Jenny Ryan was appointed the Northern Michigan head track & field coach before the 2014-15 season. Before she was named head coach, she was an assistant coach who worked primarily with the middle-distance and distance runners.
Ryan also serves as the head coach of the women's cross country team and spent 11 years as a Nordic skiing assistant coach.
Since Ryan took over as head track & field coach, seven Wildcats have qualified for the NCAA Track & Field Championships: Shaylay Huebner (2018 Indoors), Kieren Becker (2017 Outdoor), Kameron Burmeister (2017 Indoor & Outdoor, 2018 Indoors & Outdoors), Samanthia Johnson (2015 Outdoor, 2016 Outdoor, 2017 Outdoor), Ine Mylle (2016 Outdoor, 2017 Indoor & Outdoor, 2018 Outdoors), Dana Shove (2017 Outdoor) and Jasmine Williams (2015 Outdoor, 2016 Indoor, 2017 Indoor & Outdoor).
In 2018, the Wildcats recorded a pair of third-place finishes at the Indoor and Outdoor GLIAC Championships. The indoor finish tied a program best, while the outdoor finish was the best in program history. Her guidance during the outdoor campaign earned Ryan GLIAC Women's Outdoor Coach of the Year honors, the first during her coaching career.
In 2017, Northern Michigan placed fifth at both the GLIAC Indoor Championship and GLIAC Outdoor Championship, its best finishes since 2011 and 2012 respectively. Six athletes and one relay team combined to capture nine medals at the two conference championship meets. Six athletes went on to compete at the NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Track & Field Championships, with three earning All-American awards for their efforts.
In 2016, three Wildcats earned medals at the GLIAC Outdoor Track & Field Championships: Mylle (gold, triple jump), Williams (bronze, discus) and Burmeister (bronze, 10,000-meter run). At the league's indoor championship meet, Michelle Juergen captured a bronze medal in the high jump.
In 2013-14, Ryan coached Christina Toogood to a GLIAC indoor title in the 1,500-meter run and third-place finishes in the 800-meter run at the GLIAC indoor and outdoor championships. Toogood also earned All-American honors during the indoor season.
Northern Michigan has been named an All-Academic Team by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association nine-straight years. To earn this distinction, a team must have recorded a cumulative team GPA of 3.00 or better and posted a team score at their respective NCAA regional championship.
As an assistant cross country coach, Ryan helped coach the Wildcats to the NCAA Division II Championships six years in a row. There, the team finished eighth, sixth, fourth, seventh and seventh. Over that stretch, Northern Michigan won two GLIAC titles and a NCAA Great Lakes Regional championship and produced 10 All-American runners.
As a Nordic skiing assistant, Ryan helped lead the Wildcats to the NCAA Ski Championships each year. Under Ryan's watch, 48 Wildcats earned All-American accolades and four captured NCAA titles. Ryan also coached the 2006 U.S. Junior World and U-23 team in Slovenia.
Ryan spent two years as head coach Sten Fjeldheim’s graduate assistant and was named a full-time staff member in August 2002.
Before joining the Wildcat staff, Ryan held numerous coaching positions. From 1997-2000, she held two coaching positions in Bozeman, Mont., with the Bridger Ski Foundations Junior Ski Program and the Masters Cross-Country Skiing Training and Racing Group. Ryan also served as a volunteer assistant coach for the Montana State women’s cross county ski team. She taught math at Chief Joseph Middle School, where she also coached sixth-grade track & field.
A native of Burnsville, Minn., Ryan attended Montana State, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in math education with a minor in physical education and health. Ryan skied for the Bobcats for four years and garnered All-American and Academic All-American honors, placing fourth at the 1988 College Nationals.
Ryan continued her skiing career after college, gaining national recognition in cross country skiing (1992, 1994) and biathlon (1998), competing in nine National Championships and three Olympic Trials. She was a member of the United States Olympic Education Center ski program at Northern Michigan from 1990-93.
Ryan also competed in the 1999 World Master’s Championships in Grindelwald, Switzerland, winning one gold and two silver medals. Ryan later won two gold medals at the 2004 Masters National Championships.
Ryan received her master’s degree in exercise science from Northern Michigan in 2002 and was named Outstanding Graduating Graduate Student. She is a 2010 graduate of the NCAA Women’s Coaches Academy and a level I track & field coach.