USTFCCCA Hall of Fame Class of 2012 is Best Described as Exceptional

By Tom Lewis, USTFCCCA

July 24, 2012   

NEW ORLEANS – The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) announced the six inductees that will be enshrined in the USTFCCCA Hall of Fame later this year. The Class of 2012 – Dick Booth, Dick Hill, Vin Lananna, Bob Pollock, Fran Welch, and John Zupanc – makes for an exceptional group. The six have tallied a number of national and conference titles amongst them and they have been the coaches of several of the world’s greatest athletes.

The 2012 USTFCCCA Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held December 19 at the USTFCCCA Convention in Orlando, Fla.

 

Dick Booth

In a career that has spanned nearly 40 years, Dick Booth established himself as one of the world’s most successful jumps coaches. Holding a resumé that includes the tutelage of 49 NCAA individual champions and 150 All-America performers, Booth’s record speaks for itself.

Currently an assistant coach at the University of Alabama, he boasts a timeline that includes 27 years of service at the University of Arkansas where he helped the Razorbacks become the NCAA’s winningest men’s program. Before joining Alabama, Booth had two successful years at Florida where his pupils helped the Gators to two NCAA indoor team titles.

Booth started his collegiate coaching career as an assistant coach at Arkansas in 1978 and was there for six years before venturing to Louisiana-Lafayette for his lone head-coaching position in 1985.

During his four-year tenure at ULL, he guided high jumper Hollis Conway to two NCAA titles and spectacular heights that included the current indoor and outdoor collegiate records of over 7-9. Conway went on to win a silver medal in the high jump at the 1988 Olympics and a bronze medal in 1992, becoming one of two Americans to medal twice in the event.

Booth then returned to Arkansas where he would stay for another 21 years. During his second stint at Arkansas, the Razorbacks captured 14 NCAA indoor track & field titles, adding a string of eight consecutive outdoor championships between 1992 and 1999 and another championship streak from 2003 to 2006.

Booth coached 11 Olympians, 45 individual national champions, and 137 athletes who gained All-America honors while at Arkansas. His list of former athletes includes icons such as Mike Conley, Erick Walder, Robert Howard, Edrick Floreal, Brian Wellman, Jerome Romain, Ray Doakes, Matt Hemingway, Melvin Lister and Kenny Evans.

A two-time Olympic medalist, Conley won the gold medal in the triple jump at the 1992 Olympic Games with the third-longest, wind-aided jump in history.

While at Florida in 2011, Booth guided Christian Taylor and Will Claye to first- and second-place triple jump finishes at both the NCAA Championships and U.S. Championships. The NCAA title was Taylor’s second-straight outdoor championship and third overall under Booth. Claye was also named the USTFCCCA’s National Field Athlete of the Year during the outdoor season as he added a runner-up showing in the long jump at the NCAA outdoor meet.

A native of Blue Mound, Kan., Booth competed collegiately as a quartermiler at Ottawa University. He began his coaching career in the Kansas high school ranks with positions at Wellington, Fort Scott, and Shawnee Mission South High Schools. He gained a reputation as one of the premier prep field events coaches in the country while working with four state record holders in seven seasons at Shawnee Mission South.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education from Ottawa in 1966 and a master’s degree in physical education from Kansas State in 1970.

Booth and his wife, Merry Lee, have a son, Marc, and a daughter, Reagan Russell. The family has a proud athletic tradition as Marc was a punter for Arkansas’ football team, while Reagan was a member of the women’s track and field team at Louisiana-Lafayette. Booth also has six grandchildren.

 

Dick Hill

A proven coach, an American track & field leader, and a savvy administrator, Dick Hill had seen it all. Having a career that spanned nearly 50 years within the athletics community, Hill’s legacy goes beyond a single school or sport.

Hill coached a number of Olympians – many of whom became household names. As a coach, he was credited with 24 national champions and an astounding 34 world records were tied or broken by his athletes.

Hill graduated cum laude from Southern University in 1960 with a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education and became the first student from a predominately-black college to earn a NAIA Scholar-Athlete Graduate Scholarship. He came to Southern as a basketball, football, and track & field recruit, having won the New York state decathlon title while attending Charles E. Gorton High School in Yonkers.

After earning a master’s degree in education administration from the University of Buffalo, Hill turned his sights to coaching and landed his first job at Florida A&M. In 1963 and 1964, Hill guided the Rattlers to conference titles in both years at the helm and mentored sprinter and wide-receiver Bob Hayes. Soon after being drafted in the seventh round by the Dallas Cowboys, Hayes entered the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. At the games, Hayes won two golds. In the 100 meters, he was the Olympic Champion and set a new world record. He followed with gold as a member of the 4×100 relay. As a football player, Hayes would have a Hall of Fame career and was champion with the Cowboys in Super Bowl VI.

