The United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) has awarded Tennessee’s director of track and field/cross country Beth Alford-Sullivan the South Region Men’s Coach of the Year. This award comes after the Vols finished in third place at NCAA Indoor Championships, their best finish since 2016.
"It is an honor to receive this award," Alford-Sullivan said. "This is truly a staff accomplishment and I am so proud of my staff and all the work they have put in this season."
Alford-Sullivan was regarded as a trailblazer upon her arrival to Tennessee in 2014. At Penn State, Sullivan became the first-ever female head coach of a men’s Power 5 program. At Tennessee, she became the first woman to direct/coach a men’s program in any sport within the SEC’s history.
Now, Alford-Sullivan has earned her 11th career USTFCCCA region coach of the year award. It is her third men’s coach of the year honor, as she now becomes the first women to win the men’s award in the South Region.
In addition to Alford-Sullivan, Tennessee assistant coach Nick Newman was recognized as the Men’s Assistant Coach of the Year in his first season with the Vols.
"I am very excited for Nick Newman to be recognized as the men's assistant coach," Alford-Sullivan said. "He works extremely hard on and off the track and has done a wonderful job with our jumpers and multi athletes."
Together, Alford-Sullivan and Newman have created an electric atmosphere on Rocky Top and progressed the program into one of the nation’s best. At each meet, athletes are outperforming their personal records, breaking school records or climbing the NCAA standings for their event.
"First, I would say I'm very proud of this team," Newman said. "This award is a true reflection of their talents and efforts this season. I want to give a special thanks to Coach Alford-Sullivan who has made my transition to Tennessee as easy as possible. She has been incredibly supportive and trusting from day one. We have a special program building here and it's awesome to be part of it."
Among the top accolades, Wayne Pinnock and Carey McLeod became the first teammates to finish first and second at the NCAA Championships in the men’s long jump event since 1985.
McLeod also won a gold medal in the long jump and bronze medal in the triple jump at the SEC Championships. He was the only male jumper to perform in both horizontal jumping events at the NCAA Championships.
Freshman Favour Ashe earned a bronze medal in the 60m dash at his first NCAA national competition.
Yariel Soto became the first Tennessee athlete to medal in the heptathlon at the SEC Championships since 2009. Soto finished in third which also qualified the redshirt sophomore to compete at the NCAA Championships where he posted 6 personal best and a point total of 5,832.
These performances highlight what was an historic indoor season for the men’s team, fueled by the leadership of Alford-Sullivan.
"Our team competed hard all season long and competed with pride and purpose every weekend, Alford-Sullivan said. "All of our young people stepped up to the challenge and never shied away from the stage or the competition. All of us are proud to wear the Orange & White and we can't wait to get the outdoor season started."
Tennessee will start the 2022 outdoor season at the Raleigh Relays, hosted by NC State on Thursday, March 24 in Raleigh, North Carolina.