Sykes announced as WKU cross country head coach

Published 4:19 pm Thursday, August 15, 2019


News release

BOWLING GREEN — WKU director of cross country and track & field Brent Chumbley has announced the hiring of Tim Sykes as the head cross country coach and assistant track & field coach on The Hill.

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 “Coach Sykes is the right fit for our program and I am looking forward to working with him to elevate the cross country and track & field programs here on The Hill,” Chumbley shared. “He brings a wealth of experience and has seen student-athletes succeed everywhere he has coached. I am excited for our runners to get back on campus and get to work with coach Sykes.”

 “It is an honor to join coach Chumbley as well as the Hilltopper family and I cannot thank coach or the administration enough for putting their trust in me to lead the cross country and distance groups on The Hill,” Sykes said. “WKU’s cross country and track & field programs have a rich history that I am invested in building upon. I am excited to get into training with our student-athletes and look forward to seeing what we can accomplish.”

 Sykes arrives in Bowling Green after serving as Oregon’s assistant coach for the distance and cross country programs during the past year. Prior to his move to Oregon, Sykes served as both an assistant track & field and cross country coach at Liberty in 2017 before being named the head cross country coach in January 2018.

 In his season at Oregon, Sykes helped the Ducks to a highly successful year. Beginning during the cross country campaign, he saw Oregon win the Women’s Pac-12 Cross Country Championships and NCAA West Regional before taking third at the NCAA Championships in Madison, Wis. The men’s squad closed the conference championships in fourth place before turning in a top-15 team finish at the NCAA Championships. The women added another third-place finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships. Oregon wrapped up the season with a men’s Outdoor Pac-12 championship while the women brought home a runner-up finish. At the NCAA Outdoor Championships, Oregon’s women’s squad claimed fifth place while the men earned 12th as a team.

 Between cross country, indoor track and outdoor track, Sykes assisted Oregon’s men’s and women’s distance squads to 20 collective First and Second Team All-America awards during his year in Eugene.

During his time at Liberty, Sykes helped newcomer Noel Palmer improve from high school personal bests of 10:47 in the 3,200 and 17:45 in the 5K to 16:28 in the 5K and 34:41 in the 10K as a freshman in 2018. She placed 18th overall (third among freshmen) in her NCAA East Preliminary Round 10K debut and earned a fourth-place finish in the 5K at USATF Junior Outdoor Championships. He also saw Colin Schultz finish off his collegiate career with personal bests of 1:48.96 in the 800 and a school-record 3:43.58 in the 1,500. Additionally, Sykes guided Azaria Kirwa to a lifetime-best 13:55.74 indoor 5K at the 2018 Iowa State Classic. Only NCAA national champions Sam Chelanga and Josh McDougal ever ran faster as Flames.

During his first year at Liberty, Sykes oversaw Kirwa’s breakthrough sophomore track & field campaign. Kirwa ran the 5K at the 2017 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships and also clocked impressive times of 14:00.29 (5K) and 29:05.57 (10K) during the season. Kirwa carried that momentum into the 2017 cross country season, where he placed fourth at pre-Nationals with an 8K time of 23:11.4 and 25th at the NCAA meet for All-America honors. Additionally, the 2017 LU men’s cross country team raced to a seventh-place Southeast Regional team finish – the Flames’ best regional finish since 2012.

Sykes, who began his coaching career as a graduate assistant for the Ohio track & field teams in 2004, returned to the Bobcats as a volunteer assistant for cross country and track & field in 2013. In July 2015, Sykes was promoted to assistant women’s cross country and track & field coach, taking over all coaching duties for the Bobcats’ women’s distance runners.

In between his stints at Ohio, Sykes spent eight years coaching in Virginia, culminating with the 2012 season, when he served as VMI’s head cross country and assistant track & field coach.

Prior to that, Sykes was a volunteer assistant at VMI (2004-07), a volunteer assistant at Virginia Tech (2007-10) and an assistant cross country and track & field coach at VMI (2010-12).

A native of Amanda, Ohio, Sykes competed in cross country and track & field at Rio Grande from 1999-2003. He completed his final year of eligibility at Ohio (2003-04).

Sykes, a USA Track & Field Level I coach, has also been active in education. He was the coordinator of UVA-Wise’s health and physical education program during the 2012-13 academic year. Sykes has also taught a variety of college courses at Ohio, VMI and UVA-Wise.

Sykes has earned three degrees, beginning with a bachelor’s in multi-age physical education licensure from Rio Grande in 2003. The following year, he completed a master’s in recreation, sport sciences & pedagogy: coaching education at Ohio.

In 2011, Sykes graduated from Virginia Tech with a Ph.D. in education, curriculum and instruction: health promotion & sports performance. His dissertation was entitled, “The Effect of Training Protocols on Satisfaction and Performance of Collegiate Distance Runners.”

 Sykes is the first hire coach Chumbley has announced since he took over as WKU’s director of cross country and track & field on Aug. 1. Sykes, Chumbley and the Hilltopper squads will open the 2019 cross country season on Friday, Aug. 30, at the Belmont Opener in Nashville, Tenn.