The Michigan State cross country and track and field programs have a new director. Bill Beekman, MSU vice president director of athletics, announced Lisa Breznau as the new director of of the programs on Tuesday.
Brezau had been working as interim director since longtime director/head coach Walt Drenth retired from the position last November. Brezau has coached at Michigan State for 11 years, serving as an assistant coach for five years from 2010 through 2015, before getting promoted to the associate head coach for the cross country and track & field programs in 2015.
In her one year as interim director, Brenzau led the Michigan State women’s cross country team to its second-straight Big Ten title. She also guided the MSU men’s and women’s cross country teams to the best combined finish in program history, as the women finished fourth at the NCAA Championships, while the men finished 17th — the fourth-place finish was the women’s best since winning the NCAA title in 2014 (Brenzau was an assistant coach on the 2014 championship team).
Additionally, at the 2021Big Ten Outdoor Track & Field Championship, Morgan Beadlescomb (5,000 meters) and Sophia Franklin (pole vault) captured individual Big Ten titles under Brenzau’s tutelage.
Due to her success this past year, Brenzau was named the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Great Lakes Region Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year in March.
Benzau, then know as Lisa Senakiewich, was also a standout student-athlete for the Spartans. She earned a pair of All-America awards in 2008-2009, taking fourth in the 5,000-meter run at the 2009 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships with a time of 16:28.88, and taking 27th place overall at the 2008 NCAA Cross Country Championships, completing the 6K course in 20:33.40.
In an official release from MSU Athletics, Breznau had this to say:
“I am beyond excited and grateful for the opportunity to lead Michigan State University Cross Country and Track & Field,” Breznau said. “Since my time here as a student-athlete, my passion has been our team and MSU. It has been an honor to be coached by and work with our former Director, Coach Drenth. I want to thank him for creating this vision and for providing me with the tools to succeed in any type of adversity. I also want to thank our Athletic Director Bill Beekman for his leadership, as well as Assistant Athletic Director Epiphany Clark for her support and guidance throughout this year and beyond. Our program and athletic department include many remarkable individuals; thank you for your effort and investment as the foundation of our Spartan team. I look forward to building upon our past success and continuing the tradition of excellence in MSU Track & Field and Cross Country.”
Beekman was equally excited to announce Brenzau to the permanent role:
“We are excited to announce Lisa Breznau as our Director of Cross Country and Track & Field,” Beekman said. “She’s done an outstanding job this year since taking over as interim director in November, including winning a Big Ten Championship in women’s cross country, excellent NCAA finishes by our men’s and women’s cross country teams and guiding individuals to Big Ten Championships on the track. Lisa has a passion for Spartan cross country and track and field, which first developed during her time as a student-athlete, where she experienced the tradition of excellence that exists within the Spartan programs. I look forward to watching her guide student-athletes to even greater heights in the future.”