Thornton, Bolden slated to head 2008 Olympic Team Staff – Track & Field


Vicky Oddi
Communications Coordinator
USA Track & Field

INDIANAPOLIS - University of Texas men's head coach Bubba Thornton and UCLA women's head coach Jeanette Bolden have been nominated to serve as the men's and women's head coaches, respectively, for Team USA's track and field squads for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, USA Track & Field announced Thursday. James Li and Rich Torrellas are nominated as head managers.

Assistant coaches nominated to the men's staff are Harvey Glance, John McDonnell, Joe Vigil, Irving "Boo" Schexnayder and Criss Somerlot. Women's staff nominees are Chandra Cheeseborough, J.J. Clark, Connie Price-Smith, Rita Somerlot and Kim Keenan-Kirkpatrick. Relay coaches are Brooks Johnson and Orin Richburg.

All Olympic Team staff selections are pending final approval of the U.S. Olympic Committee Board of Directors.

Thornton, Bolden and the Team USA staff will guide the World's #1 Track & Field Team at the Olympic Games in Beijing, China. In Olympic competition, Team USA track and field athletes have won 317 gold medals and 736 medals overall, by far the most won in any sport by any country. In 2004, track athletes won eight gold and 25 medals total at the Athens Olympic Games, the highest medal tally since the 1992 Olympic Games (30).

Thornton to lead Team USA men's team

In 11 seasons at the helm of The University of Texas men's track and field program Thornton has transformed the Longhorns into a national title contender, and Texas athletes have won 10 NCAA individual titles. He has produced 34 indoor All-Americans and 35 outdoor All-Americans, and his athletes hold 14 of the 19 indoor school records and 11 of the 21 modern outdoor records.Under his leadership, the Longhorns have logged 11 top-10 NCAA finishes (five indoor, six outdoor) and seven Big 12 conference titles (two indoor, five outdoor).

Thornton came to Texas following a 14-year run as head coach of Texas Christian University's men's and women's track and field programs, where he developed 72 NCAA All-Americans and guided the men's squad to five NCAA top-10 finishes (1983-87-88-89-91). He coached the Horned Frogs to five NCAA 4x100-meter relay championships (1986-87-89-91-95) and the 1983 4x400-meter relay national title.

A veteran of international coaching staffs, Thornton was Team USA's men's head coach at the 2003 World Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Paris and at the 1996 World Junior Championships in Sydney, Australia. He was an assistant coach for the 2000 Olympic team in Sydney.

"I'm humbled and honored to be part of a very elite group of coaches who represent our country at the Olympics and thank USA Track & Field for nominating me," said Thornton. "It is such a privilege to coach the U.S. Olympic Team. I am looking forward to the challenges, the camaraderie and the competitions. To our 2008 Olympic track and field hopefuls, I encourage you to train hard and prepare for what will be special moments in Beijing."

Bolden to lead Team USA women's team

Currently in her 14th year at the helm of her alma mater of UCLA, Bolden has continued UCLA's reputation as an NCAA powerhouse. As a coach, her squads have won three NCAA team championships - outdoors in 2004 and indoors in 2000 and 2001 - and were runners-up at the 2005 NCAA Outdoor Championships. In all, she has been part of five NCAA champion teams, both as a coach and athlete. Her UCLA teams have a 72-0 dual meet record, with 13 consecutive wins over archrival USC. The Bruins have been rated the nation's top dual meet team on nine separate occasions.

In 1999, Bolden was an assistant coach of the U.S. women's team at the World Outdoor Championships, and in 1998 she was named the USOC Track & Field Developmental Coach of the Year. At the completion of the '94 collegiate campaign, Bolden served as an assistant coach for the West squad at the Olympic Festival in St. Louis.Bolden also will bring her invaluable experience as an Olympic athlete to her Olympic staff position. An Olympic gold medalist as part of Team USA's 4x100m relay at the 1984 Olympic Games, she also placed fourth in the 100 at those Games and was selected to be a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic team that did not compete in Moscow. "I'm lost for words and I'm truly blessed that USA Track & Field and others have enough confidence in me to nominate me for this position," said Bolden. "I truly appreciate all the hard work and dedication that an athlete puts in, and I'm committed to making their Olympic experience a positive and successful one."

In addition to her coaching career, Bolden is executive director and coordinator of the Jeanette Bolden Asthma and Allergy Track Clinic and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation.

Li, Torrellas to serve as head managers

Team USA men's head manager James Li is an assistant coach at the University of Arizona, where he directs the distance runners and cross country program. He previously had coached at Washington State University, where he worked with the Cougar track and field and cross country programs for more than 10 years and coached athletes to seven individual NCAA titles, including current 1,500m American record holder and two-time Olympic medalist Bernard Lagat.