The short stent at Florida A&M proved to be a good launching point for Hill’s next stop – his alma mater, Southern.

From 1965 to 1972, Hill was the school’s head track & field and cross country coach. Southern won five-straight NAIA track and field championships and Track and Field News honored his team, naming it the program of the decade for the 1960s. In addition to being named NAIA Coach of the Year in 1965 while at Southern, he coached Olympic gold medalist hurdlers Willie Davenport and Rod Milburn along with Olympian Theron “T-Bird” Lewis, who set the 440-yard indoor world record in 1967.

Hill went on a year’s sabbatical during his days at Southern to work on his doctorate in education, which he received from Buffalo State in 1970.

After Southern, Hill moved on to San Diego State where he would stay for nine years. In 1980, the Aztecs won the WAC title and, in the year prior, SDSU went 12-0 in duals.

Hill, in the late 1970s and 1980s, coached two-time Olympic decathlon gold medalist Daley Thompson, two-time Olympic gold medalist in the 400 meter hurdles Edwin Moses, and Olympic gold medalist and long jump world-record holder Bob Beamon – among others.

Hill was named as assistant coach to Team USA that was the first national team to compete against China in their country. He was also an assistant for national teams that included the 1981 U.S. World Cup team and 1983 Pan-America Games team.

For the 1992 Olympic Trials, Hill was a member of the TAC Executive Oversight Committee.

In the final 20 years of his career, Hill made his mark as an administrator.

From 1981 to 1986, Hill was the Athletics Director at Southern. Along with initiating a new cable and radio sports network for the department, he led SU to three-straight SWAC All-Sports Trophy victories.

He moved on to Louisville from 1986 to 1992 where he was Senior Associate Athletic Director before turning to MIT where he spent 1992 to 2000 as the Director of Athletics and intramurals.

 

Vin Lananna

Vin Lananna is being inducted into the USTFCCCA Coaches Hall of Fame during the pinnacle of his storied career. Not only a successful coach, but also a leading administrator and organizer, Lananna has managed a decade that could be matched in the profession by few others.

In the last seven years, as head man of the University of Oregon teams, Lananna has guided the Ducks to six NCAA team titles and 13 conference championships. In addition, he has been the figurehead of many world-class events at UO’s Historic Hayward Field, including the 2008 and 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials.

He has been a driving force behind the University’s bids that landed the Trials, the 2010, 2013 and 2014 NCAA Track & Field Championships, the 2009 and 2011 USATF Championships, and the 2014 IAAF World Junior Championships. Lananna also served as the head men’s coach for Team USA at the 2011 IAAF World Track & Field Championships in Daegu, South Korea.

All told, over a collegiate coaching career that has spanned more than 35 years, Lananna has led his squads to 11 national titles and 42 conference crowns.

The Men of Oregon captured NCAA titles in cross country during the 2007 and 2008 seasons and notched the indoor track & field crown in 2009. UO also won the USTFCCCA’s John McDonnell Program of the Year awards for the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 school years.

Lananna also presided over perhaps the best individual season in the history of men’s collegiate distance running. Galen Rupp became the first person ever to win six distance national championships during the same academic year. Rupp was the 2008 NCAA individual cross country champion, the 2009 NCAA Indoor 3,000 and 5,000 meter champion, the 2009 NCAA Outdoor 5,000 and 10,000 meter champion, and anchored Oregon’s winning indoor distance medley relay team. Rupp was also the Pac-10 cross country medalist and won the league’s 10,000 meter title and capped his collegiate career by winning the title at the USA Track and Field Championships at Historic Hayward Field. Rupp was the inaugural winner of The Bowerman – an award bestowed to the most outstanding collegiate track & field athlete of the year – in 2009.

Ashton Eaton won The Bowerman in 2010 after setting the world record in the heptathlon at the NCAA Indoor Championships.

Oregon’s women have been on top of the headlines most recently. The Ducks are the three-time defending indoor national champions and have finished runner-up outdoors in three of the last four years. Oregon has also swept the last four USTFCCCA Terry Crawford Women’s Program of the Year awards. The most consistent figure for the Ducks during that time has been Brianne Theisen who won eight NCAA titles – including three in the indoor pentathlon and three in the outdoor heptathlon. Theisen is a finalist for The Bowerman in 2012.

