Seymour native hired as boys track coach at Columbus North


Columbus North recently hired two coaches to replace departed track and field coach Lou Sipe.

Trent Hillenburg will take over the boys track program, and Rick Sluder will assume girls coaching responsibilities. Both were assistants last season.

Hillenburg is a 2000 Seymour and a 2005 Butler graduate. He competed in football, wrestling and track at Seymour and played football at Butler.

Hillenburg began his career in education at the Jefferson Education Center for one year. He then moved to North, where he has been a social studies teacher and assistant football coach for 13 years and an assistant track coach for seven years.

This spring, the Bull Dog boys finished third in Conference Indiana, second in the North Sectional, third in the Warren Central Regional and tied for 31st in the state finals.

“It’s exciting to get to work with these young people on setting their goals and achieving them through competition,” Hillenburg said. “Getting to coach this program that has produced the champions that it has and achieve its collective success, it at the same time is both challenging and humbling in the best way possible.”

Sluder took over last season as the Bull Dogs girls cross-country coach. He also was an assistant track coach in 2019.

Before coming to North, Sluder had been a teacher and coach the previous 11 years at Munster, where he was the boys cross-country coach for 11 years, the girls cross-country coach for five years and the girls track coach for eight years.

Sluder was named Indiana Class 3A co-cross country coach of the year in 2014 by the Indiana Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches. His boys cross-country teams at Munster won four Northwest Crossroads Conference titles, four sectionals, four regionals and placed third in the 2014 state finals. In girls track, Sluder’s teams won eight consecutive NCC crowns, five consecutive sectional crowns, and he is a six-time NCC Coach of the Year. He coached athletes who earned all-state honors in nine track events, including the 2016 high jump state champion in girls track.

Sluder is a 1995 North Central (Farmersburg) graduate. He twice qualified for state in cross-country, and he qualified for state as a senior in track in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters. He won sectional titles in both events and a regional crown in the 3,200.

Sluder went on to Indiana State, where he earned 12 letters in cross-country, indoor track and outdoor track. After graduating in 2000, he went on to run professionally with the Indiana Invaders from 2000-06 and also was an assistant coach for cross-country and track at Franklin College from 2001-03.

This spring, the Bull Dog girls track team finished third in the conference, second in the Franklin Sectional and seventh in the Shelbyville Regional.

“This program has a rich history of team and individual success,” Sluder said. “We look forward to continuing that tradition. Our boys and girls programs have worked hard together under Coach Sipe to build winning programs. Now, with Coach Hillenburg, we will continue that approach for even more success.”

Sipe had served as head coach of both programs for the past six years and head coach of the boys program for eight years. His family moved to the Cincinnati area in June to be closer to his wife’s parents, and he will be a teacher and assistant track coach at East Central.

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