Courtesy: CMU Athletic Communications
Now in his fourth year as the director of Central Michigan’s track and field and cross country program, Willie Randolph aims to continue moving the Chippewas back to prominence at the conference, regional and national level.
Under Randolph's tutelage, the Chippewas have produced 18 individual MAC titles, 40 All-MAC performers, 22 NCAA outdoor preliminary qualifiers, five NCAA indoor provisional qualifiers, five NCAA Outdoor Championships qualifiers, three NCAA Indoor Championships qualifiers and four All-Americans. An impressive 21 school records have been broken in Randolph's first three years at the helm. In addition, Raeanne Lohner earned All-Region honors for cross country in 2010.
Randolph's teams enjoyed success during the 2011-12 cross country and track and field seasons, with NCAA National Championships qualifiers in all three seasons. Both the men and the women finished runners-up in the MAC Cross Country Championships, with Tecumseh Adams taking the MAC Championship and qualifying for the NCAA National Championships. The women earned three All-MAC honors, and the men had two All-MAC. The men finished seventh overall at the Great Lakes Regional meet, and the women finished eighth.
Randolph led an experience, veteran men's team and a young, developing women's team into the winter indoor track and field season and the spring outdoor season, with great success in each. The men's team set five new school records (3,00m run, 5,000m run, hammer throw, heptathlon, 4x400m relay), and Holly Anderson added one for the women in the 5,000m run. At the MAC Championships the men finished third with three individual MAC Champions and the women 10th. Senior thrower Kevin Mays qualified for the NCAA National Championships with his school-record weight throw mark of 71-11, where he finished with second-team All-America honors.
The records continued to fall in the spring season, with the men's hammer throw and women's javelin school records falling twice apiece. The men finished the MAC Championships third overall with three individual champions and the Outstanding Field Performer (Ryan McCullough), and the women improved to ninth. Eight Chippewas qualified for the NCAA Championships East Preliminaries in a school-record-tying nine events. McCullough and women's javelin thrower Milica Kulidzan advanced to the NCAA National Championships. McCullough earned second-team All-America honors, while Kulidzan was named honorable mention All-America.
Randolph's second year as director of track and field/cross country started strong in the fall as the women's cross country team finished second at the Mid-American Conference meet, an improvement of two places from the previous year. The men's team took eighth. Four individuals earned All-MAC honors. The cross country season concluded at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional Championships as the women's team took eighth of 33 teams and the men took 19th.
Success followed Randolph into the winter and spring months as track and field began. Throughout the indoor and outdoor seasons, four school records were broken and three individuals earned All-MAC honors. Eleven underclassmen contributed to the third-place finish at the MAC Outdoor Championships by scoring points, a testament to Randolph's recruiting. Four Chippewas qualified for regionals, including Alex Rose who also placed fifth in the discus at nationals, earning All-America honors. His effort also earned CMU a top-50 finish at nationals.
In his first year at CMU, Randolph saw four Maroon and Gold teams finish fourth or higher in the Mid-American Conference meets. The Chippewas saw immediate results in the fall as the men’s cross country team finished third while the women took fourth at the MAC Championships. The women capped their campaign with an impressive ninth-place finish at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional while the men finished 11th.
Randolph Returns to Alma Mater
“We are excited to bring Willie aboard to lead our men’s and women’s track and cross country programs in this new direction,” CMU Director of Athletics Dave Heeke said. “As a Chippewa letterwinner, Willie brings a passion and enthusiasm for Central Michigan that will play a key role in maintaining the championship level of performance we have achieved over the past decade. I also feel his experience will be an important component in building a successful combined program.”
Randolph comes to CMU from the University of Louisville. He worked directly with sprinters and hurdlers at Louisville and was part of a coaching staff that worked under the combined program model that is now employed at CMU.
“I feel blessed and honored to be able to return to my alma mater,” Randolph said. “Although I know there are challenges that lie ahead, I am confident that my staff and I will take this program to the next level of excellence.”
Wealth of Coaching Experience Brought Back to CMU
Randolph coached 10 All-Big East performers, six NCAA provisional qualifiers and eight NCAA Mideast Regional qualifiers while at Louisville, and the sprinters and hurdlers set 15 school records under his tutelage. Some of his most noteworthy performers included Big East indoor and outdoor 200m champion Elisabeth Slettum, two-time Big East champion Heather Trimiew and 100m school-record holders Saravia Richardson and Edmond Yeboah.
Off the track, Randolph worked closely with the school’s academic program and was instrumental in guiding the women’s track and field team to the all-academic team recognition it received from the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association in 2007, when the Cardinals’ 3.41 team grade-point average ranked 17th nationally.
The USTFCCCA named eight Cardinals to its all-academic team in 2009. In 2008, seven Louisville student-athletes were named to the all-academic team, and the Cardinals also swept the Big East Scholar-Athlete Sport Excellence awards for men’s and women’s track and field. The awards are given to one student-athlete in each conference sport based on academic credentials, athletic accolades or performances and volunteer service to the community.
Prior to his stop in Louisville, Randolph oversaw a combined program as the head men’s and women’s track and field coach and head cross country coach at the University of New Orleans. In three seasons at UNO, Randolph coached 10 NCAA regional qualifiers, 30 All-Sun Belt Conference performers, 10 Sun Belt Conference Track and Field champions, 15 Academic All-Sun Belt selections and an individual cross country Sun Belt champion. UNO broke 56 school records, including two Sun Belt Conference records, under his guidance.
Randolph served as an assistant coach for the cross country and men’s and women’s track and field teams at Vanderbilt University for two years before his stop in New Orleans. He was also the recruiting coordinator at Vanderbilt. Randolph worked directly with two-time All-America heptathlete Josie Hahn, and the hurdlers and middle distance runners he coached broke 12 school records in his two seasons.
Randolph’s collegiate coaching career began at Belmont University in 1999. He spent four seasons with the Bruins and coached one NCAA national qualifier, one Junior National Championships qualifier and three Atlantic Sun Conference champions. Randolph also mentored 14 student-athletes who earned academic all-conference honors.
During his time at Belmont, Randolph also founded and coached the Nashville Elite Track Club. He was named USA Track and Field Club Coach of the Year after guiding his squad to a 2001 USA Track and Field Club national championship. Randolph helped coach Jeremy Taylor to a top-10 world ranking in the 200m in 2001, and another of his club athletes, Xavier James, advanced to the semifinals in the 100m at the 2002 Commonwealth Games.
Randolph is a USATF Level I and II certified coach in jumps, sprints and hurdles. He also is a USATF certified meet official. Randolph also serves as a member on both the Division I Track and Field Committee and the USTFCCA Coaches Committee.
Randolph, a native of Saginaw, Mich. and graduate of Carrollton High School, earned a bachelor of applied arts degree in organizational and public communications from CMU in 1998. He was a two-year letterman in the Chippewas’ track and field program as a hurdler.