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Aaron Fox is in his seventh season as UTSA's director of track & field and cross country. An integral part of Roadrunners track & field for nearly 15 years, Fox has been in charge of the men since 2003 and he added the women to his list of responsibilities following the merging of the two programs in July 2008. His career in the Alamo City began as an assistant for both the men and women from 2000-02.
The inaugural campaign in Conference USA got off to a great start in 2013-14, as the women's cross country team won UTSA's first-ever C-USA Championship in November. Led by Nina Herrera's fourth-place finish, the Roadrunners captured the program's first league crown since 1996 and sixth overall in school history (1991-93, '95-96 Southland Conference). Emily Perez went on to post the best individual finish by a Roadrunner in 17 years and her performance helped lead UTSA to fifth place at the 2013 NCAA South Central Regional.
The success carried over to the track & field seasons, as the men captured the C-USA Outdoor Championship and the women finished second at the league's indoor meet. All told, UTSA athletes earned three All-America certifcates (Andrew Akens/Richard Garrett Jr./Keyunta Hayes), won eight conference individual/relay crowns (five outdoor/three indoor) and set a total of 10 program records (five indoor/five outdoor). Richard Garrett Jr. also was tabbed the circuit's outdoor Field Athlete of the Year and Field Performer of the Meet, while Fox was named the league's Coach of the Year.
The accolades were not limited to the track, as seven Roadrunners earned C-USA Academic Medals (3.75 GPA) and 35 student-athletes were named to the Commissioner's Honor Roll. Samantha Fish earned C-USA All-Academic laurels in both cross country and track & field, while Nate Brunette and Lindsey Pew were track & field honorees.
Fox led UTSA's successful transition into the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) in 2013 following unprecedented success in the program's former home, the Southland Conference.
The Roadrunners men captured the WAC Indoor Championship in February behind a school-record-tying six individual/relay titles. The victory was UTSA's eighth consecutive indoor league title and Fox was named WAC Coach of the Year (his eighth straight indoor coaching award). Garrett Jr. was tabbed the conference's Outstanding Field Performer and he went on to match the program's highest national indoor finish with his fourth-place performance in the shot put. Outdoors, Joshua Smith advanced to the NCAA Championships semifinals in the 400-meter hurdles and his 13th-place performance earned him second-team All-America accolades.
Meanwhile, the women just missed out on their first indoor league crown in 19 years when they finished second to I-35 rival Texas State by just six points. That came on the heels of a runner-up effort at the WAC Cross Country Championships, which featured the closest race in meet history (Idaho won by only three points).
All told, UTSA won a total of 12 conference gold medals (eight indoor/four outdoor) in their first and only season in the circuit and Jonas Gutierrez also earned WAC Men's Outdoor Freshman of the Year honors.
Fox led the men to a league-record seven consecutive Southland Indoor Championships and he was named the league's Coach of the Year from 2006-12 (only coach in conference history to earn seven straight awards). The Roadrunners also won three outdoor titles in their final five years in the circuit (2008, '10 & '12) and he picked up Coach of the Year accolades following each of those indoor/outdoor sweeps. Fox’s other honors include the 2008 and '11 U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) South Central Region Indoor Coach of the Year and he also represented Team USA as an assistant coach at the 2010 Thorpe Cup (annual United States/Germany decathlon competition).
A former All-America decathlete at the University of Texas, he already has tutored several high-profile athletes at UTSA, including five-time All-American Garrett Jr., four-time All-American Teddy Williams, three-time All-American Justin Youngblood, two-time All-Americans Keith Benford, Devon Bond, Larry Brooks and Keyunta Hayes, All-Americans Andrew Akens, Brandon Buteaux, Smith, Tyler Williamson and Rhonda Ray, four-time Southland Champion Will Vese and 2008 Southland Cross Country, six-time indoor and three-time outdoor league champion Dana Mecke.
Under his watchful eye, Roadrunners student-athletes have broken or tied eight conference records and established a total of 74 school marks. They also have won 125 league titles and earned 25 All-America certificates.
