Two different personnel changes in the cross-country head coaching job and track & field distance coach position in seven months has made for an unorthodox 2012-13 for coach Eric Mobley’s squad.
Adam Bray filled the vacated dual-position in early September after former coach Matt Jelley left to take a job at Maryland. Three months later, Bray left the team in December after receiving an offer for a full-time assistant coaching position at the University of Pittsburgh.
Mobley said Bray’s stay at Temple was always going to be part time, and players indicated that Bray relayed that message to them throughout the winter season. Though his time with the team was brief, Bray was popular among players, and his exit leaves the team scrambling again without a distance coach for the spring season.
“[Bray] knew what he was doing, we all improved and the future was looking really good for us,” junior middle-distance runner Will Kellar said. “Having him leave was a setback because we had to change training schedules and [techniques].”
Junior women’s distance runner Anna Pavone said the change was hardly a surprise.
“I kind of knew he was going to leave because he kept giving us little signs,” Pavone said. “We knew he was part-time here and he wanted a full-time position. We knew he was going to leave but we didn’t think he was going to leave this year.”
“When you think about it, it was a logical thing to do to go from part-time to full-time,” Mobley said. “I wasn’t surprised nor should I have been surprised. If you have an opportunity to do something part-time, you might jump on it. But if you have a full-time opportunity, you have to jump on it.”
Bray said he informed Mobley on Dec. 22 of his intention to accept the coaching position at Pittsburgh.
Bray informed distance runners days later via phone calls and emails.
Mobley said he will take over the training and coaching duties of his distance team for the remainder of the season and will begin the coaching search at season’s end.
“Toward the end of spring we’ll re-open the search,” Mobley said. “I have a lot of qualified applicants who have sent applications. We’re going to get a really good coach for the program. Just trying to do it during the season with everything going on, it’s better to do it toward the end of the season.”
Through an indoor season marked by change, some of the Owls’ distance performances on the track provided solace for a team facing constant transition.
Pavone, sophomore Michelle Davis-Timothy, senior Tonney Smith and sophomore Jenna Dubrow closed out the indoor season by eclipsing the distance medley relay record twice in consecutive weeks, the last being an 11 minute, 43.63 second finish at the Eastern College Athletic Conference championship that shattered the 11:55.61 mark set a week prior.
Sophomore distance runner Alex Izewski nearly broke recently graduated Travis Mahoney’s 3,000-meter school record of eight minutes and 20.8 seconds at the Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletes of America championship meet, crossing with a mark of 8:21.34 to close out his indoor season.
“Based on [recent] performances, we’ve done well,” Mobley said. “You’re constantly asking student athletes how they’re doing and they’re not always going to be so forthcoming all the time, but I think they’re making adjustments well.”
Part of those adjustments has included a change in the team’s daily workouts.
“Bray was in favor of high mileage,” Kellar said. “He would try to bump us up to 70-90 miles per week and less workouts. Mobley is a lot different in that aspect. He wants less mileage, but more intense workouts and lifting [sessions]. We went from a training program with straight running, base training and very few intense workouts to a lot of intense workouts and not as much mileage.”
In the interim of finding a new distance coach, Mobley has extended his duties to running the distance workouts on a daily basis.
“Mobley is doing the best he can right now,” Pavone said. “He’s paid more attention to us now more than he ever has, and he’s trying to focus on everyone. He’s done a really good job with that.”
Extending his coaching duties and making adjustments to the current situation is something Mobley said comes with the territory of being a track & field head coach.
“Being the coach, you should be prepared for this type of stuff to happen,” Mobley said. “You have to be prepared to handle these things. I look at myself as the track & field coach. I’m a track & field enthusiast. I sit and watch every event and enjoy a track meet. My focus area might be more on a particular aspect of the sport, but I am a track & field coach. Any coach should be prepared for this type of thing to happen.”
Andrew Parent can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @daParent93.