Prior to his arrival at Oregon, Lananna served as athletic director at Oberlin College in Ohio. At the internationally-renowned liberal arts institution, he led the revitalization and reorganization of the department of athletics and physical education. His efforts to improve fundraising and enhance the department’s resources allowed Oberlin to increase staffing and upgrade facilities, including the construction of a new stadium for soccer, lacrosse, and track and field.

Renowned for his ability to develop talent, Lananna’s reputation as an exceptional coach was secured during his tenure as director of track and field at Stanford University from 1992 to 2003. In his time at Stanford, Lananna built one of the nation’s elite programs. His cross country and track and field teams claimed five NCAA team championships, 35 top-10 NCAA finishes, and 22 NCAA individual titles. The Cardinal men and women also won 17 Pacific-10 Conference team titles and 45 individual conference crowns in addition to 15 West Regional cross country championships. His athletes excelled in national and international competition, representing Team USA at the Olympic Games and the IAAF World Championships.

At Stanford, Lananna received three National Coach of the Year cross country honors, nine West Region Cross Country Coach of the Year awards, ten Pacific-10 Cross Country Coach of the Year honors, and two Pacific-10 Track and Field Coach of the Year awards. He also served on the NCAA Track and Field Committee from 2001-03. In 2004, Lananna traveled to Greece as an assistant coach for Team USA at the Olympic Games in Athens. He has also served as an assistant coach at the 1999 Track and Field World Championships and as head coach in the 1990 and 1996 World Championships and 1994 World Junior Championships in cross country.

Lananna’s leadership and vision for the future of track and field positioned Stanford as a destination for elite collegiate and post-collegiate competition. Athletes from across the country came to “The Farm” to participate in high performance invitationals designed to optimize athletic performance. His commitment to advancing the sport also led to the creation of a post-collegiate club team based at Stanford, and the University hosted the 2002 and 2003 USA Outdoor Championships and an annual IAAF Grand Prix meet.

Lananna arrived at Stanford after serving as assistant athletic director and head coach for cross country and track and field at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H.

From 1980 until 1992, his men’s and women’s cross country teams posted a combined seven NCAA top-20 finishes—including men’s runner-up efforts in 1986 and 1987—and 37 combined All-America cross country and track and field awards. The men’s team won 13 Heptagonal League titles and the women had six runner-up finishes. In recognition of the teams’ accomplishments, he was named the 1986 NCAA Men’s Cross Country Coach of the Year and was a seven- time New England Region Men’s Cross Country Coach of the Year and a four-time New England Track and Field Coach of the Year.

His coaching career began in 1975 when Lananna was named head coach of cross country at his alma mater, C.W. Post in Greenvale, NY. As an athlete (1971-75), he ran cross country and track and field and was captain of the 1974 team that finished fourth in the NCAA Division II Championships. He received his master’s of arts degree from Long Island University in 1989.

Lananna and his wife, Elizabeth, reside in Eugene, Ore. Their sons Brian and Scott are graduates of Dartmouth College.

 

Bob Pollock

The late Bob Pollock led Clemson to 21 ACC Championships in his 20 years as head coach of the school’s men’s track & field program. He established department-wide Clemson coaching records for ACC titles (21), ACC Coach of the Year selections (19) and NCAA Regional Coach of the Year selections (16). He coached the men’s indoor track team to 11 top-20 finishes and the men’s outdoor program to 10 top-20 seasons. Seven of the indoor track national finishes were within the top ten.

During the 1988-89 season, Pollock’s first at Clemson, he led his teams to the "Triple Crown" of ACC titles. That year, the Tigers won the conference titles in cross country, indoor and outdoor track & field, a first in Clemson history.

Clemson finished eighth nationally indoors in 1990. Seven individuals were awarded All-America honors and the Clemson squad made national news by running a world-record time in the 4×800 meter relay to win the national championship in that event.

His 2004 squad won the ACC outdoor title with a conference record 224 points.

In 20 seasons under Pollock between 1988- 2008, Clemson won 11 indoor ACC titles, nine outdoor and one cross country title. His indoor teams won every ACC crown from 1989-93 and then again from 1997-2002. He led the Tigers to outdoor conference titles in each of his first three seasons. In cross country, Pollock’s 1988 team won the league championship and finished fourth at the NCAA national meet.

Pollock was named Indoor National Coach of the Year in 1992 after leading Clemson to a national runner-up team finish, the best in program history.

Pollock coached athletes who won 13 national champions during his time at Clemson. Travis Padgett was Clemson’s most recent NCAA champion under Pollock, claiming the 60 meters in 2007. He finished second in the nation at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the 100 meters as well that year. Michael Green, Shawn Crawford and Ato Modibo all won multiple national championships under Pollock’s watch.

