49ers will hold first of two home meets March 1-2 at Cerritos College
Seventeen 49ers compete in one-day meet
Sheffield will work with the sprinters, hurdlers and relays
Wales-Dinan comes to Long Beach State from Duke University
49ers bring in 29 student-athletes for upcoming season
Andy Sythe's tenure as head coach at Long Beach State has been characterized by individual and team success as well as scholar-athlete achievement in both track & field and cross country.
A three-time Big West Men's Track & Field Coach of the Year (2006, 2008 and 2011), Sythe is now in his 24th season at the helm of the cross country and indoor/outdoor track & field teams at LBSU. He has developed a combined program that is among the best in the Big West Conference as well as at the regional and national level.
Sythe has had 40 All-Americans and 11 conference athletes of the year under his tutelage. He has also had three Big West Freshman of the Year award winners.
Last year, the 49er track & field team posted 28 All-Big West performances, with five individual conference titles. Long Beach State also had a Big West-leading 17 entries in the NCAA West Preliminary Round. Two athletes, Katrina Graves-Johnson (high jump) and Ben Woodruff (javelin) qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Championships, where they both earned honorable mention All-America distinction. Graves-Johnson and Matt Maldonado (mile) were also second-team All-Americans during the indoor season. In addition, Woodruff was tabbed the Big West Men's Field Athlete of the Year, while Jahmani Lockett was named the Co-Big West Men's Freshman of the Year.
In 2011, the men won their third Big West title in six years. Seventeen 49ers produced 23 All-Big West performances, including seven individual championships. Three athletes also advanced to the NCAA Outdoor Championships where they earned All-America honors. Randi Hicks was a first-team performer in the women's javelin, while Colin Dunbar garnered second-team honors in the hammer and honorable mention in the discus. Nicholas Armstrong was also an honorable mention All-American in the decathlon.
In addition to earning All-America status, Dunbar was tabbed the 2011 USTFCCCA West Region Men's Field Athlete of the Year and the 2011 Big West Men's Field Athlete of the Year. He personally accounted for 28 points at the conference championships as he became just the second individual in league history to score in all four throwing events. Dunbar won the hammer and discus, finished third in the shot put and seventh in the javelin.
In 2010, Kenneth Medwood (400 Hurdles) and Randi Hicks (Javelin) won the individual conference title in their respective events. Seventeen 49ers also qualified for the NCAA West Preliminary meet, with three athletes moving on to the national championships. Hicks highlighed the group, earning All-America honors in the javelin.
Medwood went on to compete in the 2012 London Olympic Games, representing his native country of Belize. He was selected by his nation as the flag bearer at the opening ceremonies and would advance to the semifinals of the 400m hurdles. Sythe also had four of his current and former athletes compete at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials.
The men's squad won their second Big West title in 2008, compiling 185 total team points. The 49ers had 21 individuals qualify for the NCAA Regionals, with six advancing to the national championship meet where Sythe saw two of his athletes, Brent Gray and Chris Richardson, earn All-America honors for the second time in their careers.
The men's team also finished ahead of the pack at the Big West Championships in 2006, while placing 16th at the NCAA Championships, their highest team finish since 1998 when the Sythe-led team took 17th.
Since the inception of NCAA track and field regional qualifying in 2003, Long Beach State has sent 186 qualifiers to the postseason meet. In 2005 and 2006, Sythe sent more qualifiers to the NCAA Regionals than any other men's program in the Big West Conference.
While under Sythe's direction, the LBSU track and field program has been consistently ranked among the top 20 percent of over 320 NCAA Division I schools.
Sythe has also directed the cross country squad to a number of top performances. In 2011, Rosa Del Toro won the individual 6K title at the conference meet and was the first 49er in school history to be tabbed the Big West Women's Cross Country Athlete of the Year. As a team, the women finished second and the men placed third.
In 2005 and 2006, the cross country team had the best combined finish over any two-year run in school-history.
In 1990, Sythe's second year working with LBSU cross country, the women took second in the conference, the best finish in 49er history, until 2006 and 2011, when the team equaled that mark.
Since Sythe's arrival, the 49ers have rewritten the record books. Currently, 81 indoor and 41 outdoor school records have been established by Sythe-coached athletes in track & field. In 2011-12, the 49ers established 13 school records in a single season.
Strong academic performance has also been a common theme in Sythe's career as a coach and athlete. Sythe was an outstanding student-athlete at San Diego State where he graduated in 1987 with honors and a bachelor's degree in physical education.
As a coach, Sythe's student-athletes have achieved perfect 4.0 semester grade-point averages 139 times. Through his guidance, 335 athletes have also been named to the academic all-conference team.
On the national level, Sythe's athletes have produced 33 All-Academic teams in cross country and track and field. Individually, Sythe has helped guide his student-athletes to attain the highest level of academic achievement with seven CoSIDA Academic All-Americans, two Phi Beta Kappas and one Rhodes Scholar.
Sythe was hired in the fall of 1989 as the head coach at Long Beach State. At age 23, he was the youngest NCAA Division I coach in the United States.
Sythe has had the very best mentors in the sport throughout his high school and college career. As an athlete under Dixon Farmer at San Diego State (1984-87), Sythe captained his team that ranked among the top-10 in the nation.
As an assistant for Ralph Lindeman at LBSU (1988-89), Sythe furthered his skills under the tutelage of another of the nation's most respected coaches. In 1989, his mentor Lindeman was tabbed the Big West Coach of the Year. Both Farmer and Lindeman since have served on Olympic staffs for the United States.
Track & field and cross country are a passion for Sythe, and his dedication to the sport is reflected by his involvement beyond the scope of the University. Sythe has served on national committees with USA Track & Field and the U.S. Track Coaches Association. He has served on the Executive Committee for Men's Development with USATF, been co-meet director for the 1999 USATF Senior Cross Country National Championships, and has completed over 10 years of service as Men's Track & Field Chair and board member for the Southern California Association of USA Track & Field. Sythe also completed four years of service with the Executive Committee and Rules Committee for the USTFCCCA.
Sythe has coached at clinics throughout the U.S. and worked with the Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles in its coaching instructional program. Recognized for his success and his dedicated work on the national level, Sythe was selected by his peers to be the head coach for the men's West team at the 1995 United States Olympic Festival, held in Colorado Springs, Colo. Prior to that, he was an assistant coach for the champion West team at the 1993 Olympic Festival in San Antonio, Texas.
A native of Los Gatos, Calif., Sythe and his wife, Maribeth, reside in Long Beach with their two daughters, Sierra and Callie June.