A former track & field star himself, four-time NJCAA Coach of the Year James Segrest is best known as a highly successful track & field coach and administrator at Odessa College.
Segrest started his running career at Bangs High School (Texas) where he singlehandedly won the 1954 state track meet, finishing with a total of 34 points and winning the 100 yard, 220 yard, and 440 yard dashes and finishing fourth in the long jump. He continued his career at Abilene Christian, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree. At one point, Segrest held seven national records. Segrest also set two world records during the 1958 season as a member of 440 yard and 880 yard relay squads.
After graduation, Segrest spent time as head track & field coach at several Texas schools: Bonham Junior High, Monahans High School, and Permian High School. In 1973, he accepted a position as head track & field coach at Odessa College.
From 1973-87, Segrest established the Odessa College track & field teams as perennial national contenders. His teams won a total of 11 national championships and finished as runners-up at three more championships, and Segrest coached over 300 NJCAA All Americans. The Wranglers also won 12 conference championships, eight Texas Junior College State Championships, and six NJCAA regional championships.
In 1987, Segrest was named athletic director at Odessa College. He continued to serve in that position until his retirement in 1994. The retirement was short-lived; Odessa College asked Segrest to come back as track & field coach for one more year, to aid the program’s transition to a new coach. Segrest accepted and coached his last season at Odessa from 1994-95.
In recognition of his accomplishments, Segrest served as head track & field coach for the U.S. team at the 1979 World University Games, and he was named a Runner’s World magazine All Star Coach in 1984. Segrest is honored in several Halls of Fame, including the Abilene Christian Athletics Hall of Fame, the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, the NJCAA Hall of Fame, and the Western Junior Athletic Conference Hall of Fame.