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Edrick Floreal leaving Kentucky to be head track and field coach at Texas

Edrick Floreal, Sydney McLaughlin (UK Athletics Photo)
The University of Kentucky track and field team prepares for the 2018 SEC Indoor Track and Field Championships at the Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium in College Station, TX.
Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics

AUSTIN, Texas — After building highly-successful programs as the head coach at Kentucky and Stanford the past 12 years, Edrick Floréal (ED-rick floor-ee-AL) has been named Head Track and Field Coach at The University of Texas, Vice President and Athletics Director Chris Del Conte announced on Wednesday.

“Edrick is a terrific coach who has a tremendous reputation in the track and field community,” Del Conte said. “He’s a coach I’ve followed for a long time and is so well respected. Everyone I talked to had great things to say, and I really enjoyed visiting with him. I am excited about what he’ll bring to our program and how he’ll build on the proud tradition of Texas Track and Field.”

“I would be remiss if I didn’t start off by thanking Mitch Barnhart and everyone at Kentucky,” said Floréal. “I’m so grateful for all the support they gave me in building a world-class program there.

“It’s because of them that I have an opportunity like this, and I am so excited to be the head coach at Texas. It’s the elite of the elite in track and field programs, and the potential to achieve greatness is fantastic. You have the premier track and field state in the country to recruit in, a rich and proud history, and are the flagship institution of the state. It’s truly an amazing opportunity. My job is to provide great coaching, great development and to help kids believe they can reach personal heights they never dreamed of, so we can build on all of the great success that Texas Track and Field has had for many years.”

A former National Champion, Olympian and veteran of more than 25 years of coaching, Floréal takes over at Texas after spending the past six years transforming the University of Kentucky into one of the premier track and field programs in the country.

When he took over in Lexington, UK was coming off an eighth-place finish by the men and 12th by the women at the SEC Outdoor Championships. The Wildcats also had never earned a team trophy (top four) at the Women’s NCAA Outdoor Championships. Floréal changed that and proceeded to lead the women’s program to three top-four finishes in the last four years, including a runner-up showing in 2015. He also led the women to a school-best third-place finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships in 2018 and guided the women to eight total top-five finishes at the NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Championships. On the men’s side, UK was 16th at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in 2018 and among the top 22 in the nation six times in indoor and outdoor under Floréal.

“People who know me know I’m a tireless worker, I’m a workaholic and love being at the track,” Floréal said. “I am driven to succeed and come to work every day with the burning desire to make everybody on the team better. I am going to bring that same focus, passion and drive to Texas. I am so excited to get there, meet the team and become a part of the Longhorn community.”

This past season, Kentucky garnered 15 first-team All-America honors during the outdoor season when the women finished fourth and the men were 16th at the NCAA Championships. Four Wildcats won national titles at that meet, including Jasmine Camacho-Quinn (100m hurdles) and freshman Sydney McLaughlin (400m hurdles) becoming the first women’s duo in NCAA history to sweep the hurdles events. NCAA Indoor heptathlon champion Tim Duckworth earned UK’s first-ever NCAA decathlon title, and Olivia Gruver defended her NCAA Outdoor pole vault championship.

Overall during his tenure, Wildcat athletes won 12 event NCAA Championships, earned 142 All-America honors, 37 Individual SEC Championships and five Academic All-America honors.

“Edrick’s resume says it all with the successful teams he’s built at Kentucky and Stanford, and the athletes he’s coached on the national and international level,” Del Conte said. “But what’s most impressive is the way he’s taken programs that had not had a lot of success and changed that in short order. He is a proven program builder and developer of young people. And, as a former track legend from the days of the Southwest Conference, he knows this part of the country and the passion that our great state has for the sport.”

Floréal’s reputation as a head coach has been building for a number of years. He was named head coach of the United States Men’s National Team for the 2015 IAAF World Championships, guiding Team USA to the most medals of any nation at that meet. In addition, he helped Americans capture six medals (two gold) at the 2012 London Olympics as Team USA’s jumps and multi-events coach. On the international scene, he had previously served as assistant coach for Team USA at the 2002 IAAF World Junior Track and Field Championships in Kingston, Jamaica, which featured the world record-setting men’s 4x100m relay team, the first team to run under 39 seconds. 

Floréal also event-coached two World Champions in 2017, as Omar McLeod won the 110m hurdles and Kori Carter took the 400m hurdles gold at the IAAF World Championships in London. Keni Harrison then captured gold at the 2018 World Indoor Championships in the 60m hurdles in Birmingham, England. Under his guidance, Harrison broke the 28-year-old world record in the 100m hurdles (12.20) at the 2016 London Anniversary Games. Harrison is the fastest combination hurdler in history with PRs of 12.20 in the 100m hurdles and 54.09 in the 400m hurdles. Harrison claimed the U.S. titles in the 60m hurdles and 100m hurdles in 2017 and went on to place fourth in the 100m hurdles world final.

