Rahn Sheffield, who led numerous San Diego State athletes to All-America honors during his 23-year tenure with the Aztecs program, started his UC Davis Athletics career in 2014 as an assistant track coach, before becoming the Aggies’ Director of Cross Country and Track and Field the following year.
2014: Sheffield made an immediate impact in the UC Davis track and field program, helping the sprinters and hurdlers on the women's team capture their third straight Big West Conference championship, with the men’s team earning third that season. Standout Ashley Marshall successfully defended her 100- and 200-meter titles, was named the Big West Women's Track Athlete of the Year for the second consecutive season, and was subsequently presented with the Heitman Award as the top UC Davis female athlete for 2013-14. She later advanced to the NCAA Finals for the second straight year. Besides Marshall's two wins, Nixon (400), Kellie Grigg (400H), Johnson (100) and Karl Moran (400H) also won Big West titles. The men's 4x100, which along with the women's relay set school records in 2014, won the Aggies' first-ever Big West championship in the event as well.
2015: With his first year as interim coach, Sheffield’s impact on the UC Davis track and field program only grew. Prior to the 2015 outdoor season, the women’s cross country won the Conference Championship during their season. At the Big West Championships, the women’s squad placed in second, while the men’s squad placed in fourth. On the women’s side, conference champions included Ashley Marshall (100 & 200), Rocki Lambdin (800 & 1500), Ariel Maroon (pole vault), and Erika Barr (3kSC).
2016: Sheffield was awarded with the 2016 Women’s Coach of the Year award after leading the women’s team to a first-place title at the Big West Conference Championships, marking their fourth victory in five seasons. Individually, conference champions on the women’s side came from relay-team of Goins, Adolphus, Redick, and Nadreau (4 x 400), Rianna Goins, and Erika Barr (3kSC), who was second-team All-American at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. The men’s team, finishing their Big West Conference in fourth place, also saw individual conference titles from Kyle Clancy (high jump), who became both the first high jumper to win that title and the first freshman to jump over 7’ in UC Davis history, as well as Trevor Halsted (10K). Outside of Sheffield’s success at the conference championships, Erinn Beattie tied the women’s high jump school record, while Clancy, Beattie, and Xandrine-Anderson qualified to the USA Junior Track and Field Championships.
2017: The fourth-year UC Davis track and field head coach finished the season in a tie for 52nd place at the NCAA Championship, thanks to Rianna Goin’s sixth-place finish in the 800m. Before this post-season competition, Aggie team of Bunch, McGee, Davis, and Adolphus won the 4 x 100 relay at the Big West Conference Championships, which also became the new 4 x 100 relay school record, while Kierra Davis earned the 2017 Big West Conference Freshman of the Year under Sheffield.
BEFORE UC DAVIS:
Sheffield began as an assistant coach at SDSU in 1984 and then was elevated to head coach in 1991. He retired from the position in 2008 after achieving tremendous success which included 78 Aztecs qualifying for the NCAA Championships, 19 earning All-America honors and three capturing individual national championships.
Additionally, nearly 30 of his athletes competed in the U.S. Olympic Trials and four advanced to the Olympics.
"We are very pleased to be able to bring someone with the breadth and depth of Rahn's background to complete our staff for the 2013-14 year," said former Aggie head coach Drew Wartenburg upon Sheffield's hiring. "Rahn's coaching accomplishments on the regional, national and international levels will provide a valuable asset to the program. Our challenge from this point forward is to bolster the strong components of our sprint and hurdle group while also working to raise the level in areas where improvement can make an immediate impact on the overall strength of the team."
Sheffield led his team to several outstanding finishes, including the 2003 Mountain West Conference outdoor championship when the Aztecs ended BYU's 21-year championship reign. His final two seasons featured top-10 finishes at the NCAA West Regionals. Sheffield was a three-time conference coach of the year.
His expertise also extends beyond the collegiate borders with several of his athletes making names for themselves on the international stage. One of his more notable athletes was his sister, LaTanya Sheffield, who competed in the 400-meter hurdles at the 1988 Seoul Olympics during a career that spanned through the 2000 Olympic Trials.
"UC Davis has elite students," Sheffield said. "I'm here to help us have elite athletes as well. The University of California system is attractive on its own. The mental aspect is the most important part of training for an athlete. That will allow them to compete at a higher collegiate level."
Sheffield's recognition in the track and field community, particularly as a coach whose unique rotation hurdling technique has been noted by the Olympic Development Committee, has already helped focus attention on the Aggies' program as a destination for hurdlers.
Sheffield earned his undergraduate degree from San Diego State in 1980 after enjoying a track and field career that resulted into two All-America honors.