Akita was lead the men’s and women’s cross country programs as well as assisting with the track & field programs.
MORRIS, Minn. – The University of Minnesota Morris has named James Akita as the new head coach of Cross Country and assistant coach for the Track & Field programs. Akita comes to UMN Morris with nearly two decades of head coaching experience at the NCAA Division III level.
In his time as a head coach, Akita has produced more than 100 all-conference honorees in cross country and track & field. Many of his cross country teams have been nationally ranked and he has had 10 seasons in which his teams have ranked in the top 25 nationally in team GPA.
“I am excited to welcome Coach Akita to Cougar Athletics,” said Director of Athletics Matt Johnson. “James’ background as a former NCAA Division III student-athlete and as an experienced Division III head coach were evident throughout the interview process, and his vision for Cougar Cross Country aligns with our strong history of student success in and out of competition. Cross Country and Track & Field are important parts of our Cougar culture, and I am excited to see their continued growth.”
Most recently, Akita was the head coach of both cross country and track & field at Lake Forest College, a post he held for two years. Before that, he spent 14 seasons as the head men’s track & field coach and cross country coach at Elmhurst College, his alma mater.
As an undergraduate, Akita was a two-year captain of both the cross country and track & field teams and earned eight all-conference honors in the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin (CCIW). He set five school record at Elmhurst, was a CCIW champion in the 5,000 Meters, and qualified for a pair of NCAA Division III Track & Field Championships.
After graduating from Elmhurst with degrees in History and Secondary Education, Akita earned a Master of Arts in Teaching from Rockford College in 2005. At Rockford, he was a graduate assistant for a first-year program before being hired on to lead the program at Elmhurst.
In addition to his coaching career, Akita also was a Program and Event Manager for the Chicago Area Runners Association. He holds a USA Track & Field (USATF) Level I Coaching Certification.
Akita will join Minnesota Morris for the outdoor portion of the team’s track & field schedule in 2022 before leading the cross country program this fall.