With over 30 years of NCAA Division I coaching experience, Jerry Clayton enters his 15th season at Auburn University. Clayton, one of the nation's top field event coaches, is responsible for the throws and multievents, in addition to his recruiting and administrative duties.
During the 2012 season, Clayton coached sophomore Stephen Saenz to an SEC outdoor title and runner-up finish at the NCAA Outdoor championships in the shot put. Additionally, Saenz went on to compete at the 2012 London Olympic Games for Mexico in the shot put. He was one of four Clayton coached athletes to qualify for the games, joining American discus thrower Aretha Thurmond, Bahamian high jumper Donald Thomas and Jamaican decathlete Maurice Smith.
Clayton coached Saenz to a pair of SEC freshman of the year awards in 2011. Saenz posted the second-best shot put mark in all of NCAA Division I a season ago and the third-best mark in Auburn history with a throw of 19.82 meters (65-0) at the 2011 NCAA East Region preliminary round. The freshman also won the 2011 SEC Outdoor shot put championship.
In total, two of Clayton's athletes qualified for the 2011 NCAA Outdoor Championships with Saenz placing fourth overall in the shot put while also qualifying in discus. Additionally, fellow freshman Marcus Popenfoose qualified for nationals in both the shot put and the discus.
With just one year under Clayton, Saenz competed in the shot put at the 2011 Pan-Am Games. Competing for Mexico, Saenz posted a throw of 19.54 meters on his first attempt of the competition and placed fourth - just .07 hundredths of a meter away from a medal.
As recently as 2008, Clayton coached six athletes that advanced to the NCAA Outdoor Championships, including Cory Martin, who won the shot put and the hammer throw while earning USTFCCCA Athlete of the Year honors. Jacob Dunkleberger also finished second in the hammer and second in the weight throw at the NCAA indoor meet. For his efforts Clayton was named the 2008 Men's Assistant Coach of the Year by the USTFCCCA.
In 2007, his athletes won two national championships (Donald Thomas in the indoor high jump and Dunkleberger in the hammer throw), five SEC Championships (Cory Martin in the weight throw, hammer throw and outdoor shot put, Thomas in the indoor and outdoor high jump) and earned seven All-American honors.
Thomas also went on to claim the gold medal at the 2007 Osaka World Championships, while another of Clayton's pupils, former Tiger Maurice Smith, took the silver in the decathlon. Following the season, Clayton was named the Coach of the Year by the members of the North America, Central America and Caribbean Track & Field Coaches Association (NACACTFCA).
During Clayton's 11 previous years at Auburn, Tiger athletes in his events have won 10 NCAA individual track and field National Championships, 34 individual SEC Championships and 63 qualifiers for the NCAA Track and Field Championships have won 40 All-American honors.
Prior to joining the Auburn staff, Clayton spent three years at the University of Florida as the Gators' field event coach. During this period, Florida was much improved in the field events as Clayton produced 13 qualifiers for the NCAA Track and Field Championships, winning eight All-American honors, three individual SEC Champions and 10 All-SEC honors in three years.
In addition, Clayton assisted Florida to one top-10 NCAA Track and Field Championship finish and four top-three SEC Championship finishes.
Before joining the Florida staff in 1995, Clayton spent five seasons as the head men and women's coach at Southwest Texas State.
During his tenure at Southwest Texas, Clayton led the Bobcats' programs to a combined four Southland Conference Championships, including the first men's outdoor SLC title in school history in 1993. On the national level, Clayton guided the program to unprecedented success, as the men's squad earned a school-best seventh place finish at the 1990 NCAA Outdoor Championships and the women's squad earned 13th place at the 1994 NCAA Outdoor Championships. In recognition of his efforts, Clayton earned the 1991 Region VI Coach of the Year honors in addition to the Southland Conference Coach of the Year accolades he garnered on four occasions.
Prior to arriving in San Marcos, Clayton spent nine seasons as an assistant men's track and field coach at his alma mater, the University of Illinois.
During his coaching term in Champaign-Urbana, Clayton helped lead the Fighting Illini to seven Big-10 track and field titles and three top-10 national finishes, including a second place showing at the 1988 NCAA Indoor Championships.
In over 25 years of Division I coaching, Clayton's tutelage has produced 14 NCAA individual champions, 35 international team competitors and 19 U.S. Olympic Trials qualifiers. He has also mentored 72 NCAA All-American honorees, 115 individual conference champions (35 SEC individual champions) and 139 NCAA championship qualifiers during his coaching tenure. Clayton coached athletes have won NCAA titles in seven of nine field events, while boasting All-America honors in every field event.
Clayton, a native of Rushville, Ill., graduated from the University of Illinois in 1980 with a bachelor of science degree in physical education.
During his collegiate career, Clayton was a two-time NCAA qualifier in the shot put.
Clayton and his wife, Becky, a former three-time All-American long jumper at the University of Illinois and 2003 Auburn graduate in nursing, have two children, Zach and Nick.