Lori Miller Sundgren grew up off of Olive Drive and spent her childhood running around the neighborhood with her sister, Erin, and the Bimat, Silver kids. She started running at a young age, when her Aunt Tresa (Bumgarner) Rosenow and Uncle Brian Bumgarner would drop her off at their friend Howard’s house and she would chase their car all the way up dusty, unpaved Ethyl Street to their home on Shell Street.
Lori attended the Norris School Jr. High and in both seventh and eighth grade, Lori was second in the nation in the 1500 meters. She also set a county record of 4:44 in the 1500, which held for over 25 years.
At North, Lori was coached by the always patient Gary Kuster. During her freshman cross country season, she received a baptism by fire from Foothill athlete and true class act Mary Ann Martinez. Their matches pushed Lori to work hard and strive to be better. During the next four years, Lori went unbeaten in individual league track competition, won four SYL 800 meter titles, four SYL 1600 meter titles, a valley championship in both the 800 and 1600, qualified for the state meet all four years in both the 800 and 1600, and medaled at the state meet in both cross country (10th) and track (6th) her senior year. Lori was a four time MVP in both track and cross country while at North. She was All-Area Athlete of the Year and was the Bakersfield Californian Prep of the Week. Lori also attend the Olympic Training Center track and field camp in Colorado Springs. She received letters from 50 different colleges and eventually chose Cal State Northridge.
At CSUN, Lori set the school’s freshman record in the indoor mile. At the inaugural Cal-Nevada Championships at UCLA, she placed third in the 1500. Lori graduated from CSUN in 1997 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Studies. She cherishes the lifelong friends she made during her five years there. Lori earned her teaching credential and taught in the Bakersfield City School District for three years. She was also hired by Dale Tedrow to be an assistant track and cross coach at North. This is where she met her husband, longtime North High track and cross country coach, Darin Sundgren.
In 2003, they had Devon, their only child, who is a football player like his grandpa and North High Hall of Famer John Miller. Lori was a teacher and counselor in the Norris School District for 15 years. To this day, the highlight of her career was being on the team that opened William Bimat Elementary, alongside fellow North High grads Tonya Moore Sandoval, Sarah Bootman Barker, and Pam Roth Teagarden. These days Lori is a faculty member at Taft College, where she runs the Learning Center.
Lori credits her parents, John and Debbie Miller, with every success she has had in her life, from getting her college degrees and credentials, to her athletic success, to being a parent. Of her eleven years of cross country and track meets across the United States, she can only remember them missing one race. They were up and awake for her pre-dawn workouts with a stopwatch and cold water in hand. They have provided the unconditional love and support that every kid should be so lucky to have.