Sept. 10, 2015
OXFORD, Miss. – New Ole Miss track & field head coach Connie Price-Smith has added four highly successful assistant coaches and a coordinator of operations to fill out her first staff.
All four new assistant coaches worked under Price-Smith at Southern Illinois. They include Andre Scott (jumps), Anthony Acklin (sprints, hurdles), Brian Porter (pole vault, javelin, men’s multi-events) and John Smith (throws). She also welcomed SIU alum and former All-American Sasha Leeth as her coordinator of operations.
Among the four men, they have combined to produce four Olympians, 10 NCAA Champions, 82 All-Americans, 125 conference champions, 43 junior college national champions and 97 junior college All-Americans.
Cross country and track distance coach Ryan Vanhoy remained on the Ole Miss staff and enters his third season with the Rebels this fall. His men’s cross country team is projected to win the 2015 Southeastern Conference and has been ranked as high as fifth nationally this preseason.
“I am excited about the group of assistant coaches that I have,” Price-Smith said. “I know them very well and am confident in their ability to help me in creating a successful environment where student-athletes excel. As a group they bring experience, knowledge and passion with the ability to teach the skills to the talented group of individuals we have on the track & field and cross country teams. I am excited for the future of our program.”
A former All-American and SEC champion jumper at Auburn, Scott spent the previous 11 seasons at Southern Illinois before moving to Oxford. In his time with the Salukis, Scott's jumpers won numerous All-America honors, broke every women's SIU all-time record, set a handful of national standards around the world and helped the Salukis win the 2009 Indoor and Outdoor Missouri Valley Conference Championships as well as the women's 2005 MVC indoor title and the 2015 men's title.
Some of Scott's most prestigious pupils during his tenure at Southern included Bahamian long jump record holder and 2012 Olympian Bianca Stuart, two-time All-American Malaikah Love, Bahamian high jump record holder Kenya Culmer and two-time All-American high jumper Kyle Landon.
Scott has also coached at Pittsburgh and Auburn. While in school on the Plains, he was a seven-time All-American and three-time SEC champion specializing in the triple jump.
Acklin arrives in Oxford after a one-year stint as the sprints and hurdles assistant coach at Southern Illinois, where he led the Salukis to much-improved marks from the previous year.
Before that, Acklin had two highly successful stints at the NJCAA level, coaching at Iowa Central Community College (2009-14) and Rend Lake College (2006-09). In his eight years with those JUCOs, Acklin produced 97 All-Americans and 43 NJCAA National Champions.
Acklin coached two eventual Olympians in Reyare Thomas (Trinidad and Tobago) and most famously, Olympic silver medalist Ryan Bailey. Acklin coached Bailey at Rend Lake, where Bailey won two individual NJCAA titles (indoor 55 meter dash, outdoor 100 meter dash). In the 2012 London Games, Bailey was the anchor on the American 4x100-meter relay with Tyson Gay, Justin Gatlin and Trell Kimmons that won silver and broke the all-time U.S. record in 37.04.
As an athlete himself, Acklin was a three-time MVC champion as a 110-meter hurdler and a member of the 4x100-meter relay at Southern Illinois.
A former four-time national qualifier in the pole vault at Texas Tech, Porter comes to Oxford after three seasons as an assistant under Price-Smith at Southern Illinois. He will coach pole vault, javelin and men’s multi-events just like he did in his previous post.
In his three seasons in Carbondale, Porter guided his athletes to three MVC titles, two SIU records, six All-MVC vaulters, four regional qualifiers and one national qualifier. His female vaulters produced six of the top seven clearances on both the indoor and outdoor lists in 2015 alone, headlined by All-American Lindsey Murray who finished ninth at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
Porter coached for two years at his alma mater, Texas Tech, following the completion of his college career.
Ole Miss welcomed renowned throws coach John Smith to the Rebel program last week. A five-time USTFCCCA Midwest Region Assistant Coach or Coach of the Year (2005, 2010, 2011, 2015, 2015) and the 2015 USTFCCCA National Women's Assistant Coach of the Year, Smith turned Southern Illinois into a throwers’ powerhouse over his 11-year tenure with the Salukis.
An All-American shot putter himself while a student-athlete at SIU, his coaching resulted in eight NCAA champions, 52 All-Americans, 66 MVC champions, one NCAA Indoor National Athlete of the Year and one world record in the women's weight throw - the latter two courtesy of two-time NCAA champion Brittany Riley. In 2015 alone, Saluki throwers accumulated three NCAA titles – Raven Saunders in the indoor and outdoor shot put and DeAnna Price in the hammer throw.
Before joining the SIU coaching staff in 2004, Smith mentored 20 Big Ten champions, 19 All-Americans, 15 national qualifiers and two NCAA champions in five years as an assistant at Ohio State.
His most famous pupil, though, is his wife - Ole Miss head coach Connie Price-Smith. Smith convinced her to join the SIU track team after her four-year basketball career and then coached her to a professional career that included 24 US. titles and four appearances at the Olympics. The two have been married since 1990.
Leeth, a former All-American thrower at Southern Illinois, takes over as the coordinator of operations for Ole Miss Track & Field. She oversees a variety of areas within the Rebel program, including managers, equipment, travel, scheduling, recruit planning, etc.
Leeth was a graduate assistant and the director of operations at her alma mater from 2010-12 under current Price-Smith. Since then, she’s worked in public administration for a criminal justice department and a probation program.
For more information on Ole Miss Track & Field and Cross Country, follow the Rebels on Twitter at @OleMissTrack, as well as Facebook and Instagram.