BILL LAWSON | DIRECTOR OF TRACK & FIELD / CROSS COUNTRY
Since his arrival at Kent State in 2005, Bill Lawson has maintained the program's long tradition of excellence while elevating the success of his student-athletes on the national stage. Conference titles have become expectations for Kent State men's and women's track and field with Lawson at the helm.
With a 30-year collegiate coaching career that has included countless individual conference titles, All-American campaigns and team championships, Lawson is recognized nationally as an elite track and field coach.
In all, 139 Kent State student-athletes have been MAC Individual Champions with Lawson as their mentor, while over 135 have qualified for the NCAA Regional meet. Of those, 38 have qualified for the national championship, with a total of 57 finishing their season as All-Americans. Lawson has led many student-athletes to Olympic Trials and world championships.
As Kent State’s Director of Track and Field/Cross Country, the Golden Flashes have captured 11 team titles in the last eight seasons: four women’s indoor, five women’s outdoor, one men’s indoor and one men’s cross country.
For the fourth straight season, all four of Lawson's track and field squads were in the hunt for championship banners at the Mid-American Conference Championships.
In 2015, Lawson directed 12 student-athletes to the NCAA Championships and had 20 qualify for the NCAA East Regionals for outdoors. He had one national runner-up for men's hammer throw (Matthias Tayala) and oversaw the first 4x400-meter relay team qualify for the NCAA National Championships. The first Golden Flashes 4x400m relay (Matt Tobin, Andrew O'Leary, Danny Young and Miles Dunlap) finished 16th in the nation, running a 3:08.36 at the championships.
During the this past summer, Lawson had one athlete compete for their respective country, Danniel Thomas (Jamaica), who later on went to compete at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China.
In 2014, the Kent State women’s outdoor track and field team captured the MAC title for the fifth straight season. As a total for the Golden Flashes, Lawson directed nine student-athletes to the NCAA Championships and 21 qualified for the NCAA Outdoor East Regionals. His teams recorded one NCAA National Champion in the men’s hammer (Matthias Tayala) and one NCAA National Runner-Up in women’s discus (Danniel Thomas) this past season.
In the summer of 2014, two student-athletes competed for their countries, in Matthias Tayala (USA) at the NCACA Under-23 Games and Danniel Thomas (Jamaica) at the 2014 Commonwealth games.
In 2012, the Kent State women's outdoor track and field team captured the MAC title for the third straight season. Five student-athletes participated in the NCAA Championships and 22 qualified for the 2012 NCAA Outdoor East Regionals.
In 2011, Diana Dumitrescu was a two-time All-American in both indoor and outdoor for her efforts in the heptathlon with Lawson’s guidance.
The 2009-10 campaign marked the first time Kent State women’s track and field claimed both the indoor and outdoor conference titles in the same season.
The 2008-09 season was a banner year in the history of Kent State track and field as the men's indoor team captured its first ever MAC championship, dominating the field on its way to the title. For the season, 13 student-athletes went to the NCAA Regional meet, with three advancing to the 2009 NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Kim Hamilton, with only nine months of training after four years of playing softball for the Golden Flashes, reached the national podium with a fifth-place finish in the javelin. For the indoor season, a total of six athletes qualified for the NCAA championships while LeVania Henderson captured All-American honors in the weight throw.
In 2007, Lawson had the men's team on the cusp of capturing an outdoor MAC title. In a wild finish that came down to the final event, Kent State finished in third. However, two athletes achieved All-American status when Chris Caine finished eighth in the decathlon and Andy Nicholas finished eighth in the hammer throw.
Lawson believes that building a national power in track and field is cultivated through great recruiting. Integral in that equation is great people; and Lawson has great pride in the assistant coaching staff he has assembled at Kent State.
Lawson, 58, became the 11th head coach in the program's 88-year history on Sept. 8, 2005. As the Director of Track and Field/Cross Country, Lawson oversees both programs while also working with athletes in the heptathlon, decathlon and pole vault events.
Lawson arrived at Kent State following a six-year run at Oregon, where he served as recruiting coordinator and coach for jumps, throws and decathlon. With the Ducks, Lawson coached student-athletes to 14 different All-America honors and two national championships. As a team, Oregon captured the 2003 Pac-10 title and placed 13th at the NCAAs that same season.
In 2004, Lawson’s decathlon corps at Oregon was one for the record books. Lawson’s charges placed first, third, fourth and fifth at the Pac-10 Championships. Three Ducks finished with personal bests at the season finale. Lawson also coached nine indoor Mountain Pacific Sports Federation competitions.
Aided by Lawson’s tutelage, Oregon finished ninth at the 2001 NCAA Championships; Santiago Lorenzo (decathlon) and John Stiegeler (javelin) were both national champions in their respective events that year.
Lawson’s first stop as a collegiate coach came at Northern Iowa, where he served as associate head coach at his alma mater for 15 seasons. The Panthers saw Lawson aid in the development of 18 All-America athletes and assist the program in capturing 15 team conference titles and 132 individual championships. Five of Lawson's former athletes at UNI were recognized as conference athletes of the year.
Lawson's coaching career began at John Marshall High School in Rochester, Minn., where he mentored its cross country, track and field, and women's basketball squads for three years.
A 1980 graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, Lawson graduated with an undergraduate degree in physical education and a master's degree in physical education with a concentration in exercise science. In 2003, Lawson was named to the UNI Athletic Hall of Fame after capturing All-American honors four times and earning four berths apiece to the NCAA Division II Championships in the decathlon, pole vault and triple jump during his career as a collegiate athlete.
A native of Carthage, Ill., Lawson and his wife, Jodie, have a daughter, Abbie, who is a junior on the Kent State Women’s Soccer team, and a son, T.J., who is a freshman on the Kent State Track and Field team.