Aug. 20, 2013
MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin Director of Cross Country and Track & Field Mick Byrne has announced the hiring of Gavin Kennedy as an assistant cross country and distance coach on Tuesday.
“Gavin is someone I’m familiar with and excited to bring to UW,” Byrne said. “He spent three years at Iona College, my former place of employment, and did a fantastic job. He moved onto Illinois, and we came up against him quite a bit in those five years in the recruiting circles. He is someone that I feel comfortable around, and we happen to share a lot of the same philosophies.”
“I am thrilled to be a part of the newly combined Wisconsin cross country and track and field program,” Kennedy said. “I have tremendous respect for Mick Byrne and the work he has done for our sport. Mick is committed to doing things the right way and putting student-athletes first. I’m also excited to work with Coach (Jim) Stintzi. The University of Wisconsin has tremendous tradition on both the men’s and women’s side in regards to producing top-notch student-athletes and winning championships. I look forward to continuing the tradition.”
Kennedy arrives in Madison after spending a year at Ole Miss as an assistant coach.
A native of Waterford, Ireland, Kennedy is no stranger to the Big Ten. He served as the head men’s cross country coach and distance coach at Illinois in 2011, when the Illini sent two men to the NCAA cross country championship for only the second time in school history. Illinois also sent Kyle Engnell to the NCAA outdoor championships in the 3000 steeplechase. In addition, Joe McAsey finished fourth in the 800 meters at the USA junior championships.
Kennedy followed in the footsteps of Byrne at Iona College, arriving in New Rochelle, N.Y., in 2008 as Byrne left after 24 years to join the staff at Wisconsin. During his tenure at Iona, Kennedy led the men’s cross country team to three consecutive top-10 finishes at the NCAA championship, including a runner-up finish in 2008. The Gaels also claimed three straight Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference titles on both the men’s and women’s sides.
During the 2010-11 season, Kennedy served as associate head coach as the men’s team finished sixth overall in the 2010-11 USTFCCCA Division I Program of the Year standings. While Kennedy was at Iona, the Gaels earned a total of 11 All-America honors.
In 2010, Heidi Gregson advanced to the mile final at the NCAA indoor championships and the final of the 1500 meters at the NCAA outdoor championships.
Leonard Korir became Iona’s first national champion in any sport by winning the indoor 5000 meters title and the outdoor 10,000 meters championship in 2011. He also went on to achieve the Olympic “A” standard in the 10,000 meters at the Payton Jordan Invitational.
Kennedy has an extensive background as both a distance performer and an assistant coach, having served in both capacities at his alma mater, DePaul.
During his time as an undergrad at DePaul, Kennedy served on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and on the DePaul University Captains' Council. He broke the two oldest records in DePaul history in the indoor mile and outdoor 1500 meters. For his efforts, Kennedy was named MVP of the men's indoor track team in both 2004 and 2005 and was named all-conference in all four of his years on the team. In addition, he was named to Conference USA's All-Academic Team in 2005 and the Big East All-Academic squad as a senior in 2006.
“Now that we have gone to a combined program, it is obvious Coach Stintzi and I are going to need help,” Byrne said. “You look at the entire program the number of athletes we coach both men and women, and from the mile up to the 10,000 meters is a lot. There’s no way we could do it without help. We brought Gavin on board to help with recruiting and to help us coach. We are very to have him on board.”