There has been just as much success in the classroom, as multi-event performer Bryan Wolfe swept Southland Student-Athlete of the Year honors in 2005 and ’06 and he also was a third-team ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-American as a senior. Meanwhile, Mecke was a four-time Southland Student-Athlete of the Year selection (2008 cross country/’09-10 indoor/’10 outdoor) in addition to earning third-team Academic All-America accolades in 2010.
During the past seven years, more than 100 individuals have qualified for NCAA Championship Preliminary Round competition and 24 have advanced to the national meets.
In a tight team race that came down to the final event, the Flagstaff, Ariz., native led UTSA to its first-ever Southland Indoor Championship in 2006 behind individual championships from Buteaux (heptathlon) and Mthobisi Baloyi (800m). His Roadrunners successfully defended that title a year later on the strength of gold medals by Brooks (800m), Gaston Griffin (400m) and Vese (60m hurdles) and UTSA completed the three-peat in 2008 when a league-record six athletes — Steven Brown (200m), Luke Johnson (shot put), P.J. McGowen (high jump), Vese (60m hurdles), Williams (60m) and Tommy Wolfe (heptathlon) — came back to the Alamo City with individual crowns.
The Roadrunners picked up their fourth consecutive title in February 2009 when Vese (60m hurdles), Johnathan Whittaker (high jump), Williams (60m/200m) and Tommy Wolfe (heptathlon) finished first in their respective events. Williams collected Southland Athlete of the Year and Outstanding Track Performer honors after becoming the first athlete in five years to sweep the short sprints at the conference meet. He went on to post the third-fastest preliminary heat time, a league record 6.59, at the NCAA Indoor Championships and picked up his second All-America certificate with his eighth-place showing. He went on to post the world’s fastest 100m time in any condition, 9.90, at the UTEP Invitational in April, which stood for two-and-a-half months. Meanwhile, Vese also picked up his third title in a row in the 60m hurdles and Tommy Wolfe won his third straight conference multi-events championship.
Crown number five came the following season when the Birds received winning performances from Williams (60m/200m), Keith Benford (high jump), Bond (triple jump) and the distance medley relay team of Brandon Chiuminetta, Canel Cole, Bryan Ugochukwu and Albert Cardenas. Williams was tabbed the league’s Athlete of the Year and Outstanding Track Performer for the second season in a row, while Benford and Bond were named Freshman and Newcomer of the Year, respectively.
UTSA matched Lamar's 26-year-old Southland record in 2011 with its sixth straight title and that came on the strength of the Roadrunners equaling their conference record with a half dozen gold medals — Benford (high jump), Bond (triple jump), Cardenas (mile), Garrett Jr. (shot put), Taylor Reed (pole vault) and Williamson (long jump). That helped the Birds score 153 points, which was the second-highest total in the meet's 32-year history. Garrett Jr. was named the Outstanding Field Performer and he went on to earn second-team All-America honors at the NCAA Indoor.
The unprecedented seventh championship in a row came a year later with another half dozen individual crowns, as Benford (high jump), Garrett Jr. (shot put), Hayes (60m hurdles), Chrisshun Jamerson (800m), Steinert (weight throw) and Williamson (long jump) all were victorious. Benford went on to earn second-team All-America honors with his 14th-place finish at the national indoor championships.
UTSA ended a streak of back-to-back second-place finishes at the conference’s outdoor meet in 2008, giving the program its first-ever indoor/outdoor sweep in school history. First-place efforts by Williams in the 100m and 200m, Vese in the 110m hurdles, Tommy Wolfe in the decathlon and the 400-meter relay team vaulted the Roadrunners to their second Southland Outdoor Championship in school annals. Following that meet, the team entered the USTFCCA Top 25 Poll, which was the first national ranking by any program in UTSA Athletics history.
