Green, Griffin Named National High School Track & Field Coaches of the Year

NEW ORLEANS – Both Juris Green and Jesse Griffin knew they had gifted teams to work with entering the 2017 high school track & field season.

Green’s boys had yet to win a team title at The Woodlands, a Class 6A program in the talent-rich state of Texas, but the pieces appeared to be coming together.

Griffin’s girls from Lee’s Summit West in Missouri earned their first state title last year and returned just about every athlete, so hopes were sky high for them as well.

Both teams reached the pinnacle this past season and by virtue of how they won their respective state titles, Green and Griffin were named the National Boys and Girls High School Track & Field Coaches of the Year by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) on Thursday.

Green and Griffin were selected by an esteemed panel of peer coaches and experts from around the nation out of the original pool of state-by-state winners announced earlier this month. Both Green and Griffin will be honored at the annual USTFCCCA Convention in December.

TRACK & FIELD COACHES OF THE YEAR

YEAR BOY’S WINNER GIRL’S WINNER STATES
2017 Juris Green
The Woodlands HS (Texas)
Jesse Griffin
Lee’s Summit West (Mo.)
State-By-State
2016 Pete Boudreaux
Catholic HS (Louisiana)
Jeff Carpenter
Bishop Kelly HS (Idaho)
State-By-State
2015 Aaron Berndt
Wayzata HS (Minnesota)
Carmen Jackson
Miami Northwestern HS (Fla.)
State-By-State
2014 Michael Fields
Hinds AHS (Mississippi)
Dave Turnbull
Summit HS (Oregon)
State-By-State

“Words can’t express how I’m feeling right now,” Griffin said of being named the National Girls High School Track & Field Coach of the Year. “These awards aren’t just for the head coach, I can tell you that. They’re won because of the dedication of the coaching staff and athletes.”

Green, the National Boys High School Track & Field Coach of the Year, was equally as humbled.

“I’m speechless,” Green said. “On the back of a really great season, this is the cherry on top of the icing on top of the icing on the cake.”

Green’s Highlanders rolled through the regular season on their way to the UIL Class 6A State Track & Field Championships. The Woodlands scored 231 points to win their district meet and then totaled 115 at regionals in a pair of dominant performances.

Many expected the Highlanders to rely on their strong distance corps at the state meet – but due to the depth of the rest of the state, that wasn’t the case. Instead, The Woodlands received just two of their 60 points from those athletes and won individual titles in the 100, long jump and shot put in addition to setting a national record in the 4×200.

“We got it done as a team and that’s what I’m most proud of,” Green said. “We weren’t just a group of distance runners. We were sprinters, throwers, jumpers – you name it.

“It goes without saying that the work ethic was high. Being in Texas you can never guarantee you’ll have a season like this, so you savor it when you do.”

Griffin’s Titans waited until the best possible moment to brandish their power.

It was at the MSHSAA Class 5 State Championships where Lee’s Summit West scored the most points out of any team – boys or girls – in meet history, regardless of classification. The Titans totaled 109 points to win the state title going away (109-62) and edge the old scoring mark of 107 set by Rock Port’s boys.

Lee’s Summit West qualified athletes in 17 of 19 events and scored in all but one of them. The Titans won individual titles in the 400, 800, high jump and discus with Class 5 records in the latter two events.

“You get to see the hard work they put in during the offseason and then for it to come to fruition is special,” Griffin said. “I’ve had several teams win state championships in cross country and be complacent the next year, but that wasn’t the case here.

“They were also so supportive of each other across event areas throughout the year, especially at the state meet. That made everybody want to do better and it was a perfect synergy.”