Dec. 11, 2007
AUBURN, Ala. -
Auburn track and field assistant coach Jerry Clayton has been named the Coach of the Year by the members of the North America, Central America and Caribbean Track & Field Coaches Association (NACACTFCA). In addition to helping Auburn record three top-five team finishes at the NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Championships in 2007, Clayton coached two former Auburn athletes to medals at the Osaka World Championships.
Clayton, now in his 10th season at Auburn, coaches the Tigers' throws, high jump, pole vault, multi-events and women's triple jump. In 2007, his athletes won two national championships (Donald Thomas in the indoor high jump and Jacob Dunkleberger in the hammer throw), six SEC Championships (Cory Martin in the weight throw, hammer throw and outdoor shot put, Thomas in the indoor and outdoor high jump and Michelle Vaughn in the indoor triple jump) and earned nine All-American honors.
Following the outdoor season, he coached Thomas to the world championship in the high jump, and former Tiger Maurice Smith to a silver medal in the decathlon.
Thomas, who took the Newcomer of the Year award at last month's World Athletics Gala, took the athletics world by storm this year. Moving from junior college basketball to high jumping, the 23-year-old Bahamian in just his second season leapt to a personal best of 2.35m in Salamanca in July, and then replicated that mark in the World Championships Final in Japan in August to take the gold.
Second in the Pan Am Games in Rio de Janeiro (2.30m) in July, Thomas won the World Athletics Final in Stuttgart in September with a leap of 2.32m to reemphasize that his success in Osaka was anything but a one-off.
Smith, 27, had an exceptional Osaka too, setting a Jamaican national record of 8644 points to take the Decathlon silver medal with only a poor javelin throw opening the door on the second day for Czech Roman Sebrle to pounce on the title. Smith had earlier in the year finished eithth in Götzis (8241) and had won the Pan Am title in Rio de Janeiro (8278). He finished the season with a second-place finish in Talence (8298), and secured runner-up spot in the IAAF Combined Event Challenge.
During Clayton's eight years at Auburn, Tiger athletes in his events have won eight NCAA individual track and field National Championships, 31 individual SEC Championships and 53 qualifiers for the NCAA track and field Championships have won 37 All-American honors.
In a previous coaching assignment, Clayton had been at Southwest Texas State University, where Charles Austin, the 1996 Olympic High Jump champion and still the American record holder at 2.40m, had been his star pupil.
A NACACTFCA statement read, "Congratulations to Jerry Clayton, whose impact as a teacher and motivator is felt not only in the NCAA and the United States, but throughout the Caribbean, the entire NACAC region, and the world of athletics!"