Friday, August 6, 2010

Former Husky assistant coach Kelly Strong reemerges at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo...

SAN LUIS OBISPO, California--First-year Cal Poly track and field director Mark Conover completed his staff for the 2010-11 season as the Cal Poly Athletics Department announced that former University of Washington assistant coach Kelly Strong (left/photo courtesy Cal Poly SLO) has joined the Mustang program in a similar capacity.

Strong arrives on the central coast following a nine-year stint with the University of Washington, where she helped form one of the nation’s elite distance programs, accentuated by the women winning the 2008 NCAA Team Championship in Cross Country. Over the past two years, due to Strong’s involvement in recruiting and coaching, UW garnered two Pac-10 titles, two podium finishes, four Olympic Trials qualifiers, and 27 All-American honors in cross country and on the track.

Much like Conover, a 1988 US Olympian in the marathon, the former Arizona State graduate has a history of elite success both as a runner and as a coach. After helping build the distance program as an athlete in Tempe, the Oregon native went back to the Northwest to help guide the young women in Seattle. In her nine years as a coach, the Washington teams qualified for NCAA’s all but twice, and the last three finishes (8th, 1st, 3rd) were highest in school history.

Her reputation as one of the nation’s best recruiters, as well as her ability to connect with student-athletes played a large part in that success, and it is the reason Conover is excited having her take part in the growing distance tradition in San Luis Obispo.

"Kelly is a great addition to the staff, said Conover. “Her experiences as a top-level athlete and coach are assets that will be valuable to the program. Her ability in recruiting, aiding in daily operations of a program, along with her skill in helping the student-athlete find success have all been proven. She fits all the criteria I had for this position, so ultimately we can continue to provide a great overall experience for our student-athletes both academically and athletically at Cal Poly."

The newest Mustang is a 2002 graduate of Arizona State. During her collegiate career, she earned five All-America honors and three Pac-10 titles, and she set five school records. Following that, she ran for Asics, and represented them in three Olympic Trials. In 2008, she also set the American record in the 2,000-meter steeplechase (6:25.98), and ranked seventh in U.S. history in the 3,000-meter steeple (9:47.68).

She was recognized in 2002 with ASU's Pac-10 Medal, and was ASU's Athlete of the Year in 2001-02.

“I am overjoyed with the opportunity. In a place like Cal Poly, there are so many things that are distinct. San Luis Obispo is such a beautiful town that is fifteen minutes from the Pacific Ocean, hosts an elite institute of higher learning, and has a history of great distance running. Mark’s coaching ability and success speaks for itself, and I am enthusiastic about how our styles will mesh in helping the Mustangs continue to rise to the top. I think we have a lot of good things to look forward to, starting with Cross Country 2010.”

After departing the Huskies following the 2009 cross country season, Strong coached the distance runners at Tahoma High School.

Strong joins former Seattle Pacific assistant coach Jack Hoyt at Cal Poly SLO.

NOTE: The sports information office at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo contributed to this report.


Kevin said...

What do you think the impact Strong's departure will have on UW's recruiting? It appears that she had a major hand in their latest recruiting class included Footlocker champ Megan Goethals and a number of standouts from California. It'll be interesting to see how Cal Poly will benefit from her presence.

Kevin Liao
Spiked Up, Psyched Up | A Track & Field Blog

Mercanator said...

WOW! A comment left on the blog that wasn't an autobot spam message to a Chinese web site--what a concept!!!

Kevin, that's a great question!

I have the highest of regards for Kelly and the job she did at the UW. She was certainly the glue of the Husky women's distance group!

Her ability to connect with those women was certainly a key to their success. And she was indeed a key cog in the Huskies' ability to land what may be the best incoming recruiting class, with the likes of Goethals, Katie Flood, etc.

I believe she'll do well at CP/SLO. I don't know what kind of recruiting budget the school has, but with a guy like Mark Conover running the program, they may be able to attract some kids that either get passed over or have no desire to run at a big BCS Conference school...

Kevin said...

Paul, good analysis.

Cal Poly has traditionally gotten second-tier (but still VERY fast) California kids, maybe in the 4:15/9:20 range who didn't get full offers from Pac-10 schools. Sure will be interesting if they'll be able to snag blue-chippers from the BCS teams.

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