Li joined the Washington State coaching staff in 1985 as a graduate assistant before becoming head men's track and field coach at Minnesota State University at Mankato from 1990 to 1994. He rejoined the Washington State staff in 1994 as a track and field assistant. He was named the head cross country coach in 1998.

A native of China, Li became a U.S. citizen in 1998 and was part of Team USA's staff at the 2001 World University Games in Beijing. He has previous coaching experience at the Sichuan Sports Technique Institute in Sichuan, China, and he was a provincial team coach from 1983 to 1985. He was a middle distance runner during his youth and collegiate days at the Beijing Institute of Physical Education, from which he graduated in 1982. He won the Chinese collegiate 800 meters title in 1979.

Team USA women's head manager Rich Torrellas has served on 14 Team USA staffs as a manager, coach, Team Leader and Chef de Mission. He served as the Head Manager for the 2006 World Indoor Championships, 2001 World University Games and the 1995 World Championships, and was Assistant Manager for the 1992 Olympic Team.

He currently serves as the Secretary of the USATF Women's Track and Field Committee, is a National Technical Official (NTO), completed a USATF Level 2 Coaching Education School and was a former USATF Race Walk Committee Chair. Rich has coached for 35 years at the high school and college levels and currently teaches in the New Haven, Conn., Public Schools.

Men's staff assistant coaches

Harvey Glance - Sprints/Hurdles: Former World-class sprinter Harvey Glance, a 16-time All-American, three-time Olympic Team qualifier and 1976 gold medal winner is in his tenth season as the head coach of the men's track and field team at the University of Alabama, where he has coached 66 All-Americans, 35 conference champions and eight national champions.

Glance was the men's head coach at the 1999 Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Canada, where the U.S. led in total medals won with 295. He also was an assistant sprints/hurdles coach for Team USA at the 2003 World Championships in Paris, France and the assistant sprints/hurdles coach at the 2006 World Junior Championships in Beijing.

In 1996, he was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and in 2002 he was named one of the Top 100 State of Alabama's Greatest Athletes of the 20th Century.

John McDonnell - Middle Distance: A 2005 inductee into the National Track & Field Hall of Fame and a 30-time NCAA Coach of the Year, McDonnell is the winningest coach in NCAA history. Since taking over as head coach in 1977-'78, his University of Arkansas Razorback squads have won 42 NCAA Division I team national championships and produced five seasons in which they won the triple crown (indoor track, outdoor track & cross country) in the same year. His 12 consecutive NCAA indoor championships (1984-1995) is the longest string of national titles by any school in any sport in collegiate history.

Prior to McDonnell taking charge of the Arkansas program, the Razorbacks had produced three track and field All-Americans. Since then, Arkansas athletes have won 111 NCAA event titles and produced 181 All-Americans who have earned 643 All-America honors. McDonnell's squads have won 81 team Conference championships and 33 consecutive cross country conference titles.

Joe Vigil - Endurance: One of America's most renowned distance running coaches, Dr. Joe Vigil will serve as Team USA's endurance coach in Beijing. Vigil coached at Adams State University in Alamosa, Colorado for 28 years. While at Adams State, his teams won 18 national championships, and his runners earned an astonishing 425 All-American honors.

Vigil served as a U.S. international coach 17 times and has been inducted to five different halls of fame. Known for his application of science to coaching, Vigil coached Deena Kastor to the 2004 Olympic bronze medal in the women's marathon, and worked with Meb Keflezighi's coach, Bob Larsen, in crafting the hot-weather training program that also led to Meb winning the 2004 Olympic men's marathon silver medal. For his efforts in that year, Vigil was awarded the USOC's "Doc" Councilman Award for incorporating science into coaching.

Irving "Boo" Schexnayder - Jumps/Combined Events: In his 12th season as the jumps and combined events coach at LSU, Schexnayder has been the mastermind behind 19 individual NCAA titles secured by 10 different athletes during his tenure in Baton Rouge. Also a prominent figure on the international scene, Schexnayder most recently guided the efforts of reigning world indoor and outdoor triple jump champion Walter Davis. He also served as an assistant coach for Team USA at the 2006 IAAF World Junior Championships in Beijing.

Schexnayder serves as Chair of the Jumps program of USA Track & Field's Coaching Education Committee and formerly was chair of USATF's Coaching Education Committee and Biomechanics Subcommittee.

Criss Somerlot - Throws: A retired teacher, Somerlot was a head high school track and field coach for 30 years, the last 24 of which were in Centerville, Ohio. Now a resident of Westerville, Ohio, Somerlot has enjoyed a distinguished career as a meet official for many years and has served USATF in a variety of ways, including as the organization's Junior Commission Administrator. Somerlot currently serves as USATF's throws development chair for men.

Somerlot was Team USA's men's throws coach at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. He as also served on team staffs at the 1991 Eight Nations Games in Spain, the 1994 U.S. Olympic Festival and the 1999 World Indoor Championships in Maebashi, Japan.

