Entering his third season as a volunteer assistant for the Illinois track team is Chris Saunders. A former Illinois distance standout, Saunders works primarily with the Illinois distance runners after earning two letters in track and one in cross country from 1994-96. In 1995, Saunders earned All-America honors after running the 1,200-meter leg of Illinois' distance medley relay team that set the school record of 9:36.33.
Prior to his time at Illinois, Saunders was a NCAA Division II All- American in cross country at The University of South Dakota and was a two-time NCAA qualifier in the 1,500 meters. Prior to transferring to Illinois, Saunders held South Dakota University records in the 1,000 meters and the mile. In 1994, Saunders finished ninth in the 1,500- meters at the NCAA Division II meet, and was the only American in the finals.
A USA Track and Field Level 1 certified coach, Saunders is the Illinois recruiting coordinator for distance events on the track as well as cross country.
A 1996 graduate of Illinois with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, Saunders also earned M.S. from Illinois, in Curriculum and Institution. He previously coached the Champaign Central High School girls’ track and cross country program for three years, and is currently the Coordinator of Student Services in the Champaign Unit 4 School District.
Saunders lives in Savoy, Ill., with his wife Jodi, a four-time track and field All-American at South Dakota. The couple has one daughter, Morgan.