Oct. 19, 2013
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Marshall’s track and field program will get a new indoor facility in about 10 months. The Thundering Herd has brought in a longtime successful coach to help with that transition to a welcome oval on which to train and compete.
Don Yentes, a former head men’s and women’s coach at Wyoming, has been named the Herd’s track and field assistant coach. Veteran Marshall track and field and cross country coach Jeff Small is anxious to work with Yentes, who joined the MU staff this week.
"We are thrilled to have Don join our Marshall track and field family,” Small said. “His accomplishments and achievements at Wyoming speak for themselves. He is an excellent coach and recruiter who will continue to push the bar higher for our student-athletes and program at Marshall.”
Yentes, 55, has coached 28 All-Americans, 66 Mountain West Conference champions and had 92 NCAA Nationals qualifiers for the Cowboys. He was head coach there from 2000-12, after serving as a UW assistant for four years.
He was a four-time Mountain West Coach of the Year (twice for men, twice for women) and guided nine NCAA Division I All-Academic women’s teams.
Yentes also has been an assistant coach at Eastern Michigan and coached at three Kansas junior colleges.
With the Herd, he will coach sprinters, hurdlers and jumpers, and will recruit with Small.
Yentes replaces Willie and Lacee Carmon-Johnson, the married Herd assistant coaches who left Marshall this summer for Western Kentucky’s program.
“I’ve been able to coach a lot of good sprinters, a lot of good hurdlers and kids who jumped really far, and I’ve been fortunate to have been around a lot of good athletes for many years,” Yentes said.
Small said the Herd “was fortunate” to get an assistant like Yentes, who has been coaching in NCAA division I or junior college since 1987.
Yentes said he and Small met “years ago,” when Small – then a South Carolina assistant – was recruiting.
“I’ve known Jeff for a long time,” Yentes said. “I was an assistant coach at Barton County Community College when Barton was one of the top junior college programs in the nation for track and field, back in day.
“Our head coach (Randy Cole) was Jeff’s college roommate (at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo). He came out recruiting to the beautiful plains of Kansas, and then I’d see Jeff over the years at NCAA meets, conventions. We’ve known each other for a long time.”
Yentes, born in Covington, Ky., grew up in Greensburg, Ind., and ran cross country at Judson College in Elgin, Ill. His parents were Morehead State graduates – “Marshall was the enemy back then,” he said of the Eagles – and his father, Gerald, played baseball and basketball for MSU, and played hoops in the NCAA tournament in the late ‘50s.
Yentes said his arrival at Marshall couldn’t have better timing, with the Herd scheduled to move next fall into the under-construction Indoor Athletic Facility that will house an eight-lane, 300-meter track and field oval.
“It’s fantastic,” Yentes said. “It’s going to be the best indoor facility I’ve been able to work in … nothing’s even been close. It will be a big boost for us in recruiting and training, and I believe it will probably cut down on the injuries they’ve had down through the years.”
Yentes arrives after Marshall had two NCAA nationals top-six finishers and All-Americans in 2013 (outdoors) seniors Vanessa Jules and Crystal Walker. He said the program will benefit from their performances and the indoor facility.
“The program here, it’s all on the rise,” Yentes said. “The group I’m working with, Willie and Lacee did an outstanding job of recruiting with Jeff. We have some very good athletes in the group, some fine young women who will compete for us.”
Yentes and his wife, Sande, have two adult children. A daughter, Morgan, is a teacher. A son, Dylan, is a student and works in the banking profession. Yentes has one grandchild – Jackson, 2, who he called “the most important thing in the world right now.”