July 21, 2014
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Southern Miss Director of Athletics Bill McGillis announced Friday afternoon the hiring of Jon Stuart as the school's Head Men's and Women's Track and Field/Cross Country Coach.
Stuart, a 20-plus year veteran of coaching track and field, becomes the Golden Eagles' top coach after most recently serving as men's sprints and hurdles coach at his alma mater, The University of Georgia.
"I am very pleased to announce the hiring of Jon Stuart to lead our men's and women's track & field programs," said McGillis. "Jon emerged from a strong pool of outstanding candidates, in large part because of his extensive experience, but also because of his sterling reputation among some of the premier coaches in the country. We've hired a well-rounded coach who over the last 20-plus years has helped his student-athletes achieve tremendous success, both in competition and in the classroom. Having served as both a long-time assistant coach in one of the country's elite track programs, and as a head coach at the Division I level, Jon brings the expertise and depth and breadth of experience we need to build a championship-caliber program at Southern Miss.
"I am very confident he will provide great leadership, foster a positive student-athlete experience and be a fabulous fit with our student-athletes, staff and the Mississippi track and field community."
Under his guidance during the last eight seasons, the Bulldog sprinters/hurdlers have tallied six Southeastern Conference individual titles, an impressive 23 All-American certificates and one NCAA title. Stuart was named the 2012 USTFCCCA South Region Men's Assistant Coach of the Year. Stuart helped guide the Bulldogs men's program to a sixth-place showing in the NCAA Outdoor Championship in June, which was their best-ever finish in school history.
"I am very excited about the opportunity to take over the program at Southern Miss and build on the successes of Coach Bell, Coach Williams and Coach Stephen," Stuart said. It's going to take a lot of hard work from our coaching staff and a terrific group of student-athletes, but I'm confident we can build an outstanding program that will compete in time for Conference USA championships. I can't wait to get started."
The Bulldogs posted three All-Americans during this latest outdoor season, including senior Johnathan Smith, who finished 16th in the country in the 100 meters at 10.27. The men's 4x400 meter relay team posted a 16th place as well, while junior Drew Branch posted 17th place in the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the 400 meter hurdles.
Johnathan Smith, in his first season with the Bulldogs in 2013, clocked a 10.20 100-meter dash time to advance to the NCAA Championships in an event that routinely features times that are competitive worldwide. In 2012, the former Bulldog sprinter led his 4x400 relay team to both the NCAA indoor and outdoor meets and his 4x100 team to the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Seven-time All-American and three-time SEC champion Torrin Lawrence also earned All-America certificates in the 400 at both indoor and outdoor Nationals in 2012 after capturing the 2010 NCAA indoor title in the event. Lawrence was named the USTFCCCA South Region Men's Track Athlete of the Year for his efforts for the third time in his career. He officially ended his UGA career by shooting to No. 2 in the school record books with his 45.40 at the 2012 Olympic Trials semifinals. Stuart's sprinters and hurdles set 20 fresh marks in the Bulldog indoor and outdoor all-time top-10 lists during the 2012-13 seasons.
Stuart qualified his 4x100 team, 4x400 relay team, Lawrence in the 400 and Phillip Adams in the 400 hurdles, who clocked a 51.12 at the NCAA East Prelims, for the 2011 NCAA Outdoor Championships after altering the school record books in three of the four events during the season. Prior to competing outdoors, Lawrence earned runner-up honors at the 2011 NCAA indoor meet after completing his 400 in 45.96.
In just his second season under Stuart's tutelage in 2010, the electrifying Lawrence won an NCAA title, an SEC title and was named the 2010 USTFCCCA National Male Track Athlete of the Year. He clocked the third-fastest 400 collegiate indoor time in history (45.03) followed with an SEC meet record time of 45.10 to clinch his conference crown.
Stuart led New Jersey native Justin Gaymon, who completed his eligibility in 2009, to three SEC championships as well as six All-America certificates combined in the 400, 400 hurdles and 4x400 relay during his career. Gaymon finished atop Georgia's all-time lists in the indoor 400 (45.94), 400 hurdles (48.46) and the indoor 4x400 relay (3:07.45). He also joined David Dickens, Brian Etelman and Michael Proctor as they clocked the second-best outdoor time in school history in the 4x400 relay at the 2007 NCAA Outdoor Championships to finish fifth (3:04.13) and earn All-American distinction. Thanks in part to Stuart's crew, the Georgia have men nine top-20 NCAA finishes since 2000.
