Sheffield takes cross country, track programs forward

Rahn Sheffield
Dec. 9, 2014

DAVIS, Calif. - It's full speed ahead for longtime track and field coach Rahn Sheffield who continues to assemble his staff after assuming reigns as interim head men's and women's track and field and cross country coach.

Sheffield, who is in his second year with the Aggies' program after a successful 23-year tenure at San Diego State, replaces Drew Wartenburg who stepped down in the summer in order to pursue other professional opportunities.

The cross country and track and field staffs have taken shape under Sheffield's leadership. Devin Elizondo, who has been an assistant coach with both programs, will continue overseeing the Aggies' distance crews after taking over as head coach for the track and field programs.

Elizondo led UC Davis to the 2014 Big West Women's Cross Country championship and was named the conference's coach of the year. Alumnus Samantha Kearney, who served as a volunteer coach with the Aggies in 2012, has returned to assist Elizondo with the distance runners.

Marshall Ackley (pole vault, multi-events, jumps) and K.P. Singh (throws) continue in their roles as assistant coaches after helping the Aggie women win their third straight Big West Track and Field Championship last spring.

For Sheffield, leading a collegiate program is familiar territory for him. After serving seven years as an assistant coach at San Diego State, he was elevated to head coach in 1991. He enjoyed tremendous success with the Aztecs, qualifying 78 student-athletes for the NCAA Championships with 19 of those moving on to earn All-America honors and three capturing individual national championships.

Sheffield's success with his student-athletes went beyond the collegiate ranks as well with 30 competing at the U.S. Olympic Trials and four qualifying for the Olympics.

"I've been fortunate to coach athletes at all levels of track and field," he said. "All of them, regardless of their level, share a quality of enduring the pain of training but remaining focused on their goals, both on and off the track. UC Davis student-athletes are cut from that cloth and my goal is to help them open the door to the possibilities."

 

 

One of his greatest accomplishments as the Aztecs' head coach was leading them to the 2003 Mountain West Conference outdoor championship, a title that snapped BYU's dominant 21-year championship reign. Sheffield was named the conference's coach of the year three times and ended his tenure in strong fashion with a pair of top-10 showings at the NCAA West Regionals. He also coached two years recently at Minnesota State-Moorhead where his student-athletes broke 27 school records and nine conference marks.

Sheffields taken his expertise to the international level as well as a highly respected hurdles coach. Sheffield,in fact, coached his sister, LaTanya Sheffield, as she competed in the 400-meter hurdles at the 1988 Seoul Olympics during a career that spanned through the Melbourne Olympics in 2000. He also worked with NFL players Cam Newtown and Robert Griffith as well as former Marshall Faulk.

His unique rotation hurdling technique has helped many athletes was has been noted by the Olympic Development Committee.

Sheffield's previous success helped lay a quick foundation for the Aggies' sprinters and hurdlers who enjoyed one of the best years in school history in 2013. Standout Ashley Marshall successfully defended her 100- and 200-meter Big West titles and was named the league's women's track athlete of the year for the second consecutive year. She later advanced to the NCAA Championships for the second straight year as well.

Cekarri Nixon became the school-record holder in the 400 (53.26), Kaio Sena (10.42), Sava Boyadjiev (10.45) and Marcus Johnson (10.48) assumed the second through fourth spots on the Aggies' all-time men's 100 list, and five Aggies won six Big West titles in addition to capturing the men's 4x100 Big West banner for the first time in school history.

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.

The Aggies are currently preparing for the upcoming 2015 indoor and outdoor track and field seasons.