CINCINNATI – University of Cincinnati director of athletics Whit Babcock announced today that men’s track and field assistant coach Kris Mack will succeed Bill Schnier as head coach.
“We are very pleased to name Kris Mack as our next head coach and to ensure the continuity of our program and our recruiting efforts,” said Babcock. “He is very well respected within our department as well as nationally among his peers. I’m confident that Coach Mack will continue many of the initiatives learned under legendary coach Bill Schnier while also putting his own stamp on the program moving forward. Kris is a great coach in his own right and he will represent the Bearcats in a first-class manner. We are extremely excited to make this announcement today. Congratulations to Kris and his family.”
Earlier this year, Schnier announced his retirement after 33 seasons heading the UC program. Mack will assume the head-coach-in-waiting title and will step into the lead role following Schnier’s retirement at the end of the 2012-13 seasons.
“I thank God for this opportunity to lead the UC men’s program,” said Mack. “I feel truly blessed and thankful to Whit Babcock, the executive staff, and Bill Schnier for entrusting the continued mentorship of our great student-athletes to me. Whit has a great vision for the athletic department and I look forward to leading the men’s teams with that vision in mind. I thank Bill for allowing me to come to Cincinnati three years ago to be his assistant. He has been an amazing mentor and I hope I can touch as many lives as he has. We have a great men’s track program and I am honored to serve in this new role.”
Mack is in his fourth year at UC where he has coached jumps for both the men’s and women’s teams. UC jumpers excelled last season, scoring points for the Bearcats in post-season meets and recording some of the best marks in school history. UC captured the BIG EAST Conference women’s pole vault titles in both the indoor and outdoor championships, albeit with two different student-athletes – Sarah Rasnick won the indoor title with a school-record mark of 13-feet-10-inches and Michelle Eby likewise won the outdoor with a school-record mark of 13-feet-8 ½-inches. Eby would go on to earn All-American honors by reaching the NCAA finals. Shanay Portis posted the sixth-best long jump in UC history (19-feet-4-inches). Josh Dangel finished fourth in the pole vault at the BIG EAST men’s outdoor championship meet with a personal-record 17-feet-3 ½-inches effort, third-best in UC history. In the same meet,Tariq Sanders was fifth in the men’s triple jump with a personal-record mark of 48-feet, fifth-best in the UC record book.
Mack also had notable success in his first two seasons at UC. Mackenzie Fields broke the women’s indoor record in the pole vault, jumping 13-feet-9 ¾-inches, and tied the outdoor mark that Eby later broke. Fields, Eby and Rasnick would take three of the top five spots in the pole vault at the 2011 BIG EAST indoor championship and Dangel and Tommy Marks would take third and fourth, respectively, in the pole vault at the 2011 BIG EAST men’s outdoor championship. High jumper Brandon Fitch was third at the 2010 BIG EAST men’s outdoor championship and posted UC all-time second-best mark at 7-feet-1-inch.
“I applaud Whit Babcock and (senior associate director of athletics and track and field administrative oversight) Maggie McKinley for recognizing the abilities of Kris Mack and having the confidence in Kris to head the program for years to come,” said Schnier. “I was hoping one of our current assistants would succeed me and I likewise recognize the enormous abilities of Kris Mack. He has been the men’s assistant for three years and fully understands the mission of our university and the nuances of our team. Kris has already taken on every job required of a head coach at one point or another in his career, so this move will be well within his experience. He also has a knowledge of all facets of track and field and an equal appreciation of the cultures of these many events. Kris Mack will be a very worthy successor and we will not miss a beat.”
Prior to coming to UC, Mack spent six seasons at Stanford University where he coached All-Americans Whitney Liehr (2009 indoor pentathlon and outdoor triple jump), Graeme Hoste (2007 and 2008 indoor and outdoor pole vault), Josh Hustedt (two-times indoor heptathlon) and Dani Maier (outdoor javelin) as well as school record-holder in the pole vault, Katerina Stefanidi.
Mack was previously an assistant coach at Bloomington (Ind.) North High School, where in 2003 he coached four student-athletes to the Indiana state championship meet and helped the team win the sectional and regional titles. He was a graduate assistant coach at Indiana University from 2000 to 2002, where one of his standouts was All-American pole vaulter Dino Efthimiou.
Mack spent four years, 1996 to 2000, as an assistant coach for Sky Jumpers Vertical Sports Club, where he assisted in the development of elite high school pole vaulters like Chelsea Johnson (2009 world championships silver medalist), Shayla Balentine (former high school U.S. record holder), Monica Pacas (nationally ranked top 10 in U.S) and Kasey Lundgren (2002 California high school state meet runner-up).
Mack is a magna cum laude graduate of Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, where he earned bachelor’s degrees in kinesiology and biochemistry in 2000. He was a member of the track and field team, recording a personal best of 5.28 meters in the pole vault and qualifying for the 1998 and 1999 NCAA outdoor championship meets. In 2002, Mack earned his master’s degree in biomechanics from Indiana University, where he studied under Jesus Dapena, the sports biomechanics high jump specialist for USA Track and Field.
Mack and his wife Paula (Serrano), the 1999 NCAA women’s outdoor champion in the pole vault, have three sons: Travis, Caleb, and Dustin.
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