 2004, 2006 & 2009
Athlete Accolades under Coach Natali:
- 2 Individual NAIA National Champions
- 1 Individual NAIA National Runner-up
- 89 Individual NCCAA National Champions
- 4 Wheeler Award (NCCAA Athlete of the Year) Winners
- 54 NAIA All-Americans
- 311 NCCAA All-Americans
- 15 NAIA Scholar-Athletes
- 36 NCCAA Scholar-Athletes
- 3 NCCAA National Championship, Athlete of the Meet Awards
- 104 Conference Champions
- 15 Conference Athletes of the Week (2006-present)
In addition to his role as the head coach for men’s and women’s track & field, Natali also serves as an assistant athletic director and as a men’s basketball assistant coach.
Tony and his wife, Andrea, have two daughters, Cassie (Horn) & Hannah.
A familiar face around Bethel track and field, after a successful career as a student-athlete followed by four and a half years on the coaching staff, Coach Maierle rejoined the Pilots in the summer of 2016 as a full-time assistant coach for BC after a season stint at Olivet Nazarene University in 2015-16.
As a student-athlete for the Pilots between 2007 and 2011, Maierle was a five-time NAIA All-American and a nine-time NCCAA All-American. During his career, he also tallied an impressive six NCCAA national titles, including five in the long jump and one as a member of the 4x100-meter relay team. As a member of the BC track & field team, Maierle helped the men's program to their first NCCAA team title during the 2009 indoor season, a feat that was repeated during the outdoor campaign. Currently, after half a decade has passed, Maierle still holds both of Bethel's long jump records (indoor & outdoor) with leaps of 7.35 and 7.49 meters respectively. He also owns the outdoor decathlon record of 5,453 total points.
During his first coaching stint with BC, the Pilots swept the 2015 Indoor NCCAA National Championship, bringing back to Mishawaka Bethel's 34th and 35th championship banners. Also dating back to the 2011-12 season when Maierle began coaching, he helped 20 NAIA All-Americans, three NCCAA National Champions, 26 NCCAA All-Americans and 11 Crossroads League Champions.
Most recently at ONU, Maierle helped the Tigers in 2016 land three NAIA All-Americans, four Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference Champions and nine all-conference selections. At the NAIA National Championships, the ONU men landed a top-10 finish and concluded the season ranked fourth overall in the USTFCCCA combined indoor and outdoor rankings. The Olivet women were not far behind finishing sixth in their respective USTFCCCA ranking.
Danny Wilkerson, a 2004 graduate of Aquinas College, enters his 12th season as an assistant for the men’s and women’s track & field program.
While competing for Aquinas College, Wilkerson participated in six NAIA National Championships in both cross country and track combined. Professionally, Wilkerson earned his USATF Level 2 coaching certification in the sprints, jumps, hurdles, and combined events as well as other certifications in coaching and is part of the National Pole Vault staff.
In the world of professional track and field, Wilkerson has coached Mary Saxer who was ranked as a top 20 pole vaulter in the world in 2011 with a personal best of 15'1”. She was the 2012 London Olympic alternate and was a 2012 World Indoor Championship Finalist. Wilkerson also coached the 2010 US Outdoor and 2011 US Indoor National Champion in the pole vault, Mark Hollis, who was also a member of the 2011 World Outdoor Championship team. For his work, Wilkerson was honored with the title of USA High Performance National Pole Vault Coach of the Year for 2010.
Wilkerson’s Pilot Profile:
- NCCAA Indoor Track & Field Coaching Staff of the Year in 2009 & 2015 (Men)
- NCCAA Indoor Track & Field Coaching Staff of the Year in 2010, 2011 & 2015 (Women)
- NCCAA Outdoor Track & Field Coaching Staff of the Year in 2009
- NCCAA Outdoor Track & Field Coaching Staff of the Year in 2010 & 2011 (Women)
- Conference Champions in 2006 & 2009 (Men’s Track & Field)
- Conference Champions in 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010 & 2011 (Women’s Track & Field)
Athlete Accolades under Coach Wilkerson:
- 1 NAIA National Champion
- 30 NCCAA National Champions (12 – Men, 18 – Women)
- 46 NAIA All-Americans (16 – Men, 30 – Women)
- 138 NCCAA All-Americans (57 – Men, 81 – Women)
- 1 Co-SIDA Academic All-American
- 2 Outstanding Performers at NCCAA National Championships
- 39 Conference Champions (12 – Men, 27 – Women)
- 1 NAIA Track Athlete of the Week (Women)
- 11 Conference Athletes of the Week (5 – Men, 6 – Women)
Wilkerson also owns and operates a private athletic consulting company that works with the athletic development of high school, college, and professional athletes in a variety of sporting events.
Danny currently lives in South Bend.
Ryan Sommers enters his 12th year as the head coach for the men’s cross country team and an assistant coach for the men’s track & field team.
Sommers, an Indiana Wesleyan University alumnus, enjoys the character of Bethel College, finding it a distinct pleasure to be associated with a community that has a Christ-centered focus which reminds him of his alma mater. He utilizes a concept he terms FOCUS which centers on four principles:
1. Knowing why we do what we do
2. Loving God
3. Loving our teammates (and others around us)
4. Experiencing Godly joy in running.
The results have been quite astounding in the lives of the athletes. He cannot help but believe that it will continue to spill out to others around the team. These principles form the foundation of the program.
While competing for Indiana Wesleyan, Sommers earned NAIA All-American and NCCAA All-American status in cross country as well as Scholar-Athlete honors. In addition, he and his twin brother, Robert, were the Wheeler Award recipients at the NCCAA National Cross Country Championships in 1992. Their team placed 10th at the NAIA National Championships that same year. Coach Sommers also competed at the NAIA and NCCAA Track & Field Championships. He still holds the 800-meter school record at IWU and several of the top 50 performances in cross country. He attributes his success to God's blessings and the fortune of being a part of a strong team.
Ryan earned a Master's Degree in Human Development & Family Studies with a specialization in Marriage & Family Therapy from Colorado State University.
Sommers' Pilot Profile:
- NCCAA Indoor Track & Field Coaching Staff of the Year in 2009 & 2015
- NCCAA Outdoor Track & Field Coaching Staff of the Year in 2009
- NAIA Scholar Team in 2009, 2010, 2012 & 2014 (Cross Country)
- Conference Champions in 2006 & 2009 (Track & Field)
Athlete Accolades under Coach Sommers:
- 1 NCCAA National Champpions in 4x800 Relay (Track & Field)
- 3 NCCAA National Runners-up in 4x800 Relay (Track & Field)
- 1 NCCAA National Runner-up in DMR (Track & Field)
- 35 NCCAA All-Americans (Track & Field)
- 12 NAIA Scholar-Athletes (8 – Cross Country, 4 – Track & Field)
- 20 NCCAA Scholar-Athletes (8 – Cross Country, 12 – Track & Field)
- 2 Conference Champion (Track & Field)
- 2 All-Conference Selection (Cross Country)
- 3 Conference Athlete of the Week (2006-present) (1 – Cross Country, 2 – Track & Field)
Ryan and his wife, Linda, live in South Bend with their two daughters, Anika and Elin, and their dog, Bailey.