FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas head track and field coach John McDonnell and freshman Nkosinza Balumba picked up major awards from the Southeastern Conference on Friday with McDonnell being named the Indoor Coach of the Year and Balumba the Freshman Field Athlete of the Year.
The awards are based on a vote of the league’s coaches.
McDonnell was earlier named the 2006 United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association’s (USTFCCCA) NCAA Division I Men’s Indoor Track and Field Coach of the Year.
This is the 11th time he has earned the league’s indoor coach of the year honor.
During the season, McDonnell guided the Razorbacks to their 19th indoor national championship in the last 22 years. The title was the 42nd national championship in cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field for the Razorbacks.
Arkansas also captured the SEC indoor title which is its 72nd conference crown overall, including its 13th title in 15 tries in the Southeastern Conference.
“You always appreciate your peers recognizing you,” McDonnell says. “I think most of the time that stuff goes with winning. There were a number of other coaches in the league that did a great job with their squads this year. I’m fortunate to be chosen from that group.”
Balumba finished second in the triple jump at the SEC meet and fifth at the NCAA meet. In the SEC meet, he was second to teammate Jaanus Uudmae with a jump of 52-08 ¾. In the NCAA meet, his mark was 53-02 ¼, which was the second-best effort in the SEC for the season.
“I’m really happy for Nkosinza,” McDonnell says. “He deserves it. He had a great freshman season indoors. He did it when he had to have it. Especially at nationals, every point is really important. That is what you like about a freshman stepping up in a big competition. He did about as well as he could have. He is a class act.”
The most successful coach in any sport in NCAA history, McDonnell has racked up 30 national coach of the year honors in his 34-year tenure. McDonnell has also been the recipient of 59 district and 43 league coach of the year accolades.
LSU’s Xavier Carter is the league’s Runner of the Year, Florida’s Mike Morrison the Field Event Athlete of the Year and Florida’s Willie Perry the Freshman Runner of the Year.