We wanted to briefly interrupt our D1 Preseason XC Top 25 Rankings to bring our readers a quick update on some key coaching changes around the NCAA. Here is some high-level analysis for these on-the-move coaches...
UTEP Coach Paul Ereng Leaves Miners & Joins Texas A&M, Will Lead 800 Meter Group
Earlier this year, it was found that Texas A&M's 800 meter coach, Milton Mallard, was no longer listed on the Aggies' roster. Since his departure, Texas A&M has hired long-time UTEP coach, Paul Ereng, as the team's next middle distance coach.
Ereng is one of the NCAA's most accomplished individuals in the middle distance events, both as an athlete and as a coach. The 1988 men's Olympic champion over the half-mile distance is also the NCAA record holder for the men's indoor 800 meters. Ereng ran 1:44.84 (800) on the indoor oval back 1989.
During his time at UTEP, Ereng was responsible for developing two men who were among the greatest half-milers in NCAA history.
Michael Saruni currently sits at NCAA #2 all-time for the men's indoor 800 meters and also has the NCAA record over the same distance on the outdoor oval. Meanwhile, Emmanuel Korir sits at NCAA #4 all-time for the outdoor track season with a time of 1:43.73.
Now, Coach Paul Ereng will oversee the direction of an elite middle distance group for a program that has produced countless all-time stars in the half-mile event.
Princeton Distance Coach Jason Vigilante Promoted to Director of Track & Field and Cross Country
Earlier this year, Princeton's men's Director of Track & Field and Cross Country, Fred Samara, announced his retirement. But now, two months later, the Tigers' men's distance coach, Jason Vigilante, has been promoted to that same Director role.
Coach Vigilante, whose cross country team was just listed at TSR #24 in our site's Preseason XC Top 25 Team Rankings, has helped establish Princeton as a national-caliber program and the definition of cross country excellence in the Ivy League.
Over the last 12 years, Vigilante has led Princeton's men's cross country team to six conference titles. On the track, the Tigers have found significant success in the distance events via the likes of Ed Trippas, Sam Ellis, Samuel Rodman and Nicholas Bendsten (and those are just the recent names).
The Princeton men also won the 2013 national title in the DMR and have made numerous appearances on the cross country national stage as a team. Vigilante is also responsible for developing middle distance star, Robby Andrews, during his historic collegiate career at the University of Virginia.
Alabama Assistant Coach Connor Mahoney-Ashberry Hired as Next Distance Coach at Purdue
The Stride Report has confirmed that Alabama assistant distance coach, Connor Mahoney-Ashberry, has been hired as Purdue's next distance coach.
The hiring comes shortly after John Oliver, the former head cross country coach of the Boilermakers, left the program (somewhat surprisingly) to join Oklahoma State as an assistant distance coach.
Mahoney-Ashberry is a name that has been circulating among coaching circles as a likely candidate to land a new role this summer. The soon-to-be former Alabama assistant has worked under Coach Dan Waters for the last few years, gaining valuable experience and exposure as the Crimson Tide have found national-caliber success.
Now, Mahoney-Ashberry will guide a program which former coach John Oliver has proven can produce national-caliber success, albeit, not consistently.
Shayla Houlihan Joins Iowa As Assistant Coach
One of the more experienced distance coaches on the west coast, Shayla Houlihan, is now venturing to the midwest to join the University of Iowa. She will now be an assistant coach for their distance group.
However, it is not entirely clear to The Stride Report exactly what her role with the team's middle and long distance runners will be (men vs women, lead vs assistant, etc.)
Between collegiate coaching jobs, Houlihan previously worked with the professional training group, Under Armour Dark Sky. There, she helped develop top-caliber distance athletes, specifically on the women's side, such as Sharon Lokedi and Weini Kelati.
Prior coaching stints of Houlihan's include stops at the University of California and UC-Santa Barbara. During her time with each of those teams, Houlihan found fairly strong success, all to varying degrees as far as conference and national competition is concerned.
Other Notable / Known Coaching Hires
Missouri hires Tanner Anderson & Paige Duca as assistant distance coaches
Devin Clark hired as assistant coach at Georgetown
Eric Hansen joins Seattle Pacific as assistant distance coach
John Carroll hires Jamie Dailey as assistant coach & sports information coordinator