CONVENTION UPDATE: Closer Look At The Sprints/Hurdles/Relays Symposiums

NEW ORLEANS – Technical Symposiums will once again take center stage at the annual U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Convention. This year the Technical Symposiums will be presented by REKORTAN.

There will be 32 Technical Symposiums spread across four days at the USTFCCCA Convention, which this year will take place in Phoenix, Arizona, at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa between Tuesday, December 12 and Friday, December 15.


For those who don’t know about the Technical Symposiums or need a refresher, four disciplines will be represented – endurance, jumps, sprints/hurdles/relays and throws – and with eight coaches sharing their knowledge, that brings us to a grand total of 32.

Here is a closer look at those coaches who are scheduled to present about sprints, hurdles and/or relays.

Andrea Blackett, Azusa Pacific

Topic: Training for the Hurdle Events

Andrea Blackett was recently named as an assistant coach at Azusa Pacific after spending a season coaching  the women’s sprints, hurdles and relays at UCLA in 2017. Blackett joined the UCLA staff from her alma mater Rice, where she served as an assistant coach.

Blackett is considered one of the most successful women’s track athletes to compete for Rice. She was an assistant coach for the Owls for five seasons after serving as a volunteer assistant coach for five years.

A veteran international competitor, Blackett represented Barbados in six IAAF World Championships (1997-07). She qualified for the final four times, and in 1999 she placed fourth. She competed in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, qualifying for the semifinal of the 400m hurdles, and she competed in the 400m hurdles at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Davian Clarke, UTEP

Topic: Coaching the 400 Sprints

Davian Clarke joined the UTEP track and field coaching staff in 2012. He has coached multiple athletes to Conference USA titles and has been a part of five C-USA team titles.

In 2016, Clarke mentored the women’s 4x400m relay team took gold at the C-USA Indoor Championships, which surged the women to earn their second consecutive C-USA Indoor title. Clarke directed junior Yanique Bennett in the 400 hurdles, where she placed second.

Clarke won a bronze medal at the 1996 Olympics in the 4×400 relay. He represented Jamaica in the Olympic Games in 1996, 2000 and 2004. Clarke is a two-time World Champion in the 4×400 relay and a silver medalist in the 400.

Landon Evans, Iowa

Topic: TBA

Landon Evans joined the University of Iowa Athletics Department in August 2012. His primary duties include directing the sports science department and strength & conditioning duties with the men’s and women’s sprints and jumps.

Prior to July 2016, he oversaw all strength & conditioning duties with track & field, and was the nutrition coordinator for Olympic sports.

Prior to joining the Iowa staff, Evans has been the Director of Sports Nutrition and Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach at Illinois State from 2010-2012.

Randy Gillon, Illinois

Topic: TBA

Randy Gillon is entering his fifth season as associate head coach of the Illinois women’s track and field team.

A former Illini hurdler, Gillon returned to Champaign after an eight-year stint as an assistant for Michigan State. He primarily worked with the Spartans’ sprinters and hurdlers, and assisted with the multi-events and middle-distance. While at Michigan State, Gillon served as an assistant coach for both the men’s and women’s track & field teams.

Prior to his time at Michigan State, Gillon served as an assistant coach at Illinois State for two years.

His coaching resume also includes one year as a volunteer assistant with the Illini women’s track & field team.

Eric Jenkins, Western Kentucky

TOPIC: The Disciplined Development of Relays

Erik Jenkins was named head coach of both the men’s and women’s track and field programs at WKU on January 1, 2008 after spending the previous eight years as an assistant on the Hill.

Jenkins has continued WKU’s storied track and field/cross country success, leading the programs to a combined 30 Championships in the Sun Belt Conference and Conference USA since 2008. Jenkins and his staff have developed athletes to a combined 71 All-America selections. Seventeen of those All-American performances came in WKU’s historic 2014 outdoor season in which seven athletes combined for 10 First Team All-American performances.

Duane Ross, North Carolina A&T

Topic: TBA

Duane Ross is the Director of Track & Field at North Carolina A&T.

Under Ross, N.C. A&T men and women have won a combined 32 (indoor and outdoor) individual Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference titles and a combined seven relay titles. Twenty-five of those titles have come during the outdoor conference championships and 22 of those titles belong on the men’s side and 17 of them belong to women.

This past outdoor season, Ross guided Christopher Belcher to the sixth fastest time in collegiate history over 100 meters (9.93).

Ross came to N.C. A&T after a stint at Methodist University. He began his coaching career as a volunteer assistant coach at his alma mater, Clemson.

Joe Van Gilder, Southern Connecticut State

Topic: Short Sprints

Joe Van Gilder, the 2014, 2015 and 2016 USTFCCCA Regional Women’s Assistant Coach of the Year both indoors and outdoors, recently completed his fifth year as an assistant coach with both the Southern Connecticut State University men’s and women’s cross country and track & field programs.

Over the course of the past four years, Van Gilder has helped both programs achieve considerable success. The men’s program has claimed three New England Championships, along with four Northeast-10 Conference titles. The women’s program finished as the 2015 New England and Northeast-10 Conference Outdoor Champions, as well as the runner-up at five Northeast-10 Championships, and also placed as the runner-up at the 2014 New England Outdoor Championships.

Van Gilder has also coached at Hartford, the University of Massachusetts and Valdosta State University at the collegiate level.