|Ron Mann's persistent dedication to the track
and field/ cross country program at Northern Arizona University
has secured his success and notoriety at the Division I level.
Last season he garnered his 53rd Big Sky Conference Coach of
the Year, ninth NCAA Mountain Region Coach of the year accolade
and guided sophomore Ida Nilsson to an NCAA runner-up steeple
chase finish. His cross country squads both competed in last
falls NCAA Championships, finishing seventh on the men's side
and 10th on the women's side. Beyond his past laurels Mann
believes the best is yet to come.
Our squad as a whole is more improved as we have strived to
fill in the voids of last season. Last year our squad was youthful
but this term they will benefit from veteran leadership and
a very talented freshmen class. In 2002 we celebrated the materialization
of our new facility, this year our athletes are focused on
reaping its benefits," commented Coach Mann.
Mann's 2002 track and field teams were represented by sophomore
Ida Nilsson at the indoor and outdoor NCAA Championships
as well as hammer thrower, Andrea Hancock and 110 meter hurdler,
Vytautus Kancleris at the outdoor championship. Nilsson recorded
a fifth-place 3000 meter indoor mark (9:10.4) while returning
in the outdoor season to post a runner-up finish in the 3000
meter steeplechase (9:49.3). Both efforts garnerd her All-Amercian
accolades. The combined program collected 13 conference champions.
Mann's success is becoming untouchable not only by NAU standards;
Mann has led athletes to 91 NCAA cross country and track
and field appearances, won 53 Big Sky Conference titles and
nine Mountain Region cross country titles.
But Mann is renown nationally as well. He has coached 92
individual All-Americans, had at least one of his athletes
compete in every Summer Olympiad since the 1984 Games in
Los Angeles, and produced two NCAA national champions (Angela
Chalmers, 1986 cross country; Anna Soderberg, 1996 outdoor
Mann's achievements have been recognized, as he has been
named Big Sky Coach of the Year 30 times (track and field
alone) and had "Coach Mann Day" dedicated to him
by the City of Flagstaff in April 1991. Mann's most recent
honors came in 2000 when he was inducted into the Mt. SAC
Relays Track and Field Hall of Fame alongside track and field
gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee. For these team and individual
accomplishments, Mann received the ultimate NAU athletics
honor in 1999 when he was inducted into the Bank One NAU
Athletics Hall of Fame. He joined his former college coach,
Leo "Red" Haberlack, after being inducted with
the 1971 and 1988 NAU men's cross country teams (the former
as an athlete, the latter as head coach).
At least one of Mann's teams have finished among the top-10
in the nation 13 times in the last 16 years and eight times
in the last eight years.
Mann has led the men's cross country teams to a pair of
second-place finishes at the NCAA Championships (1988 and
1995) and produced a third-place women's team in 1991 (the
highest national finishes by any NAU team in its Division
Besides the success on the track and trail, Mann's programs
have been outstanding in the classroom as well. In the 1990s,
60 NAU cross country student-athletes were named Academic
All-Big Sky. During the 2002 spring semester, the combined
track team posted a 3.04 GPA, which was one of the best in
the nation according to the United States Track Association.
Individually the team included 34 student-athletes with a
3.25 spring GPA or higher.
A 1972 graduate of NAU and member of the 1971 Big Sky cross
country title team, Mann draws on experience from both sides
of the table. After graduating from college, he made assistant-coach
stops at Mesa Community College and his high-school alma
mater, Phoenix Sunnyslope. Mann returned to Flagstaff in
1980 to head up the NAU women's program. He assumed his current
role as head coach of both the men's and women's programs
At NAU, Mann developed a then-rare approach of combining
the coaching and training of the men's and women's programs.
Mann also helped coach the medal-winning West team at the
1991 Olympic Festival and served as head coach of the U.S.
Junior National Team at the 1993 Pan American Games.
Mann is a sought-after speaker on high-altitude training
and has been invited to the U.S. Olympic Training Center
in Colorado, international training summits and national
high-school and college conventions. He has had a hand in
the development of Flagstaff's own High Altitude Sports Training
Complex, which has attracted a host of international athletes
and is growing into one of the world's premier training centers.
Mann is the father of three grown sons: Steve, Ryun, and
Brandon. His wife, Charlene, is the associate director of
undergraduate admissions at NAU.