Blackwell's duties include overseeing the cross country teams and coaching the distance runners and pole vaulters during the indoor and outdoor track and field seasons.
During Blackwell's Ole Miss tenure, he has coached a long line of successful athletes including Stacy Hudson, the first female All-American in the 400-meter hurdles, Teneeshia Jones, the first SEC champion in the 100-meter hurdles and Barnabas Kirui, a three-time SEC cross country champion and one-time NCAA steeplechase champion. Overall, Blackwell has coached 19 Rebel men and women to All-America honors since joining the Ole Miss coaching staff and many more to All-SEC honors and high rankings in the school record books.
The Ole Miss cross country program has seen some of its brightest days in the last few years. Under Blackwell's tutelage, Barnabas Kirui became the most decorated long distance runner in school history. Kirui was a three-time SEC Cross Country Champion and winner of what is often referred to as the triple crown of distance running (3,000 meter steeplechase, 5,000 meters, 10,000 meters) at the 2007 SEC outdoor championships. He also captured the 2007 NCAA title in the 3,000 meter steeplechase. He was a three-time SEC Cross Country Athlete of the Year, two-time SEC Outdoor Runner of the Year, two-time SEC Commissioner's Trophy recipient and two-time All-American. Barnabas' brother, Martin, was also a two-time All-SEC honoree in cross country (2010, 2011).
The Ole Miss women placed fifth at the 2011 SEC cross country meet for their highest ever finish, led by All-SEC Logan Waites and junior Katie Breathitt, who had the top two individual finishes in school history, as well.
Blackwell has also tutored 2010 SEC All-Freshman pole vaulter Neal Tisher, who has broken the indoor and outdoor school records for a female.
Prior to coming to Ole Miss, Blackwell enjoyed a stellar 16-year coaching career on the prep level, producing eight high school All-Americans and 15 state champions.
His teams at Greenville High School in the early 1980s still rank among the most dominant in the history of Mississippi high school track and field, highlighted by his 1982 team that scored 54 points under the old 6-4-2-1 scoring system. His undefeated 1982 Greenville team included three sub-1:51 800-meter runners (Tony Gines, Regal Perry and Othena Redfield), as well as Perry Cartlidge, who went on to become an All-SEC performer at Ole Miss.
While coaching at the high school level in Florida, Blackwell molded Ken Cheeseman, who still holds the state meet record in the mile and ranks second on Florida's all-time best list in the mile.
Blackwell began his coaching career as the head men's cross country and track coach at Moss Point (Miss.) High School in 1973-1974. He then left the coaching profession briefly to earn his master's degree in Education from Mississippi College in 1975.
Blackwell returned to the coaching ranks in 1977 as the head coach of the men's cross country and women's track teams at Biloxi (Miss.) High. Blackwell then moved to Greenville (Miss.) High as the head coach of the men's track team and assistant football coach in 1979. From 1982 until he came to Ole Miss in 1988, Blackwell coached at Lake Howell (Fla.) High.
As a Clinton High School athlete, Blackwell was one of Mississippi's best. Excelling in cross country, football, basketball and track, Blackwell went undefeated in the mile and set the state record his senior year.
A true believer in recruiting in-state athletes, Blackwell turned down a track scholarship to the University of Tennessee to attend Ole Miss. As a freshman, he was the fourth-place runner on the 1968 Ole Miss cross country team that was the SEC runner-up, and he also scored in the 880 yard run during the indoor season. As a transfer to Mississippi College, he became a Mississippi College Sports Hall of Fame Inductee in 1992 because of his contributions to the school in football and track. An All-Gulf South Conference selection and team captain, Blackwell once held all the school distance records.
Blackwell is married to the former Sarah E. Channell, an assistant professor and coordinator of elementary education in the School of Education at Ole Miss. They are the parents of Thomas, a former Ole Miss track athlete, and Genia, a former manager for the Ole Miss track and field team.
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