Mon, Aug. 6, 2012
Men's Cross Country
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JOLIET, Ill. – Jeffery Barker, a four-time conference coach of the year with seven years of NAIA head coaching experience to his credit, has been named head men's and women's cross country and track & field coach at the University of St. Francis, Athletic Director Dave Laketa announced Monday.
Barker comes to St. Francis from Fontbonne University in St. Louis, where he spent the last year as head cross country and track & field coach at the NCAA Division III institution.
Barker replaces Drew Ludtke, who was recently appointed head women's cross country coach at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh after seven years at the helm of the USF cross country and track & field programs.
Ludtke led the Saints to Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference men's cross country titles in 2010 and 2011. USF finished 13th at the NAIA Championship a year ago following a 14th-place performance in 2010. In track & field, Ludtke's teams boasted 11 NAIA All-Americans in 2011-12 (six men, five women).
From 2007-11, Barker enjoyed a successful stint as head cross country and track & field coach at Kansas Wesleyan University. During his tenure, he was named Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC) Coach of the Year on four occasions: women's cross country in 2008, 2009 and 2010, and women's indoor track & field in 2011.
"We feel very good about the hire of Jeff Barker as our next track and cross country head coach," said Laketa. "We feel confident that he will continue the successes that Drew (Ludtke) and his staff built over the past seven years.
"Jeff's love for the NAIA and his knowledge of what it will take to remain as one of the elite programs at the NAIA level also drew us to him.
"But the thing that impressed us the most was the success that Jeff talked about beyond the track or running course for his student-athletes. He talked about his student-athletes living the values of our mission statement so that they can be successful leaders beyond college. At the end of the day, that is what is most important."
Under Barker, Kansas Wesleyan captured a pair of KCAC women's cross country championships (2009, 2010) and boasted five NAIA All-Americans in women's cross country, men's indoor and outdoor track & field, and women's indoor track & field.
In his final season at Kansas Wesleyan in 2010-11, Barker guided the women's cross country team to its second straight conference title and NAIA Championship appearance as well as the first national top-10 ranking in the program's history. He then coached six national qualifiers, including two All-Americans, during the 2011 indoor and outdoor track & field campaigns.
In 2009, Barker led the KWC women's cross country team to its first NAIA Championship appearance and first NAIA top-25 ranking.
During his four years at Kansas Wesleyan, Barker coached 40 NAIA national qualifiers and 20 All-KCAC performers in men's and women's cross country and track & field.
"What first attracted me to the position was that USF cross country and track & field were well-established by my predecessor Drew Ludtke, who did an amazing job building the programs," said Barker.
"I was also impressed by the enthusiasm of the student-athletes I met during my interview. They have a passion to be successful, not only in athletics, but in the classroom."
Barker began his collegiate coaching career as head cross country and assistant track coach at Calumet College of St. Joseph (Ind.), a post he held from 2005-07. He was the first cross country coach in the school's history.
Barker gained his initial coaching experience as assistant cross country and track coach at Andrean High School in Merrillville, Ind., from 2003-05.
A native of northwest Indiana, Barker received a bachelor's degree in human services and social work from St. Joseph's (Ind.) College in 2003.