September 12, 2007

Dolan Adds Avery Blackwell to Coaching Staff

Sept. 12, 2007

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Coming off of their most successful overall seasons in school history and hoping to continue at a high level, the UC Santa Barbara men's and women's cross country programs have added Avery Blackwell as an assistant coach, head coach Pete Dolan has announced.

"Avery is a great addition to the Gaucho coaching staff," Dolan said. "It is fairly unique to have a coach with an engineering background. His perspective will add to our reputation as a very academic team. I was also impressed with his improvement to national class over the course of his collegiate running career and his commitment to his post-collegiate racing with the Nike Farm Team."

Blackwell began his coaching career as a volunteer at Santa Clara University working with both the men's and women's track teams. The distance athletes that he worked with set several of the school records during the 2006 spring season. In 2004-05, Blackwell spent a year and a half as the equipment manager for the cross country and track and field team at Stanford. In 2004, he also co-founded the ALTITUDE Project, a Christian running camp for collegiate athletes, which he has directed the past four summers in Mammoth Lakes, Calif.

Blackwell's experience however extends beyond the coach's whistle and onto the track itself. He attended Cal Poly where he was the Big West 10k Champion in 1999 and received all-conference awards eight times in track and field and cross country. After graduating with a degree in Civil Engineering in 2002, Blackwell went on to train with the Nike Farm Team under the guidance of Frank Gagliano. During his three and a half years on the Nike Farm Team, Blackwell competed at the cross country club national meet twice, finished 23rd at the USA 12k Cross Country Championships in 2004 and as the top American at the prestigious Bay to Breakers in 2003.

Blackwell and his wife Katie are moving to Santa Barbara after spending a year in Canterbury, England where Katie studied for a Master's degree in Literature and he worked as a civil engineer. Drawn back to the sport by his love of running, coach Blackwell is excited to be a part of the success that UCSB cross country has established over the past several years.

"I hope that my knowledge and experience will help play a part in challenging the cross country and track and field programs to strive for their full potential," he said.

The Gauchos travel to San Diego to take part in the Aztec Invitational on Saturday.

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