Williams earned All-America honors in the 100m following his seventh-place performance at the 2008 NCAA Outdoor Championships and he went on to advance to the quarterfinals at the United States Olympic Trials. The fifth All-American in school history had a year to remember, as he set a total of four school records — 60m (6.66), 100m (10.16), 200m (20.60) and 400m relay (39.84) in addition to winning the NCAA Midwest Regional 100m title, the Southland Outdoor 100m, 200m and 400m relay crowns and the Southland Indoor 60m gold medal. Williams, who led 1-2-3 finishes in both short sprints at the conference’s outdoor meet, was named the league’s Outstanding Outdoor Track Performer. He also set a new conference record in the 60m dash in January and competed at the NCAA Indoor Championships two months later. The Tyler native capped his season by running on the 400m relay team that ran the world’s fastest time (38.39) at the NACAC Under-23 Championships. Meanwhile, Brown collected All-Midwest Region honors in the 100m, was named the Southland Indoor Athlete of the Year and was the high-point scorer at both league meets and Tommy Wolfe became the first athlete to sweep both multi-event competitions in league history.
The program’s second sweep in three years came in 2010 when Williams (100m), Bond (high & triple jumps) and Williamson (long jump) won individual titles at the Southland Outdoor. The Birds scored a then-school-record 148 points en route to their seventh title under Fox’s tutelage and Williams recorded the nation’s top 100m time (10.03w) in his gold-medal performance. Bond went on to post the third-best national finish in program history with his fifth-place effort in the triple jump, while Williams became UTSA’s first-ever four-time All-American with his ninth-place showing in the 100m. He went on to sign a free agent contract with the Dallas Cowboys in July 2010, becoming the first UTSA athlete to play in the National Football League.
Three Roadrunners — Benford (high jump), Bond (triple jump) and Hayes (400m hurdles) — won conference crowns at the 2011 Southland Outdoor, as UTSA finished second to Stephen F. Austin by 16 points. Hayes was tabbed the conference's Freshman of the Year, a first in program history, after accounting for 16.75 points, which was the highest total among league frosh. Ten athletes qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Preliminary Rounds and a school-record three — Benford (high jump/honorable mention), Bond (triple jump/second team) and Garrett Jr. (shot put/second team) — went on to earn All-America honors.
UTSA left the league in style in May 2012 with its third indoor/outdoor sweep in the last five years. Hayes swept both hurdles events on the final day of the meet, while Garrett Jr. won the shot put for the program's first-ever outdoor throws gold medal in its 21-year history in the conference. Those two and Williamson went on to earn All-America accolades at the national meet. Hayes (400m hurdles) posted the best finish of the three, fourth, and that was the second-highest outdoor finish in school annals. He went on to advance to the semifinals of the U.S. Olympic Trials.
On the women’s side, Fox immediately turned the Roadrunners into Southland contenders in just four seasons.
UTSA nearly won its first Southland Outdoor Championship since 1997 in its last campaign in the league and it ended up posting its best finish, second, in 15 years. The Roadrunners won a total six individual/relay titles — Katie Bragg (hammer), Jhorden Hunter (100m), Eboni Johnson (triple jump), Zaquita McClanahan (shot put), Mecke (1,500m) and the 400m relay quartet of Shahira Ehiemua, Chiugo Okonkwo, Krystal Wynn and Hunter. Meanwhile, Ehiemua was tabbed Southland Freshman of the Year. All that came on the heels of a fourth-place effort at the conference's indoor meet where Chenale Smith (high jump) and the distance medley relay of Isabel Balbontin, Grace Williamson, Nina Herrera and Alyssa Diaz captured gold medals.
The 2011 campaign saw Aimee Jonas win the program's seventh Southland pentathlon title, which helped lead UTSA to a third-place finish. Meanwhile, Bragg picked up the school's first-ever hammer crown during the outdoor season.
Mecke helped lead the program to a five-place improvement at the 2010 Southland Outdoor and she was named the league’s Athlete of the Year after winning the 800m and 1,500m titles. Her middle distance sweep was the first in the conference in seven years. Jessica Jones was the Birds’ other champion, as she won her third consecutive 100m hurdles crown, joining former UTSA All-American Ryanne Dupree as the circuit’s only three-time winners in the event.
