More than Just Track and Field

November 28, 2010


Alwayne Green and Laura Guidry


A good place to find the definition of proven success is on the Louisiana Tech University track and field team.


The Louisiana Tech track and field program came to prominence under the stewardship of Tech legend Jim Mize.According to the Louisiana Tech Athletic web site, during his tenure of 24 years he won conference titles in 1961 (Golf Conference), 1973 (Southland Conference) and 1974 (Southland Conference).


After Mize, the leadership baton was handed to head coach Gary Stanley. He is also the coach of the men and women cross country team, the middle distance and distant track events. Stanley, who is now in his twenty-ninth year as head coach, has managed to build a rock solid reputation for winning conference titles, among other major achievements.


“Louisiana Tech is a great environment for any student athlete who wants to perform well in their academics; it is also a great place for you to excel at track and field,” Kevin Stewart, a senior athlete on Tech’s track and field team, said.


Stanley is supported by a competent coaching staff that includes three coaches–associate head coach Shawn Jackson, assistant coach Larry Carmichael and assistant coach Justin Wickard. Jackson is in his sixteenth year at Tech and he is responsible for coaching the sprint, hurdle and the jump events. Carmichael is in his twentieth year at Tech and is responsible for the throwing events. Wickard is a new member to the coaching staff; he is the assistant hurdles coach and recruiting coordinator. Wickard, who has coached eighteen All-Americans prior to coming to Tech, said he looks to continue Tech’s dominance in the Western Athletic Conference as he intends to positively impact athletes’ lives.


The achievements of Tech’s track and field team range from graduating from college to wonderful performances in the sports department. As it relates to track and field success, it has to be viewed in two ways, Stanley said.


“On the regional, qualifying for the last six or five years, we have had anywhere from 20 to 25 athletes hit the NCAA regional standards in their events,” Stanley said. “And that is by far the highest in the state of Louisiana with the exception of Louisiana State University, and it’s one of the highest in the conference.


“Then, of course, the women have won six consecutive outdoor championships, one of the best dynasties in the history of the WAC. The men have finished up near the top and we are proud of that too.”


Other success stories can be seen in the exploits of former Tech athletes Antoinette Cobb and Jason Morgan. Meanwhile, the torch continues to burn with new Tech sprint sensation Quanisha Sales.


Cobb, a honors graduate, won several conference titles, a regional title, qualified for the NCAA a couple times and was ranked seventh in the nation and as high as sixteenth in the world in the 100-meter hurdles this year. In addition to her exploits on the track and in the classroom, she was honored by Collegiate Women Sports Awards and American Honda Corporation for overcoming her battle with cancer, according Louisiana Tech Athletic website.


Morgan was by far one of the most outstanding track and field athletes during his time at Tech, and even as a professional he continues to excel. Morgan said he was discus conference champion, regional champion, and two-time NCAA finalist. He also said he is currently Central American and Caribbean Games champion, national champion and record holder of the discus in Jamaica.


Sales was named the 2010 WAC freshman of the year after winning the 100-meter, 200, and the 4×100-meter relay. She also finished fourteenth at the USA Junior Track and Field Championships earlier this year.


These success stories were made possible, due to the efforts of the athletes and the committed coaching staff, who are all aware of their respective duties.


“We have a lot of continuity with our coaching staff. They do the bulk of the work with this track team,” Stanley said. “We have been able to make the kids feel like success at the conference level is important; it’s the window through which the program is viewed.”


Morgan said there is a good coaching environment, team oriented, and the desire to win are some of the things that has made Tech done so well in track and field.


The Louisiana track and field team looks toward more success stories in the future and producing well-rounded athletes. Cobb has touched the lives of many people across the country with her success story. She said she hopes Tech track and field athletes will continue to be dedicated to their academics and then track and field.


“Remember that you’re a student-athlete,” Cobb said. “The work and effort you put into track should also be put into your school work.”