Josh Runkle tabbed to lead New Trier boys swimming program

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Josh Runkle never entertained the thought of going after the New Trier boys swimming and diving coaching job until he got some encouragement from people close to him.

One of those people was Mark Onstott, whose retirement after 20 seasons and seven state championships created the vacancy. Still, Runkle waited until the deadline day to fill out and turn in his application.

“I was not looking for a new job,” said the 42-year-old Runkle, who has been the coach at Glenbrook North. “But there were some messages persuading me to look at it. But I kept saying, ‘No, no, no, I love it at GBN. I love the people there.’

“But I then considered the history and tradition of [New Trier]. I also thought I might not have another opportunity like this in my career. The more I learned about it, the more attractive it became to me.”

On Monday, New Trier announced the hiring of Runkle as its boys swimming and diving coach as well as its director of aquatics. Runkle also will serve as an assistant to Mac Guy in the girls swimming and diving program and teach in the Kinetic Wellness department.

“His reputation as an excellent educator and coach and his track record of success in building community within his swim teams is well known,” New Trier athletic director Randy Oberembt said in a statement. “He is well respected both within the Central Suburban League and state. We are very pleased Josh has accepted the school’s offer to lead our boys swim and dive program.”

In 11 seasons at Glenbrook North, Runkle won six CSL North championships, three sectional titles and four sectional coach of the year awards, including one this past season. He previously was the head coach at Highland Park.

A native of Peoria, where he graduated from Richwoods, Runkle got his professional coaching start at New Trier; he served as an assistant on Onstott’s staff from 1996-98. Runkle, who earned a college degree from Western Illinois and a Master’s from National-Louis, said he was tasked with the strength training of the team.

Onstott, a member of both the Illinois Swimming Association and National Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association Hall of Fames, left his post after totaling 10 state trophies with the Trevians. New Trier took sixth place in the state this past season.

“Part of the intrigue of this job is to follow Mark,” said Runkle, who called Onstott both a mentor and a friend. “I owe him so much.”

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