Player Bio: Ron Mann :: Track
| Ron Mann
5th season at U of L
Northern Arizona '72
Ron Mann is in his fifth season as the track and field head coach at the University of Louisville following a highly successful 24-year stint in the same role at Northern Arizona University.
Mann, who was introduced as U of L's head coach at a press conference on July 2, 2004, at the Cardinal Park Track Stadium, brings an impressive resume and a proven record of success at the national level to the Cardinal track and field program and is leading the way as U of L continues its pursuit of becoming a national level program, a regional power and consistant BIG EAST Conference championship contender.
That goal became a reality in 2006, 2007, and 2008 as the Cardinal men's and women's track and field teams had their best seasons in school history with three Top 10 national finishes, two NCAA event titles, three BIG EAST team titles and two BIG EAST runner-up finishes. The most recent success for the Cards came from the women's outdoor track & field team which won the programs's first ever women's conference team title at the 2008 BIG EAST Outdoor Championships and advanced a school record 10 athletes, a women's record six, to the 2008 NCAA Outdoor Championships where three became NCAA All-Americans following a school record eighth place finish on the women's side at the regional meet.
Mann and his staff were named the 2008 BIG EAST Women's Coaching Staff of the Year, while Jere' Summers earned Women's Field Performer of the Meet following a dominating feat in which she won the discus and shot put titles with meet record performances. Summers capped a memorable outdoor year with a ninth place finish at nationals, becoming only the third All-American and first in a throwing event for the Cardinal women.
Louisville had five athletes vie for Olympic bids while Mann was honored to serve as the men's middle distance coach for Team USA. Two other individuals represented Team USA at the IAAF World Junior Championships.
The honors kept rolling in as Steven Hnat and Tarah McKay earned BIG EAST Scholar-Athlete Sport Excellence Awards for the men's and women's track & field programs in which one athlete from each sport is selected based on academic and athletic achievement as well as community service. The Cards were recognized again when the USTFCCCA selected seven members to their All-Academic Team.
In March, U of L opened the calendar year with four athletes competing at the NCAA Indoor Championships. Seidre Forde concluded the indoor season by matching the best individual finish by a Cardinal woman with a 10th-place finish in the triple jump, which set a school record. The fall capped another brilliant year for one of the fastest rising programs in the nation as Tarah McKay earned an individual bid to the NCAA Women's Cross Country Championships.
In 2007, the Cardinal men's cross country team earned a school record ninth-place finish at the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind. Leading the way was senior Wesley Korir and junior Cory Thorne who became the program's first All-Americans in cross country.
The NCAA success came less than four weeks after winning the first conference title in school history at the 2007 BIG EAST Championships at E.P. "Tom" Sawyer Park in Louisville. Overall, the Cardinal cross country team had two All-Americans, a combined six All-BIG EAST performers (four men, two women) and six All-Southeast Region performers (four men, two women) to cap the best cross country season ever.
Leading the way for U of L was the Cardinal men who earned Top 10 team national finishes in cross country, outdoor track and field and indoor track and field, while also winning their first NCAA event titles at the 2007 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. Led by sophomore jumpers Tone Belt and Andre Black, the Cardinal men, competing for the first time in school history at the indoor championships, finished 10th overall after the "Black-Belt" duo became the first pair of teammates to ever sweep the NCAA long jump and triple jump titles.
After senior thrower Arthur Turland became the program's first indoor All-American with his performance in the weight throw, Belt continued the history making day that night as the sophomore set a new school record on his second attempt to dominate the field in the men's long jump. A day later, Black backed up Belt's title winning performance with a school record leap on his fifth attempt to win the NCAA triple jump title and clinch the Top 10 team finish.
The success indoors continued outdoors as the Cards earned a school-record seventh-place team finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Sacramento, Calif., with three NCAA All-America performances and two NCAA runner-up finishes. Belt and Black earned second-place finishes in the long jump and triple jump events respectively, while senior Wesley Korir became the Cards' first ever distance All-American with an impressive third-place finish in the 5,000-meter run. With three more All-Americans outdoors, the Cards' finished the indoor and outdoor track seasons with a school record six All-America honorees, the most ever in one season for the program.
The successes at the national championships came just a few weeks after the best conference weekend in school history at the BIG EAST Outdoor Championships in Storrs, Conn., as the men won their first ever conference title, while the women earned runner-up honors for their best finish in school history. Led by Turland, who was named the Most Outstanding Men's Field Athlete of the Meet after winning a pair of event titles and scoring 31 points overall, the Cardinal men dominated the field of teams by winning seven event titles and earning 13 total medals. The outdoor title came less than three months after the team narrowly missed on the indoor title earning runner-up honors. The outdoor success also came for the Louisville women with four event champions and eight total medalists en route to their best ever conference finish, while also earning USTFCCCA All-Academic Team honors and ranking 17th in the nation with a 3.41 team GPA. Leading the way was Third Team Academic All-American Emily Turland, the Cards' fifth Academic All-American in program history.
The record breaking success in 2007 was put into motion by a highly impressive season in 2006 as the Cardinal men's and women's track and field teams each earned Top 40 finishes at the NCAA Championships in June, while the men's cross country team earned its first-ever NCAA Championships bid and a 15th-place finish overall. The long list of accomplishments for the track and field program in 2006 reached its highest point at the national championships in Sacramento as Belt earned fifth-place finishes and All-America honors in the long jump and high jump to score eight points for the Cardinal men and a 30th-place finish in the nation. Kelley Bowman took UofL even higher with a third-place finish in the women's high jump to score six points and a 37th-place finish for the Cardinal women.
