Michael Mendez enters his sixth year at the helm of the McKendree cross country and track and field programs for both the men’s and women’s teams. In 2017, he led the men’s and women’s programs to their highest indoor finishes with each team finishing fourth, the women’s team grabbing a third-place finish outdoors, and the men’s team winning its first Great Lakes Valley Conference title by totaling 150 points and outscoring the runner-up by 20 points. Mendez was also voted GLVC Men’s Outdoor Track and Field Coach of the Year for his efforts.
Over the last five years the McKendree track and field program has set and broken over 25 school records, garnered over 100 GLVC All-Conference athletes (47 of which includes GLVC champions), earned 39 Midwest All-Region honors, established 30 NCAA national qualifiers (12 of which acquired NCAA All-America Honors and two of the 12 earned second-team accolades). Throughout this time, the Bearcats also accumulated 15 GLVC Athletes of the Week and six GLVC Athletes of the Year.
Each of the programs have also accumulated many academic accolades as well. The programs have garnered 10 GLVC All-Academic Team Awards, 183 GLVC Academic All-Conference individual selections, five GLVC Council of Presidents Academic Excellence Award recipients, 18 All-Academic awarded individuals, and four All-Academic teams. The cross country and track and field athletes have also made the Dean’s List (semester GPA over 3.6) over 140 times and the President’s List (semester GPA of 4.0) over 50 times.
In the fall of 2012, Mendez set out to establish a premier Division II program as McKendree became full active members of the NCAA in 2013. In five years, the programs have grown to almost 90 athletes targeting both local and out of state recruits.
A native of Plainfield, Ill., Mendez was an accomplished track and cross country athlete in both high school and as a McKendree student-athlete. In his four years at McKendree, Mendez helped the Bearcats establish two school records, a fourth-place team finish at the 2007 NAIA Track and Field Outdoor National Championships, and eighth-place team showing at the 2009 NAIA Cross Country National Championships, and the American Midwest Conference "Triple Crown" in 2010 (cross country, indoor track and outdoor track titles). Mendez was a four-time All-Conference performer in cross country, a two-time NAIA Academic All-American, a five-time NAIA All-American and a two-time NAIA national champion.
Mendez currently resides in Lebanon and still competes in both running and triathlon events.