UTSA posted its highest indoor finish, third, in a half dozen years in February 2010 on the strength of a school-record-tying six individual/relay crowns. Jones successfully defended her 60m hurdles title, Mecke swept the 800m and mile for the second straight year, Pernilla Savestrand and Kayla Pratt were victorious in the 3k and 5k, respectively, and the DMR collected gold for the second year in a row. Meanwhile, Savestrand was tabbed the circuit’s Newcomer of the Year after earning the same award during the cross country campaign.
In his first season, Mecke became the fourth female in school history and first in a dozen years to win the Southland Cross Country Championship. She won her first seven races of the season before finishing the campaign with a 23rd-place showing at the NCAA South Central Regional, which was the highest finish by a Roadrunner in at least 12 years. The league’s Student-Athlete of the Year also was a five-time Southland Athlete of the Week honoree. Mecke went on to win Southland Indoor Championships in the 800 meters and mile in addition to running the anchor leg on UTSA’s first-place distance medley relay squad and she was tabbed the meet’s Outstanding Track Performer and circuit’s Student-Athlete of Year. Meanwhile, Jones swept the circuit’s hurdles crowns, including successfully defending her 100m hurdles title, to become the first female in school history to do so and she went on to compete at the NCAA Midwest Regional. Pratt later raced to All-America honors in the 5k at the USA Junior Championships.
Brooks, the school record-holder in the indoor and outdoor 800 meters, completed a rare double for the Roadrunners in 2007, becoming just the second male athlete in school history to earn All-America accolades at both the NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Championships in the same season, matching Youngblood’s feat from 2004 (heptathlon/decathlon). Additionally, Buteaux advanced to the 2005 NCAA Indoor Championships and became the program’s third All-American with a seventh-place finish, breaking Youngblood’s school record with 5,519 points.
In 2004, Youngblood won the Southland Indoor heptathlon title en route to being named the league’s Indoor Men’s Athlete of the Year and earning All-America honors with a seventh-place finish at the NCAA Championships. He then picked up his third All-America certificate with a seventh-place showing in the decathlon at the national outdoor meet in Austin.
In his first season as interim head coach in 2003, Fox led the Roadrunners to a pair of individual league titles and a fifth-place finish at the Southland Indoor. Additionally, Carl Johnson was named the meet's Outstanding Track Performer.
The 2002 season saw Fox tutor his student-athletes to several more honors.
Both Youngblood and Ray won their respective pentathlons at the Southland Indoor Championships, while Youngblood also was the high jump champion, high-point scorer and Outstanding Field Performer. Ray went on to repeat as the heptathlon (outdoor) champion and the pair both finished seventh at the NCAA Championships to earn All-America accolades.
The UTSA men won the 2001 Southland Outdoor title and Fox also guided Ray and Youngblood to multi-event league titles during the season. Ray claimed pentathlon (indoor) and heptathlon (outdoor) crowns, while Youngblood was the indoor pentathlon champion.
Fox, a team captain at Texas in 1998-99, was an All-American and the first-ever Big 12 Champion in the heptathlon and decathlon. He also holds the U.S. Junior first-day total and long jump records and held the Big 12 Outdoor meet record in the decathlon from 1997-2009. In 1995, he broke Daley Thompson’s junior 100-meter dash mark in the decathlon and was the No. 1-ranked U.S. Junior and third-ranked junior decathlete in the world. Fox also still owns the Arizona Class 4A state record in the long jump (24-7) and his 10-year-old triple jump mark of 49-1 was broken in 2007.
A 1999 graduate with a bachelor's degree in kinesiology, Fox served as an assistant with the Texas track & field camp from 1997-98 and with the Longhorns program until 1999.
Fox is married to the former Sarah Vestal and the couple has two children, June and Jacob.
The Fox File