Thomas to Join Tech Track and Field Staff
James Thomas joins the Texas Tech track and field staff where he will oversee the vertical jumps and combined events programs.
July 20, 2012
LUBBOCK, Texas - Wes Kittley announced the hiring of James Thomas to the Texas Tech track and field staff on Friday. Thomas, who brings experience from three Division I programs, will oversee the vertical jumps and combined events programs at Texas Tech.
A Houston, Texas native, Thomas arrives at Texas Tech following a successful six-year stint at the University of Kentucky where he played an integral role in developing the Wildcat combined events and jumps program into a consistent national contender as well as a regular force within the SEC.
"I think James really adds a lot to our staff," Kittley said. "He is a veteran coach and has been at three Division I schools. He is going to continue to add to an already tremendous coaching staff here at Texas Tech. He knows the state of Texas very well and will be a great asset to our recruiting efforts. He is a tremendous coach and recruiter and will fit very well within our program."
Under his tutelage, Kentucky rose to the national scene in the jumps and combined events with five Wildcats earning All-America status in four separate events during his tenure. Meanwhile, he produced an NCAA runner-up in the men's high jump, three SEC Champions and 17 All-SEC honorees. "I'm extremely excited to join the Texas Tech staff and return to my home state of Texas," Thomas said. "Wes Kittley and his staff have done an incredible job making Texas Tech an extremely attractive program for coaches, and I'm honored to have the opportunity to join their staff."
While at Kentucky, a total of 28 athletes who trained under Thomas climbed into the program's all time top-10 list including current school record holders in seven events. Thomas' mark is well engraved in the Kentucky combined events program as the top four all-time women's pentathlon and top-three all-time women's heptathlon performances all occurred during his tenure.
Thomas helped guide Ashley Trimble and Precious Nwokey to All-American careers at Kentucky. Nwokey was a two-time All-American in the indoor pentathlon and 2011 outdoor heptathlon All-American before transferring to Texas Tech in 2012. At Tech she twice set the school record on her way to earning first-team All-American honors at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Meanwhile, Trimble earned All-American honors in the pentathlon during the 2009 season.
Most recently, he guided prolific Kentucky high jumper Terri-Ann Grant to a historic senior campaign where she earned second team indoor All-American honors along with back-to-back All-SEC honors at both the indoor and outdoor conference meets. Grant developed into one of the most decorated high jumpers in program history under Thomas' tutelage as she holds the No. 2 all-time mark at Kentucky in both the indoor and outdoor women's high jump.
In 2008, Thomas guided Grant Lindsey to a runner-up performance in the men's high jump at the NCAA Outdoor Championships where he cleared the bar at 7'-5.00". Lindsey also earned SEC and Midwest Region Championships during his 2008 campaign.
Meanwhile, in just Thomas' second season at Kentucky, Derrick Locke earned SEC Freshman Field Athlete of the Year honors during the 2008 season after leaping 25'-5.25" in the long jump at the SEC Indoor Championships. Locke went on to earn All-American honors at the 2008 NCAA Indoor Championships and set the school's outdoor record in the same year.
Thomas was also a key part of developing Kentucky into a national power in the men's triple jump. During the 2011 season, Kentucky was one of just three schools to advance three men's triple jumpers to the NCAA Outdoor Championships qualifying round. Four separate athletes who trained under Thomas still hold top-10 all time marks at Kentucky.
Meanwhile, Thomas built the Kentucky pole vault program, an event that was sparsely competed in prior to his arrival, into a regular contender on the national level. Three pole vaulters advanced to the NCAA Championships during his tenure while both the women's indoor and outdoor school records were set during his time in Lexington.
Thomas replaces Rock Light who served as an assistant coach at Texas Tech from 2006-08 and associate head coach from 2008-12.
Thomas is a graduate of Sam Houston State University where he earned a Bachelor's of Science in Kinesiology before serving as an assistant coach for the Bearkat track and field program for one season.