Knoxville, TN.–(UTSports) Tennessee volunteer assistant pole vault coach Russ Johnson has been named the 2015 National Collegiate Coach Of The Year (large college division) by the USA Track and Field Pole Vault High Performance and Development Committee.
The award was presented during the Opening Ceremonies of the National Pole Vault Summit, held Jan. 15-16 in Reno, Nev., in front of 3,000 pole vaulters, pole vault coaches and fans. Johnson has been one of the most successful NCAA Division I Coaches in recent years, having mentored a number of great pole vaulters the past few years, including NCAA Division 1 All-American and Team USA Member, Jake Blankenship. Last season, Blankenship soared over the 19 foot barrier twice and placed third at the US National Championships and the Pan American Games. He also represented and competed for Team USA at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China.
“Russ was a unanimous decision among the selection committee,” said Brian Yokoyama, USA Track and Field Men’s and Women’s Pole Vault High Performance and Development Chair. “He has done an incredible job with his athletes and has kept the great Volunteer pole vaulting tradition alive through outstanding performances and strong character development of his vaulters.”
Johnson, a former elite vaulter himself, jumped 18-6.50 for the Vols and legendary UT pole vaulting coach, Jim Beemiller. He still remains as one of the greatest vaulters in the university’s illustrious pole vaulting history, along with 2000 Olympic Silver Medalist Lawrence Johnson, 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist and former training partner Tim Mack (18-4.50) and Blankenship.
In its 25th year the National Pole Vault Summit, presented by UCS/Spirit Vaulting Poles, is the largest gathering of pole vaulters, pole vault coaches and pole vault fans in the world. Over 3,000 people attend the annual event, which is held in Reno Nevada, concurrently at the John Azcuaga’s Nugget Hotel and Casino (Convention, Clinics, Lectures, Hall of Fame, Meetings) and the Reno Livestock Events Center.
The “Summit” is a grassroots developmental clinic established to promote and advance the pole vault through education and safety. It consists of lectures, “Learn by doing clinics,” meetings, coaching demonstrations, competitions (14 pole vaulting pits/runways) and roundtable discussions with the world’s best pole vaulters and pole vault coaches. The “Summit” also serves as the official meeting/gathering for our nation’s top men’s and women’s pole vaulters and USA Pole Vault National Staff.