Coaching cross country and track & field wasn’t Jack Hazen’s first choice.
That distinction belonged to football, which is the sport Hazen started coaching as a graduate assistant under the legendary Woody Hayes at Ohio State.
But when a position opened up at Malone College in 1967 to coach both soccer and men’s track & field, Hazen jumped at the opportunity to lead his own programs. Hazen would never coach soccer, however, as the baseball coach – who had also been assigned men’s cross country – traded sports with the 26-year-old future Hall of Famer.
The rest, as they say, has been history.
It didn’t take long for Hazen to turn the Pioneers into a force on the NAIA level.
Malone’s men reached the NAIA Cross Country Championships in 1968 and decided that was a place they’d like to stay for a while. The Pioneers camped out at that meet for the next 43 years until their move to NCAA Division II in 2011 and placed in the top-10 35 times.
Hazen guided Malone’s men to its first NAIA team title in 1972 as it posted the largest margin of victory in 17-year history of that meet until that point (77 points).
Under Hazen, the Pioneers would win four more NAIA XC crowns. Malone’s women captured Hazen’s second team title eight years into his reign (Hazen took over that program in 1991 and still leads it) and the men reeled off three in a row from 2007 to 2009.
Hazen also made sure the Pioneers left their mark on the conference and district level in the NAIA. Malone’s men never lost a conference meet or district meet from 1968 until 2010, while the women earned their share of conference and district titles as well.
Under Hazen’s guidance, the men’s track & field team – which he served as the head coach from 1968 to 1995 – won 18 conference titles in a row from 1972 to 1989. District titles poured in, too, as the Pioneers won 19 including 16 straight between 1976 and 1991.
Hazen tutored a total of 325 All Americans if you combine honors earned in cross country and track & field, which account for more than 80 percent of the total number of All Americans in Malone athletics history.
In 2012, Hazen served as an assistant coach for the U.S. Track & Field Team at the London Olympics. He mentored the distance runners and Galen Rupp won silver at 10000 meters.
Hazen’s reach goes far beyond Canton, Ohio, where Malone University is located, as more than 100 of his former athletes are coaches themselves.