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 five-time Big West Men's Track & Field Coach of the Year (2006, 2008, 2011, 2013, and 2014), Sythe is now in his 26th season at the helm of the cross country and indoor/outdoor track & field teams at the Beach. 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 guided his student-athletes to 44 All-America performances and 11 conference athlete of the year awards. He has also had four Big West Freshman of the Year award winners.
In 2014, the 49er men's team won their second consecutive Big West title and eighth overall, which is the most by any current member of the conference. LBSU had nine individual champions, compiling a school-record 218.5 points. Sythe's pole vaulters gave the Beach a huge boost with a 26.5-point outburst as all five of the team's entrants finished in scoring position (1st-2nd-4th-6th-8th). The women's squad also took fourth overall with Fatima Vergara claiming top honors in the hammer throw.
The men and women went on to send 22 athletes to the NCAA West Preliminary Rounds. The men had three individuals - Willie Alexander, Chris Low and Chris Enriquez - qualify for the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, where they combined to post a 24th-place team finish. Alexander was the national runner-up in the long jump, while Low took seventh in the 800m. Low was the 49ers' first-ever first-team All-American in the 800m.
In addition, the Beach men went undefeated in dual meets, closing out the year ranked ninth in the Track & Field News dual meet rankings, while the women came in at No. 21. The men were also ranked as high as No. 5 in the USTFCCCA West Region Rankings.
In 2013, the Long Beach State men won their fourth Big West championship in eight years. They had 15 athletes produce 21 all-conference honors, including four individual Big West titles. The women added eight all-conference awards.
The LBSU men and women also had 16 athletes qualify for the NCAA West Preliminaries. Willie Alexander, who was named the Big West Men's Freshman of the Year, advanced to the NCAA Championships where he garnered All-America honorable mention recognition in the long jump.
In 2012, 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 claimed their third Big West title behind 23 all-conference 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 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 over 200 qualifiers to the postseason meet. Over the last three years, Sythe sent more qualifiers to the NCAA Regionals than any other combined 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 the fall of 2013, Chris Enriquez earned an individual berth to the NCAA Cross Country Championships. He was the first 49er to qualify for the event in the modern era of NCAA cross country (since 1980). Enriquez advanced to the national meet after placing 10th at the NCAA West Regional, the highest finish in school history, with a time of 29:54.36.
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.
Since Sythe's arrival, the 49ers have rewritten the record books. Currently, 83 indoor and 46 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, 391 athletes have also been named to the academic all-conference team.
On the national level, Sythe's athletes have produced 37 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.
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