Tony Natali enters his 18th 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:
Athlete Accolades under Coach Natali:
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 & Hannah.
Danny Wilkerson, a 2004 graduate of Aquinas College, enters his 11th 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:
Athlete Accolades under Coach Wilkerson:
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 11th 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:
Athlete Accolades under Coach Sommers:
Ryan and his wife, Linda, live in South Bend with their two daughters, Anika and Elin, and their dog, Bailey.
|Bethel at||1st of 10|
|Crossroads League Championships|
|Bethel at||2nd of 12|
|Goshen College Invitational|