A native of Alexandria, Minn., Steph Bruening Payne came to UND in the fall of 1989 and was a four-year cross country and track letterwinner between 1989 and 1994. She is one of the most decorated female track and cross country athletes in Fighting Sioux history.
While at UND, Bruening Payne ran the 1,500, 3,000, 5,000 and 10,000 meters and was one of three Division II NCAA athletes to earn All-American honors in each of the events. Bruening Payne garnered 10 NCAA All-American honors and was the national runner-up four times in three different events.
Bruening Payne won four individual conference titles and still holds the outdoor NCC 3,000-meter record. Bruening Payne also holds three current Fighting Sioux school records in track. She was twice named the UND Female Scholar Athlete of the Year and was a three-time recipient of the GTE Academic All-American Team award.
In her senior year, Bruening Payne was named a top ten finalist for the prestigious NCAA Woman of the Year award presented to the nation's top female athlete for all divisions of the NCAA.
After leaving UND, Bruening Payne has assisted coaching women's cross country and track at Concordia University in St. Paul, Minn., and is currently teaching and coaching softball at Our Savior Lutheran Schools in Houston, Texas. She teaches sixth-eighth grade math and first-fifth grade computers.
A 1994 graduate of UND with a bachelor's degree in physical education, Bruening Payne will receive her master's degree in education in May 2006.
She says her UND education "has given her a sense of pride in what she does and a desire to be the best in all aspects of her life."
Bruening Payne resides with her husband Alex and children Ayrton, Peyton, Heyden and Carson in Houston, Texas.
She lists her hobbies as running, reading and spending time with her children.