In addition, Floréal coached Camacho-Quinn to the SEC 100m hurdles title in 12.69, meaning he coached the two fastest women in the history of that event at the SEC Championships, as Harrison ran 12.50 in 2015. In 2016, Camacho-Quinn became the first freshman to win the NCAA 100m hurdles title, giving Kentucky the NCAA Champion in that event for the second straight year, as Harrison won the previous year.

Known also as a horizontal jumps expert, Floréal helped Sha’Keela Saunders to UK’s first women’s NCAA Indoor Long Jump title in 2017, four NCAA silver medals in the long jump, plus an NCAA bronze medal. Along with those, she brought home the 2015 and 2017 SEC Indoor Long Jump Championship, and medals for Team USA at the 2015 Pan American Games and NACAC Championships. Saunders placed fourth at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials as a collegiate junior, coming inches short of a spot on the U.S. team headed to Rio. She broke through in the summer of 2017, making her first U.S. team for a major global championship – the World Championships in London – by virtue of her bronze at the U.S. Trials in Sacramento.

Floréal, who in 2012 had become the first new track and field head coach in 28 years for the Wildcats, had previously been an assistant at Kentucky during the 1996-98 seasons. He moved to the Stanford track and field program in 1998 and spent 14 seasons there with the last six (Fall 2005-Spring 2012) as head coach.

In those six years as head coach in Palo Alto, Calif., he led the Cardinal men and women to a combined seven top-10 NCAA finishes during the outdoor season and another seven indoors. In addition to the team accomplishments on the track, Floréal oversaw a cross country program that was among the nation’s elite. The Cardinal women won three NCAA titles under his watch, while the men placed in the top five in three of his last four seasons.

A four-time Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Coach of the Year (Stanford competed in the MPSF during the indoor season), the 2009 West Regional Indoor Coach of the Year and the 2006 West Regional Outdoor Coach of the Year, Floréal developed the Stanford sprinters, hurdlers and jumpers into Pac-12 and NCAA Championship contenders. Under his watch, 91 Stanford student-athletes earned 197 All-America honors.

The Cardinal program had tremendous success in Floréal’s final two years there. In 2012, the Stanford women tallied a sixth-place finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, including one individual National Championship in the pole vault, and a 13th-place finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships. The men’s squad finished 11th in the NCAA Indoors and 18th at the NCAA Outdoors, including an individual championship in the 400-meter hurdles. In 2011, Floréal led Stanford to a pair of national top-15 finishes. The Cardinal men placed eighth at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, while the women were 14th. The season was highlighted by 10 athletes earning 15 All-America honors.

2009 also was a standout year as Floréal led the Stanford women to an MPSF title and the men to a seventh-place finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Twelve athletes earned 17 All-America honors during the season. Floréal was named MPSF and West Regional Coach of the Year on the women’s side as four individuals won MPSF titles. During the outdoor season, Flore´al led six male athletes to All-America honors, the most during his tenure overseeing both programs. At the Pac-10 Championships, the Stanford women finished second, while the men finished third. It was the 10th consecutive top-three finish for the women and the highest finish for the Stanford men under Floréal.

Stanford track and field was well represented in the classroom as well, with several of his student-athletes receiving Academic All-America and Pac-12 All-Academic team honors. In 2011, the 12 men named All-Academic by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association were tops in the nation. In 2008, the Stanford men were named the Academic Team of the Year for the indoor season.

Prior to his arrival at Stanford, Floréal produced 13 All-Americans in three seasons as an assistant coach at Kentucky. In total, the UK men’s team picked up 16 All-America sprints/hurdles/horizontal jumps honors, and the Wildcat women tallied 11 All-America accolades during Floréal’s tenure. He also enjoyed successful assistant coaching stints at Georgia Tech and Nebraska, where he began his coaching career.

Floréal graduated from Arkansas in 1990. During his career as a student-athlete for the Razorbacks, he was the NCAA’s premier triple jumper. A five-time national champion, sweeping the indoor and outdoor triple jump titles in 1989 and 1990, he won his first NCAA title in 1988. Floréal was a nine-time All-American at Arkansas and was part of four NCAA team championships. He also won six Southwest Conference titles with five victories in the triple jump and an indoor long jump crown in 1990.

Floréal helped the Razorbacks to seven SWC team titles. He remains the No. 3 performer in the triple jump, indoor and outdoor, in school history and was inducted into the University of Arkansas Sports Hall of Honor in 2012 and the Southwest Conference Hall of Fame in 2017. He competed for Canada at the 1988 and 1992 Summer Olympic Games in the triple jump and was the 1990 Commonwealth Games Bronze Medalist in the triple jump.

Floréal is married to LaVonna Martin-Floréal, also a two-time track and field Olympian (1988 & 1992). A University of Tennessee standout who won three NCAA titles (55-meter hurdles indoors, 1987 & 1988 / 100-meter hurdles, 1987), Martin-Floréal was the 1992 Olympic silver medalist in the 100m hurdles for Team USA. The couple has two children, Edrick Jr. and Mikaielle.

1 comment

  1. Larry V, you gave us a heads up on this. I guess UK couldn’t entice him with more money? Hate to see a good coach go, but hey it is a free country. Don’t need him if he don’t want to be here. Next man up .

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