Despite the jolt sixth-year coach Joe Franklin has delivered to University of New Mexico’s entire running program—inspiring consistent yearly improvements in each athletics team under his leadership—the Mountain West title has proved elusive for Lobo track and field. In fact, the University of New Mexico’s men’s track and field hadn’t claimed a conference title since winning the WAC outdoor championship in 1967. That all changed this past February in Nampa, Idaho, where the Lobos rode a program-record 185 points to their first conference crown in 46 years.
But Franklin isn’t the only young coach who’s shaken up their school’s all-around running program and ended a men’s indoor conference title drought. Take fellow sixth-year coach Theresa Fuqua’s Houston Baptist men’s squad, who survived a dramatic 4×400 finals to seize the school’s first ever Great West Conference Championship. An impressive feat in and of itself, until you consider that Fuqua’s women Husky indoor team, simultaneously nabbed a Great West crown.
Or consider the work Randy Hasenbank has done at Loyola Chicago in just two seasons. Taking over a Ramblers men’s track team that had been a Horizon League bottom feeder for quite some time, Hasenbank’s men followed a runners up performance in last year’s championship, with the program’s first Horizon title since 1980. Along with the women’s 2013 Horizon championship, this past season marked the school’s first ever indoor sweep to boot.
Then there’s Prairie View A&M’s Chris Clay. After propelling the Panthers to SWAC runners up in his first season, Clay took the next step in 2013, ousting Bertram Lovell’s dominant Grambling State to claim the SWAC title. For Prairie View A&M, this year’s men’s indoor championship marks their fifth overall. Incredibly, Clay has had a hand in all five as either an athlete, assistant, and now head coach.
Other new-to-the-scene men’s indoor track and field coaches who have their programs on the rise:
- Kraft’s Pirates have steadily climbed up the C-USA championship results, posting the program’s best finish (3rd) in both of the last two seasons.
- Last in his first season at the helm, The Crimson have only climbed since, recently posting their best men’s indoor finish since 1985.
- Since his first year, Hamer’s Broncs have been the model of consistency at the MAAC Championships, coming in second for the fourth consecutive year, but inching ever closer to overtaking conference powerhouse Manhattan.
- Their progress capped at third the last few years, Tiffin’s Bulldogs finally made the push higher, garnering a second place finish at the SoCon Championship that earned Tiffin Men’s Indoor Coach of the Year honors.
- The Hilltoppers under Jenkins have only known success. This year’s Sun Belt title marked the program’s first back-to-back conference championships since 2003-2004, and won Jenkins his third Indoor Coach of the Year Award in just his fifth season.
- Under Gilroy, the Cowboys have maintained or bettered their SLC placing each season. This year’s 3rd place finish is the program’s best since 1991.
- The Wildcats’ third place finish at this year’s MEAC Indoor Championship is the program’s highest ever.
- The MEAC competition has gotten fiercer as the conference has expanded, but Angel’s Rattlers finished higher for a second straight year.
- Taking over a squad that finished dead last in the 2010 Big Ten Champions, Turk had the Illini just points shy of the conference crown, in this, just his third season. Their 2013 runner up finish is the program’s best since 2000.
- Though no strangers to A-Sun titles, Eggerth led the Owls to the program’s first ever back-to-back conference championships, this time by the largest margin of victory in A-Sun history (44.5 points).
The chart below displays the rises in conference championship meet placing for schools under two and three-year coaches. School logos in 2010 and 2011 denote the season before each respective coach was hired.