Men's Outdoor T&F

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USW promotes Becker to head coach of track & field and cross country
Track & Field - Thu, Jul. 6, 2017
HOBBS, N.M. – The University of the Southwest Department of Athletics has announced the selection of two-time NAIA national champion, six-time All-American and nine-time Academic All-American Jessica Becker as the new Head Men's and Women's Track & Field and Cross Country Coach for the Mustangs.
After a decorated intercollegiate athletic playing career and having gained extensive coaching experience with noted accomplishments at both the NCAA and NAIA levels -- including the last two years as the lead recruiter and throws coach at USW -- Jessica Becker will assume her new duties as Head Coach for the Mustangs effective immediately.
Becker replaces Jeff Kavalunas who recently accepted a similar position at Eastern New Mexico University.
"I am pleased to announce the appointment of Jessica Becker as the new track and cross country coach at USW," stated Vice President for Institutional Development and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics William Weidner. "Jessica Becker possesses all of the qualities that one would look for in a successful head coach at the intercollegiate level. Her track record of accomplishment within the intercollegiate athletic coaching profession is well documented as she has mentored numerous All-Americans, national qualifiers as well as a national champion."
"As a national champion and All-American, Jessica understands what it takes to successfully compete at the highest level," continued Weidner. "As an Academic All-American who graduated Cum Lade, Jessica also understands the importance of excelling in the academic arena as well. During her stay at USW, she has earned the respect and trust of the student-athletes that she serves. Her proven ability to motivate student-athletes to perform at their highest level in both the academic and athletic arenas will complement her well-rounded coaching background and will, undoubtedly, continue to benefit each of the student-athletes that comprise our Mustang programs."
A graduate of Bethany College (Kan.), Becker became one of the most decorated student-athletes in the history of the institution. Becker claimed the 2008 NAIA Indoor National Championship in the Shot Put and was the 2009 NAIA Outdoor National Champion in the Shot Put as well. In addition to her two national championships, Becker was a 14-time NAIA National Championship qualifier in which she competed in the Shot Put, Indoor Weight, Discus, and Hammer Throw events while also claiming two national runner-up finishes in the 2009 Indoor Shot Put and the 2008 Outdoor Shot Put.
Becker's performances in the Shot Put and Discus events dominated at the conference level as she earned six KCAC Championships representing Bethany in those events. Her commitment to excellence in both the academic and athletic arenas was rewarded with national recognition as a nine-time NAIA Academic All-American. In addition, Becker had the distinction of being named as a four-time recipient of Bethany's Female Athlete of the Year.
Becker is excited to take the reins of the USW programs.
"I am honored to be named the head coach at University of the Southwest. I want to thank Mr. Weidner for this opportunity and confidence in my vision moving forward," commented Becker. "The past two years have been extremely valuable in laying the foundation for Mustang track & field and cross country. We will continue to build off our past successes and push forward towards our new program goals of competing for and winning championships."
This past season was a banner year for USW track and field. Becker coached Selena Orlenas, who qualified for the 2017 NAIA Outdoor Track & Field Championships and competed in the javelin.
The Mustangs also competed well at the RRAC track & field championships, with the women finishing third overall. USW swept the throwing events and took gold in the javelin, discus and shot put. USW student-athlete Jamiah Evans was the RRAC high-point field athlete with 21 points as she became a three-time RRAC champion. Overall, Becker coached 14 RRAC all-conference student-athletes in the field events this past year.
Over the past two years, the USW track & field and cross country programs produced 26 RRAC All-Conference honorees and 12 national qualifiers while setting 11 new school records. The women's team produced its highest cumulative GPA in program history with a 3.84 GPA during the 2015-16 academic year in which both the men's and women's outdoor track & field programs led the NAIA in earning the highest cumulative grade point average in the nation for their respective sports.
In her first season with USW, the track & field/cross country programs produced four national qualifiers - including All-American hammer thrower Frankie Martinez who took eighth at the NAIA Championships with a heave of 54.72 meters (he was also named RRAC Field Event Athlete of the Year). Becker coached five throwers who earned All-RRAC honors as the programs featured 10 All-RRAC student-athletes, while also claiming the RRAC freshman cross country runner of the year and the 2016 USW Male and Female Student-Athletes of the Year.
Prior to USW, Becker spent time at Capitan Municipal Schools, her alma mater, where she served as the athletic director and head coach of the men's and women's track & field teams. As athletic director, Becker oversaw a 14-sport program and had a significant role in the design and building of a 6,000-square foot weight room facility. Her tenure also saw the construction of new throws facilities for the track and field program and the implementation of a new physical education and health curriculum. As the head track and field coach, her program reached new heights with a school-record number of student-athletes qualifying for state championship competition. Among the many student-athlete highlights in state championship competition under her watch were three state champions in the pole vault.
Prior to Capitan, Becker held the position of Assistant Professor of Health, Physical Education and Athletic Training at Bethany. In her role, Becker served as a department head of the HPEAT department and sat as a member of the Teacher Education department. While serving as a professor at Bethany, Becker also held the post of assistant track and field coach at Salina Central High School in Salina, Kan., and was responsible for coaching the shot put, discus and javelin throwing events. In addition, she created and directed the strength and conditioning program for the entire athletic department.
Becker was also an assistant track and field and cross country coach at Eastern New Mexico University, and was responsible for the throws, jumps, hurdles and multi-event student-athletes. During her tenure, ENMU claimed a Lone Star Conference Cross Country Championship and a NCAA South Central Region Cross Country championship while qualifying for a NCAA Division II national championship berth. Her student-athletes featured seven national qualifiers in the sport of track and field. Becker also held the position of recruiting coordinator for men's and women's track & field as well as strength and conditioning coordinator for the track & field program during her stay.
From 2009-11, Becker was an assistant track and field and cross country coach at McPherson College (Kan.). Her duties included serving as the recruiting coordinator and strength and conditioning coordinator for the track and field and cross country programs. As an assistant coach, Becker coached the throws, jumps, hurdles, and multi-events. During her tenure, Becker coached 14 NAIA qualifiers, including the 2010 national champion and All-American in the high jump as well as a 2010 All-American in the pole vault. In addition, she coached two All-Americans in the high jump in 2011.
Becker began her intercollegiate coaching career in 2008 at her alma mater, where she served as an assistant track and field coach. While specializing in the throwing events there, Becker coached five NAIA qualifiers and two NAIA All-Americans.
Becker graduated Cum Lade from Bethany in 2009 with a bachelor's degree in PK-12 Health & Physical Education and a bachelor's degree in Physical Health & Wellness with a concentration in coaching. She earned her master's degree in Physical Education, Recreation, and Health from Emporia State University (Kan.) in 2012. Becker is currently pursuing a doctorate in sports management & leadership through the United States Sports Academy.