Pollock mentored athletes that won nearly 200 All-America honors during his tenure at Clemson, including recent Clemson two-sport athletes Jacoby Ford and C.J. Spiller, who ran for Pollock their first two years with the Clemson track program.

Former sprinters Crawford and James Trapp combined to earn 21 All-America certificates under Pollock’s direction. Clemson had at least one All-American in each of his 20 seasons.

Fourteen student-athletes from Pollock’s program went on to compete in the Olympic Games. Two of the athletes, Crawford and Carlton Chambers, won gold medals for their respective countries. Crawford won the 200 meters for the U.S. in the 2004 games, while Chambers was part of Canada’s gold medal winning 4×100 relay in Atlanta in 1996.

Success and conference titles were nothing new to Pollock when he came to Clemson. During 14 years as head track and cross country coach at Appalachian State University, Pollock led the Mountaineers to five Southern Conference outdoor titles, four indoor championships and one cross country title. His teams swept the Southern Conference indoor and outdoor meets in 1984, 1985, 1986, and 1987.

The Rochester, N.Y., native began his coaching career at The Citadel, where Pollock served as head cross country and assistant track coach from 1972-74.

Pollock earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education from The Citadel in 1971, and was a four-year letterwinner for the Bulldogs as a distance runner. His senior year, he was voted the team MVP as well as team captain. He also earned a master’s degree in physical education from the University of Georgia in 1972.

Pollock passed away on February 18, 2010 at the age of 60. He was inducted posthumously into the Clemson Athletics Hall of Fame in 2010.

 

Fran Welch

Although he never competed in track & field as an athlete, the late Fran Welch is remembered as a key figure in the rise of the Emporia State program.

His track and cross country teams claimed 18 league crowns, four NAIA cross country championships, one NAIA track & field title, and one NCAA small college cross country title during his 24-year career at the school. He coached at the school from 1928 to 1943 and from 1946 to 1955.

Welch, a member of the NAIA Hall of Fame, came to Emporia State in 1914 and lettered in football, basketball, and baseball.  When he quarterbacked the football team, the Hornets had a 24-1-2 record.  Later on, with 24 years as a football coach, he compiled a 116-81-15 mark, and his teams won six conference titles.

Born in 1895 in Hartfield, Kan., Welch was a resident of the Sunflower state his entire life. Welch was awarded a Bachelor of Science in education in 1918 from Emporia State (then Kansas Normal College), then completed requirements for a degree in agriculture at Kansas State University. He served as a U.S. Army Lieutenant in World War I and took a leave of absence from teaching to serve in World War II as a Captain and special services officer at Fort Riley.

Welch was a member of the Physical Education Department staff at ESU from 1920 until 1965, when he retired. He was an internationally known track and field coach and he had trained a number of Olympic athletes.

ESU’s football and track & field stadium was renamed Welch Stadium in 1960 in his honor.

Welch passed on June 19, 1970 at the age of 74.

 

John Zupanc

John Zupanc recently completed a triumphant run as head men’s track & field and cross country coach at UW-Oshkosh. He guided the Titan program, which became one of the dominant figures in NCAA’s Division III, to many successes.

Overall as head coach, his squads compiled six NCAA team championships and seven conference crowns.

Zupanc started with the school as a volunteer assistant on the track & field squad in 1981 but was shortly called upon to become the head cross country coach in 1982. Zupanc served as an assistant track and field coach until becoming the head coach to start the 2005 outdoor season.

As the men’s cross country coach, Zupanc tallied four NCAA team titles with a three-year sweep in 1988, 1989, and 1990. He added a crown in 2002 as part of eight trophy (top-four) finishes in the squad’s 19 appearances at the NCAA meet. Thirty-six of his cross country athletes won All-America honors including four-time honorees Dave Lambert and Scott Steuernagel. In 2002, Zupanc was named National Cross Country Coach of the Year.

His cross country squads also won seven WIAC titles and five won conference individual crowns. Steuernagel was a two-time WIAC champ with victories in 1989 and 1990.

As head track & field coach, Zupanc’s athletes claimed ten NCAA event titles and 115 All-America honors. The Titans finished in the nation’s top-four on five occasions indoors. In addition, with a sweep of NCAA track & field crowns in 2009, UW-Oshkosh claimed the 2008-2009 USTFCCCA Al Carius Program of the Year title.

Zupanc received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

Zupanc’s wife, Deb Vercauteren – a Class of 2006 inductee into the USTFCCCA Coaches Hall of Fame – was part of a powerful coaching duo. While John coached the men, Deb coached the women at UWO. Vercauteren led the women of UW-Oshkosh to 18 national crowns, ten of which came in outdoor track & field.