The lowdown on newcomer Anthony Acklin, who will be joining the Rend Lake College Warrior Track and Field program soon, includes plenty of positive notes.
• Acklin was a two-time National Junior College Athletic Association Indoor All-American and a two-time NJCAA Outdoor All-American as a hurdler-sprinter for Wallace State Community College (AL) from 2001-03. He was a 60-Meter Hurdles runner-up twice indoors and third outdoors.
• He entered the 2006 spring season as the defending Missouri Valley Conference 110M Hurdles Champion and repeated in early May.
• Late in the season, Acklin was ranked No. 6 in the country with his :13.84 clocking in the 110M Hurdles at the Ole Miss Invitational (where he finished second). For that, he was named MVC ”Track Athlete of the Week.” He lowered his time to :13.68 (seventh nationally at season’s end) in Las Vegas and then advanced to the NCAA Regional Finals in :13.69.
The only negative aspect of his résumé . . . He will not have college eligibility left by the time he arrives at RLC.
Instead, the 23-year-old Acklin will be coming to the Ina campus as the Assistant Coach in charge of Sprinters and Hurdlers. And that is good news in itself.
Acklin, recommended highly to Coach Brent McLain by Southern Illinois University-Carbondale Head Coach and four-time Olympian Connie Price-Smith, also ran the leadoff leg for SIU’s 4x100 Relay which narrowly missed qualifying for the NCAA Regionals and either the first or second leg for the 4x400 Relay.
The mature young assistant graduated earlier this month with a degree in University Studies and a minor in Psychology. A New Jersey native, he was a prep All-American for Glassboro Triton before leaving for two years in Alabama.
Acklin then red-shirted his first year at SIUC following a knee injury but made an impact the next two seasons.
He holds the third-best Saluki indoor time in the 60M Hurdles (7.92) and qualified for both the NCAA Championships and the USA Track and Field Championships as a junior. He placed 23rd in the NCAAs before an injury knocked him out of the USATF finals.
He earned MVC “Track Athlete of the Week” honors twice this past spring while consistently finishing among the top five in the 60M Hurdles at major meets throughout the Midwest.
Not only will Acklin be preparing Juco hurdlers and sprinters for competition, he is hoping to compete against them in some of the open meets which feature four-year rivals and older, unattached opponents. His experience and friendly competition can only help the freshman and sophomore Warriors set their goals higher.
“I think being close to their same age will help me in being able to motivate them, and I think they will be able to recognize the fact I have competed nationally at their level and at an even higher level,” Acklin commented.
“Healthy competition every day in practice should help get them better prepared for meets. I don’t think they will have any trouble accepting instruction from somebody whose job is to prepare them for the next level, and I think I can do that.”
An older brother competed for Morehouse College in Georgia.
• Joining Acklin on the RLC coaching staff will be 24-year-old Dan Hunter, a former Southeastern Conference competitor as a pentathlete and decathlete for Mississippi State University from 1999-2003.
Hunter graduated from MSU in 2003 and spent the following season as a Graduate Assistant Coach at Jacksonville State University in Alabama. That fall, he served as an assistant for the Men and Women’s Cross-Country teams, both of which finished higher in their respective conference races than ever before, including a runner-up finish.
The need to return home and help family members devastated by Hurricane Katrina interrupted his coaching career, but he is now eager to return to the college level. For the Warriors, Hunter will concentrate on field-event personnel for both the men and women.
• Coach McLain earlier this spring added a 10-time national championship coach to start a Women’s Cross-Country program in the fall and help with a new Women’s Track and Field program. Coach Denny Myers is a 12-time NJCAA “Coach of the Year” in Cross-Country and once for Indoor Track and Field.
Myers left Vincennes (IN) University after three years as Athletic Director and Head Coach of both Men and Women’s Track and Field and Cross-Country for the opportunity to coach alongside Warrior Head Coach Brent McLain and be part of the prestigious program which is accustomed to challenging annually for National Junior College Athletic Association championships.
Myers spent 20 years, from 1979-2000, as the Cross-Country Coach at Lansing (MI) Community College. The Lady Stars won NJCAA Division II team titles in 1991, 1992, 1994 and 1995, providing the individual pacesetter each of those falls, also. The Lansing Men claimed D-II titles in 1991, 1992 and 1996-99. His harriers also won national invitational meets for Men’s Marathon – 1989 and ’92 – and Women’s Marathon – 1990, ’91 and ’94.
The ultra-successful coach accepted a similar position for the 2000-01 campaign at State University of New York (SUNY) Plattsburgh State before returning to the Midwest and V.U.
During the fall, McLain will coach the men and Myers will be responsible for the women in cross-country. There will be shared responsibilities each winter and spring during track and field seasons; Myers will concentrate on distance runners and pole-vaulters.