Georgia sprinters have had an array of memorable experiences over the last number of seasons. In 2007, Stuart helped Dickens cap his career off in style as the Wheeler High School graduate broke the school's indoor 400 record (46.27) at the SEC Championships. After Gaymon topped that indoor 400 time in 2008, Stuart guided Lawrence, then a freshman sensation, to the No. 2 spot on the all-time list after Lawrence crossed the finish line in 46.18 in 2009. Lawrence shattered the No. 1 mark in 2010.
Lawrence, who hails from Jacksonville, Fla., set the school's indoor 200 mark after opening the 2009 season with a 20.77 and a win at the Kentucky Invitational. Stuart continued Lawrence's development at the national meet as Lawrence earned All-American honors in the event.
During the 2006 campaign, Stuart saw Dickens break the indoor 200 record (21.05) and earn All-American honors at the NCAA indoor meet. Dickens, who scored in four events at the SEC outdoor meet, joined Gaymon, who advanced to the semifinals at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the 400 hurdles and moved to the then-No. 3 spot in the school record books in the event (50.20), as two of the top performers in the conference.
In 2005, a pair of Bulldogs led another outstanding group of Georgia sprinters and hurdlers and showed why their program is one of the most highly-respected programs in the nation. LaRon Bennett, who completed an outstanding career in Athens, and Demiko Goodman, who began his career at Georgia in an impressive fashion, were Georgia's leaders throughout the season. While Bennett logged a career-best time in the 110 hurdles (13.86) in the early rounds of the SEC Championships and then took fifth in the 400 hurdles at the NCAA Championships, Goodman, a receiver for the Bulldog football team, finished in third place in the 400 (a career-best 46.23) in the NCAA Regional meet and placed 16th in the NCAA Championships in his only complete season at the collegiate ranks.
In 2004, Stuart coached Bennett to a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Championships and a seventh-place finish at the U.S. Olympic Trials. Bennett's time in the 400 hurdles ranks him atop the Georgia all-time list. Stuart also guided the men's 4x400 and 4x100 meter relay teams to the NCAA Championships for the first time since 1999 and 1987, respectively. The 4x100 meter relay team posted a season best time of 39.60 to place third at the East Region Championships while the 4x400 meter relay placed second with a season-leading mark of 3:06.23. It marked the first time in school history that both relays were represented at the NCAA Championships. Indoors, Stuart's sprinters have continued to rewrite the Georgia record books with new marks in the 400 with Lawrence's performance and 4x400 relay (Gaymon, Michael Proctor, Phillip Adams, Lawrence; 3:07.45). In all, Stuart's sprinters sit atop the all-time lists in five different sprints.
Stuart coached the women's 1,600 meter relay teams that qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Championships from 2001-2003 and the 2000 team that qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships and set the school indoor mark. He also guided Ken Garrett to a school record and NCAA qualifying mark in the 400 meter hurdles in 2001.
Prior to returning to Georgia, Stuart served as the head track and field coach at ULM for a season. The Indians placed 16th on the men's side at the 1999 NCAA men's outdoor track and field championships under Stuart's direction, producing three All-Americans as well as one national champion in Andras Haklits. Before his coaching stint at ULM, Stuart led a nationally recognized sprint squad at the University of Texas-Arlington for three years. While at UTA, he helped produce 20 Southland Conference Champions and 11 NCAA Division I All-Americans. Stuart also helped the Mavericks capture nine Southland Conference team titles.
Before his collegiate coaching career, Stuart was the head track coach at East Paulding High School in Dallas, Ga., where his athletes set 11 school records.
Stuart started his coaching career as a graduate assistant for the Bulldogs under John Mitchell, from 1993-94. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Physical Education at Georgia in 1992 and his Master of Education in Physical Education in 1994.
The 1992 UGA graduate is married to the former Gail Moreland in December 2002 and has two sons named Jake and Scot.
Stuart replaces Kevin Stephen, who stepped down last month, to enter private business.
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