T&F: Caryl Smith Gilbert Completes Staff

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T&F: Caryl Smith Gilbert Completes Staff

Caryl Smith Gilbert Press Conference
Caryl Smith Gilbert Press Conference

The Georgia track and field program has retained another assistant, hired a pair of coaches and added a duo in operations to complete its staff, according to an announcement from Bulldog Director of Track and Field Caryl Smith Gilbert.

Distance coach Patrick Cunniff, who graduated from UGA in 1991 and has coached for the Bulldogs since 2012, has been retained from the former staff while Devin West and Deanna Hill have been also been hired to guide Georgia as assistants.  In addition, Pristina Jones and Noella Anyangwe (an-yang-way) will both work in operations for the Bulldogs.

 

 

 

 

“I think we have now assembled the pieces to our staff that easily make it one of the best in the country,” said Smith Gilbert.  “We have a mixture of coaches who have been on staff in Athens, including one who is a University of Georgia graduate, and know and understand the landscape and a group who is also extremely knowledgeable about our sport and who bring coaching and recruiting experience from a range of different places.  I am excited to have this foundation in place and to see the next level we can get this program to.”

Cunniff will continue his role as Georgia’s distance coach during indoor and outdoor seasons and cross country coach during the fall.  West, who served as UGA’s recruiting coordinator and one of the teams’ sprints coaches from 2015-17, will serve as a sprints and hurdles assistant alongside Hill, who ran for Smith Gilbert at USC from 2015-18 and won a national championship with the Trojans. 

Jones, who had served as Purdue University’s Supervisor of Operations for track and field since 2018, will handle Internal Operations for the Bulldogs and Anyangwe, who competed for the University of Maryland from 2013-16 and was on the Terps’ coaching staff, will be in the External Operations spot on Smith Gilbert’s staff.

 

 

 

 

Cunniff, a native of North Kingstown, R.I., was the 2013 U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) South Region Men’s Cross Country Coach of the Year and has been an exceptional leader of Georgia’s distance program as the corps has posted immense success both on the track and cross course, in the classroom and out in the community.  Most recently in 2021, Cunniff guided Jessica Drop to her eighth NCAA Championships in either track or cross.  Drop was a scorer on both the Lady Bulldogs’ 2018 indoor national championship squad and on their outdoor runner-up team later that year.  Starting his coaching career as a volunteer assistant at Texas in 2003, Cunniff also served as head cross country coach and distance assistant at TCU and Long Beach State before coming back to UGA.

West, a native of Berkeley, Calif., arrives back in Athens after overseeing the sprints and hurdles program at Air Force for a year, which was his second stint at the Academy.  Starting his collegiate career on both the football and track teams at St. Mary’s College and then graduating from Kennesaw State University, West has both recruited and coached some of the country’s best during stints at several Power 5 programs.  He has signed and instructed a variety of Olympians, All-Americans, NCAA champions, conference champions, and school record holders during his stops at Texas, Florida State, Arizona State, Miami, Texas Tech, and others.

Hill, a native of Orlando, Fla., was a 17-time First-Team All-American for Southern California and won the 2018 NCAA outdoor team title with Smith Gilbert as head coach.  A captain for the Trojans, Hill returned to her hometown after graduating from USC and took over as the head varsity boys and girls coach at Lake Highland Preparatory School to start the 2019 season.  Incidentally, Hill ran the third leg of the 4×400-meter relay that won the national title and clinched the team’s national championship over Georgia by a single point in 2018.

Jones, a native of Chicago, Ill., earned her undergraduate degree from North Central College and has Master’s degrees in Arts (Organizational Leadership) and Business Administration (Applied Management) from Indiana Wesleyan University.  Supervising all operations for Purdue’s track and field teams since 2018, Jones has also served as head coach at Jackson State University and Chicago State University and been an assistant at Notre Dame, Jacksonville State University and Warren Central High School (Indianapolis, Ind.).

Anyangwe, a native of Clarksburg, Md., was a team captain, school record holder, and a Neurobiology degree holder at Maryland while competing in the sprints, hurdles, and relays.  She was later was an assistant coach for the Terps for three years before positioning to pursue a Master’s degree at USC.  Earning her Master’s of Science in Global Medicine from USC in 2020, Anyangwe volunteered as a team manager under Smith Gilbert.  The Big Ten All-Academic selection was Vice President of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) at Maryland and has interned or been a research assistant in a variety of medical roles since 2013.

Smith Gilbert, who officially assumed her role with the Bulldogs on June 28, had already retained long-time Georgia throws coach Don Babbitt and hired former Texas Tech jumps and combined events assistant James Thomas.

 

 

 

 

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Greg is closing in on 11 years writing about and photographing UGA sports. While often wrong and/or out of focus, it has been a long, strange trip full of fun and new friends.