Wales-Dinan comes to Long Beach State from Duke University
49er men and women both finish second in season opener
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 has been at the helm of the cross country and indoor/outdoor track & field teams at LBSU for 23 seasons. 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.
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 won their third Big West track & field title. Seventeen 49ers produced 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 selected as the 2011 USTFCCCA West Region Men's Field Athlete of the Year and the 2011 Big West Men's Field Athlete of the Year.
In 2010, the men had a runner-up finish at the Big West Championships, while 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 advancing to the national championships. Hicks highlighed the group, earning All-America honors in the javelin.
The men's squad won their second Big West title in 2008, compiling 185 total points. The 49ers had 21 individuals qualify for the NCAA Regionals, while six of those advanced 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 took first 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 was 17th overall.
Since the inception of NCAA track & 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.
Sythe has also directed the cross country squad to a number of top performances as his athletes have produced 23 all-conference awards and five All-Region honors. In 2011, Rosa Del Toro was tabbed the Big West Women's Cross Country Athlete of the Year, a first for the Long Beach State program. Del Toro was also the first 49er on the women's side to win the league's individual title.
"The mission of our program is to challenge for and ultimately win conference championships and we are equally driven to continue our improvement at the national and regional level in both cross country and track and field," said Sythe. "I believe that shifting more resources to the distance program has helped us achieve that goal."
Since Sythe's arrival, the 49ers have rewritten the record books. Currently, 80 indoor and 41 outdoor school records have been established by Sythe-coached athletes.
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, his athletes have produced 30 All-Academic teams in cross country and track & field. Individually, Sythe has helped his student-athletes 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. He 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 Long Beach State (1988-89), Sythe furthered his skills under the tutelage of another of the nations 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 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.