Courtesy of LA Tech Athletic Communications
Louisiana Tech VP and Director of Athletics Eric Wood announced today that the University has hired Olympian and four-time NCAA Division I national champion Brian Johnson as its head track and field coach.
The hiring is pending the approval of the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System.
Completing his fifth year as the Director of Track and Field and Cross Country at New Orleans, Johnson’s squad this year boasted the 47th ranked men’s track and field program, a 5th ranked men’s 100m event group and sprinter Ismael Kone who recorded back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships.
“We always talk about competitive excellence as part of our mantra within our athletics department, and we have hired a competitor in Brian Johnson,” said Tech VP and Director of Athletics Eric Wood. “Brian has excelled at the highest level of his profession both as an Olympian and a national champion. He has competed against the best the world has to offer.
“Brian has proven in his coaching career that he can develop student-athletes into national championship caliber competitors. We are excited about Brian taking the reigns of our track and field program and leading it back to a championship level.”
Johnson comes to Tech from the University of New Orleans where he has led the Privateers track & field and cross country programs since the fall of 2018. He takes over the reins after 40-year veteran Gary Stanley retired at the conclusion of the 2021-22 season.
“This is an amazing moment for me in a lot of ways, and I am honored to become the new head track and field coach for Louisiana Tech,” said Johnson. “First, I’d like to thank Dr. Eric Wood and Tim Padgett for giving me this opportunity. I look forward to working with the entire athletic department and the track and field student athletes.”
During his collegiate career at Southern in Baton Rouge, Johnson – who was a member of the 2008 United States Olympic Track & Field team that competed in Beijing, China – became only the third Jaguars athlete to win an indoor NCAA Division I national title when he captured the long jump crown in 2003 with a best leap of 8.28m (27-2).
Johnson finished fourth at the U.S. Indoor Championships in 2004 and then captured gold with a first-place finish the following year at the 2005 Indoor Championships. He also won U.S. titles with his victories at both the 2006 Indoor and Outdoor Championships with jumps of 7.95m (26-1) and 8.10m (26-7), respectively.
In 2008, he finished second at the Olympic Trails in Eugene, Oregon, which qualified him for the national team. He went on to finish 22nd overall at the 2008 Olympics.
Also during that time, Johnson posted a personal best of 8.33m with his second-place performance at the Fort-de-France international meet and he also won a silver medal at the IAAF World Athletics Final.
During his coaching career in the Big Easy, Johnson guided both the men’s and women’s cross country and men’s and women’s track & field programs to record-setting performances at the Southland Conference Championships. All six teams have set a team point total record since joining the conference at their respective championship meet.
“I would like to thank Tim Duncan and Dr. John Nicklow for entrusting me with the University of New Orleans Track and Field program,” said Johnson. “I am forever grateful for the opportunity and the experience. I would like to thank all the athletes I had the opportunity to coach. We had some great moments in these last four years, and I wish them continued success.”
Most recently, Kone competed in the 2022 NCAA Outdoor National Championships in the 100m and the 200m. Kone, who was the Southland Conference Track and Field Athlete of the Year, was the first standout in UNO track and field history to advance to two straight NCAA Outdoor Championships and the only Privateer to ever compete in two events in nationals.
Johnson has also helped in the mentoring of Arina Kleshchukova, who was the first athlete in school history to advance to the NCAA Division I Cross Country National Championships in 2019.
Kleshchukova won four of her first five races in 2019, including winning the Southland title to advance to the South Central Regionals. There she placed tenth overall to earn All-Region honors and a chance to advance to NCAAs. Kleshchukova earned numerous awards including Southland Women’s Runner of the Year and Louisiana Runner of the Year by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association.
In total, the Privateers claimed three Southland titles, nine silver and four bronze medals across the indoor and outdoor conference championships in 2021. New Orleans also sent a school-record four student-athletes to the NCAA DI East Preliminary Round.
Both his men’s and women’s cross country and women’s cross country program have also been honored numerous times as U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) All-Academic teams.
The Iowa, Louisiana, native has been in the coaching ranks since 2003 and stopped competition following the 2010 season. He was ranked as high as No. 2 in the United States in the long jump by Track & Field News following his 2008 campaign and ended as the No. 3 ranked athlete in the event in 2010. Johnson was ranked in the top-10 in the world in his event every year between 2005-10.
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