At the time, the finishes at the 2006 NCAA Championships were the best in school history and the three All-America performers in 2006 matched the previous total for the UofL program demonstrating the immediate impact of Mann and his coaching staff in such a short period of time. Of course, that season was just the beginning of the success for the Cards.
In the fall of 2006, Mann's cross country Cardinals kept things moving as the 25th-ranked men's team closed the best season in school history at that point with a 15th-place finish at the national championships. The at-large bid to the national meet was earned after a number of strong performances during the season, including an impressive third-place showing at the NCAA Southeast Regional at E.P. "Tom" Sawyer Park in Louisville where the Cards' had five runners earn All-Region honors. Overall, Mann has led 30 squads (18 men, 12 women) to team bids to the NCAA Cross Country Championships, including a pair of national runner-up finishes by the NAU men in 1988 and 1995.
The men's cross country squad wasn't the only ones showing great improvement as the women's program earned its first ever individual bid to the national championships as freshman Tarah McKay advanced to Terre Haute, Ind., in her first collegiate season. UofL moved to the top half of the strong BIG EAST Conference and became a very competitive squad in the NCAA's Southeast Region.
A coaching legend at Northern Arizona since his arrival there in 1980, Mann guided the Lumberjacks to a combined 58 Big Sky Conference championships in cross country and track and field and 16 top ten NCAA finishes while producing 107 All-Americans, five Olympians and four individual national champions. He earned 57 league coach of the year awards and won 12 NCAA Regional championships in cross country.
"I think it's a great step for our track and field and cross country programs for both our men and women to be able to attract Ron to this university," said UofL Vice President and Director of Athletics Tom Jurich, who previously worked with Mann while serving first as an assistant athletic director and later as director at Northern Arizona from 1984-92. "He will bring this program instant credibility. Ron has a very decorated resume in which only a few could measure themselves against.
"It is incredibly important to me that we can attract a person of Ron's caliber," added Jurich. "We want the best coaches available. This demonstrates our commitment to excellence, confirms our commitment to track and field at UofL, and lays the foundation for us to be competitive as we move into the BIG EAST Conference. I had the opportunity to work with Ron before and while his record and accolades speak for themselves, he is a better person than a coach. I know our community will find that out very soon."
During his first two seasons with the Cardinals' men's cross country team, the program took several steps in reaching Mann's goal of being among the nation's elite programs.
In 2005, UofL's first as a member of the BIG EAST Conference, the Cards won two team titles, two individual titles, had two runners earn All-Conference honors and one All-Region performer. The Cardinals finished fourth at the BIG EAST Championships. UofL closed the season with a sixth-place finish at the NCAA Southeast Regional Championship laying the foundation for the program's breakthrough season in 2006.
In 2004, Mann led the UofL men's cross country program to four team titles, four individual titles and a third-place finish at the 2004 Conference USA Champioships, just nine points out of first. The Cardinal men also had three runners earn All-Conference honors.
Prior to the Cards' three All-America performers in 2006, Mann's most recent All-America selections came at the 2004 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships where distance runners Travis Laird, Jinny Hanifan and Ida Nilsson -- who won the NCAA title in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and set the collegiate record in that event in the NCAA West Regional Championship -- earned national honors for NAU. The Lumberjacks had 15 athletes qualify in 22 events (men and women) for the NCAA regionals with seven advancing to the NCAA national meet.
In conference competition in 2004, the NAU men's and women's outdoor teams combined for 43 Big Sky all-conference peformances, including the championship in 14 events, as the women's team claimed the league championship and men's team finished as runner-up. In the fall of 2003, Mann's NAU men's cross country team finished third in the nation while the women placed 15th as six athletes earned All-America honors. Both teams won Big Sky Conference titles.
Following his graduation from NAU in 1972, Mann began his coaching career as an assistant at Mesa (Ariz.) Community College and Phoenix (Ariz.) Sunnyslope High School, his prep alma mater. He returned to NAU in 1980 to lead the women's program and assumed the head coaching reins of both men's and women's programs in 1982. He is a three-time member of the NAU Athletics Hall of Fame as an individual in 1999 and previous as athlete and coach of two championship cross country teams.
Prior to coaching, Mann competed in cross country and track and field at NAU and was a member of the Lumberjacks' 1971 Big Sky champion cross country team.
Besides the success on the track and trail, Mann's programs at NAU were outstanding in the classroom as well. In the 1990's, 60 NAU cross country student-athletes were named Academic All-Big Sky. During the 2002 spring semester, the combined track team posted a 3.04 GPA, which was one of the best in the nation according to the United States Track Association. Individually, the team included 34 student-athletes with a 3.25 GPA or higher.
Mann has extensive international experience as well to go along with his success at the collegiate level. He served as head coach of the U.S. Junior National Team at the 1993 Pan American Games and helped coach the medal-winning West team at the 1991 Olympic Festival.
The UofL head coach continued his work with U.S. Track and Field as an assistant coach for the men's team at the 2005 World Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Helsinki Finland. He served as one of five assistants and was specifically involved with the jumping events for the U.S. team.
His success on and off the track has led to many other impressive accolades over the years for Mann, including induction into the Northern Arizona University Athletics Hall of Fame in 1999, induction into the Mt. SAC (Mt. San Antonio College) Relays Hall of Fame in 2001, and induction into the Arizona Track & Field Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2009. The Mt. SAC Hall of Fame was created in 1985 to to honor athletes, coaches and friends who have made significant contributions both to the Relays and the sport of track and field. Mann was one of two people to be inducted in 2001 with the other being women's track and field legend Jackie Joyner-Kersee.
Married to the former Charlene Russell who hails from Corydon, Ind., Mann has three grown sons: Steve, Ryun and Brandon.