Women's staff assistant coaches:

Chandra Cheeseborough - Sprints/Hurdles: Currently the head coach at her alma mater of Tennessee State, National Track & Field Hall of Famer Chandra Cheeseborough broke onto the international track scene as a 16-year-old when she won two gold medals at the 1975 Pan American Games, taking the 200 in American-record time of 25.77 seconds.

A three-time Olympian under the tutelage of National Track & Field Hall of Fame coach Ed Temple, Cheeseborough won two gold medals (4x100 and 4x400 relays) and a silver (400m) at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, and twice she set the American record in the women's 400. She was named Tennessee State's men's and women's coach in 1999. Internationally, she served as an assistant coach at the 2001 World Outdoor Championships and the 1999 Pan American Junior Championships.

J.J. Clark - Middle Distance: Now in his fifth year as head coach of the women's track and field and cross country programs at the University of Tennessee, Clark's team won the 2005 NCAA Indoor title, the school's first NCAA women's team title in any sport besides basketball. He was 2005 USTCA National Indoor Women's Coach of the Year and is a five-time Southeastern Conference coach of the year. In ten years at the University of Florida, Clark developed 44 NCAA All-Americans, including sister and three-time national champion Hazel Clark. He coached his younger sister and his wife, Jearl Miles-Clark, as they made the 2000 U.S. Olympic Team in the 800 along with his sister, Joetta.

Internationally, Clark served as the head U.S. women's coach at the 2001 World Outdoor Championships in Edmonton, Canada, and was an assistant coach at the 1997 World Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

Connie Price-Smith - Throws: A four-time Olympian and the women's head coach for the 2007 Pan American Games, Price-Smith has already seen coaching success in three seasons at the helm of Southern Illinois University. She was named 2005 Missouri Valley Conference Women's Indoor Coach of the Year after guiding the Salukis to their first indoor conference title in 13 years.

Price-Smith enjoyed a long career as a thrower and was on 34 international squads, including four Pan-American Games teams. In Pan-Am competition she won two gold medals in the shot put (1995, '99), a silver in the shot in 1991, and a discus bronze medal in 1987. She was a silver medalist in the shot put at the 1995 World Indoor Championships in Barcelona, Spain; a silver medalist in the shot at the 1998 Goodwill Games; and a bronze medalist in the shot at the 1998 World Cup in Athletics. A 1985 graduate of SIU, Price-Smith began throwing the shot put her senior year as a Saluki.

Rita Somerlot - Jumps/Combined Events: A 2000 Olympic Games assistant coach for the women's high jump, pole vault and combined events, Somerlot is one of Team USA's most experienced women's staff members. She has been head manager of three major international teams, including the 2004 and 2006 World Junior Championships and the 2005 World Outdoor Championships. An inductee into the Ohio Coaches Hall of Fame, Somerlot has been involved in track and field as a coach since 1969 and was named one of the Women's Sports Foundation's Coaches of the Year in 1999. In 2000, she became the first high school coach to be named to a women's Olympic Team staff.

Kim Keenan-Kirkpatrick - Endurance: A former competitor at Kent State University, where she set three school records in middle distance events, Kim Keenan-Kirkpatrick was named the Associate Director of Athletics at Seton Hall University in August of 2006. She also serves as USATF's Women's Long Distance Running Committee Vice-Chair and is on the organization's Athletes Advisory Committee, High Performance Executive Committee and Women's Long Distance Running Championships Committee.

She was an assistant women's team coach the 2005 IAAF World Outdoor Championships in Helsinki, Finland, and was women's head manager for Team USA at the 2006 NACAC Under-23 Championships in Santo Domingo. She was the head coach for Team USA at the 1999 Yokohama Women's Ekiden and served as Team USA's athlete liaison at the 2004 World Indoor Championships in Budapest.

Relay Coaches

Brooks Johnson: A former head coach at Stanford University (1979-1992) and California Polytechnic-San Luis Obispo (1993-96), Johnson was the 1984 Olympic Team women's head coach

Before moving into collegiate coaching, Johnson was a teacher, coach, and athletic director at St. Albans School in Washington, D.C., where in 1970 he founded the Skip Grant program for students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds. He began his track career as an athlete at Tufts University in the 1950s, where he was a record-setting sprinter. Most recently, Johnson was director of the ARCO Olympic Training Center, and he is currently the High Performance Division chair for USATF, in which capacity he serves on the Board of Directors. Since 2003, he has been National Relay Teams coach for USATF. He was inducted into the United States Track Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1997.

Orin Richburg: The Team USA head coach for the 1997 World Indoor Championships and the 2001 World Outdoor Championships, Richburg converted the University of Washington's women's team into one of the best dual-meet squads in the nation, ending his 17-year career with the most dual meet victories in school history. Prior to his stint at UW, Richburg spent seven seasons at Kent State University, where he recruited and coached 1984 Olympic 200m bronze medalist Thomas Jefferson.

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