Prior to the start of the track season MileStat.com made the trip up to Charlottesville to sit down and meet UVA's new head coach and associate AD, Vin Lananna. Below are some of the questions and answers from that meeting.
Here is some background information on Coach Lananna first.
- Former Head Coach at Stanford (92-03) and Oregon (05-12)
- Has won 11 NCAA Team Titles & 42 Conference titles
- Has served as a head coach for Team USA at multiple international events including the Olympic Games
- Former president of TrackTown USA
- Multiple-time winner of national coach of the year honors
- 2012 Hall of Fame inductee
Aside from all of those accolades our meeting showed us something else, he is genuinely someone who cares about the sport. In the hour plus we sat down and spoke he didn't care too much to speak about his own accomplishments or training plans in particular... he spoke about two things in depth.
The first was how excited he was to be at UVA. He stressed his desire to coach at a school that had academics at its core. This is something that he has shown throughout his history of coaching with stints at Dartmouth and Stanford. He was very clear that he thinks academics and a strong academic university are at the core of his model to success.
The second thing was about the current debacle with triple jumpers and other major events being cut from Diamond League meets. Most people feel upset or bothered by it but he was going a step further. He was calling everyone he knew to try and help the situation. He had no dog in the fight and nothing to gain but genuinely cared about these athletes and wanted them to be able to have viable athletic careers in the field events as well.
Sometimes it is things like that that that stand out the most in an interview setting. It is not always the answers that show you who a person is but sometimes it is the small talk after the interview that really shows you what is on their mind and who they are.
UVA has had a strong history of field events (throws) and distance runners competing at a high level on the NCAA level, is that the plan moving forward to focus on those events?
In the current state of things in the NCAA with just 12.5 grants (scholarships) I don't think you can be too diversified. But I think what Virginia represents is a great academic and athletic experience, especially for those on the east coast. We will probably have a strong distance program and we will also look at where the pockets are for some of the other events and perhaps that will be throws but I think we can also be strong in the jumps.
We will also look to have strong 4x4's on both sides and strong 4x1's on the girls side.
How you differentiate between "Conference Points" and "National Points". For the most part these can be very different things where a team can compete better at a conference meet (like the ACC) while others are more geared towards national competition. How do you balance conference success while at the same time focusing on points like what Georgia does.
I think what I will try and do is try to build a strong conference team and find national caliber men and women who could win the conference and also compete at nationals. I think if they can win the conference then they can perform well at NCAA's. I do not think these things are mutually exclusive.
I think we need to be careful that we don't recruit and coach to the middle. What we will try to do will go to high end conference points and those same young men and women will be competitive at the national level.
We will also try and be good at XC, indoor and outdoor which is really difficult to do.
You have strong recruiting ties and experience in the northwest and northeast, is there a certain area that you think if you speciality?
First and foremost we will be committed to doing well in the state of Virginia. That will be very important to me.
Our biggest category will be that every young man or woman that wants to stay in state that can get admitted to school at the University of Virginia will be recruited and we will try and provide that experience. Hopefully as we build the program that will become easy.
We will also recruit nationally. UVA's name is well known. Kids and parents will be very happy with what they will receive at UVA and what I have seen in my few weeks at UVA is a strong passion both for academics and athletes at UVA.
What is your opinion on the state of Virginia's talent? For years our state bats above its average in producing stars in track and cross country.
I think Virginia is pretty talented. I think there is a gold mine (of talent) in the state and we are going to try and do a good job of getting talented young men and women to go here at Virginia.
A lot of Universities are building indoor tracks, is that something UVA is looking at doing?
That's really something that would be addressed with President Ryan and Carla Williams (Director of Athletics). They have worked, long before I arrived, on a master plan to improve all the athletic facilities and having an Olympic Sports complex.
I hope that is something that would fit into the master plan. There is no immediate plan for that but I feel that we have the facilities here for us to do well and of course we would like to enhance them and we will be looking at how we can enhance them.