BOWLING GREEN, Ohio. -- Bowling Green State University head cross country and track and field coach Lou Snelling announced the hiring of two assistant coaches Wednesday. James Gildon has been named the assistant track and field coach, while McKayla Plank has been hired as a cross country and track and field assistant.
"It's exciting to have our complete staff in place," said Snelling. "It's a diverse group, but the commonality is the desire to help take Bowling Green Cross Country & Track and Field back to its historic level of success. This staff as a whole understands what our goals are and how we are going to get there."
Gildon's primary responsibilities include working with the jump, sprint and hurdle groups for Bowling Green Track and Field.
Gildon comes to Bowling Green from Fort Hays State University where he coached two national champions, nine NCAA All-Americans, 24 national qualifiers, nine conference champions and two ESPN/CoSIDA Academic All-Americans.
Under Gildon's tenure, four Fort Hays University records were broken. Along with 19 of his athletes that rank in the top five of various school records, Gildon is responsible for producing the top five women long jumpers in school history, averaging 5.93 meters per jump. Three of Gildon's athletes also hold the top three women's triple jump records, averaging 12.16 meters.
Gildon has produced at least one NCAA Division II All-American for four consecutive seasons.
During the 2010 indoor season, Gildon coached Darcie Schmitz to a National Championship in the long jump and a runner-up finish in the triple jump.
In the 2007-2008 season, Gildon helped coach Bryan Haynes to a National Championship in the 200m (indoors) and also saw him qualify for the 2008 Olympic Trials in the 200m (outdoors) by running 20.69.
Prior to arriving at FHSU, Gildon coached at Creighton Prep High School in Omaha, Neb. from 2005-2007. While in charge of the horizontal and vertical jumps, he coached 20 Nebraska State Athletic Association qualifiers and 17 athletes to All-State honors.
Gildon competed for Loyola University of Chicago from 2001 to 2004. He ranks in the top 5 in the long Jump and triple Jump both indoors and outdoors. He was also a six-time Horizon League All-Conference performer while competing primarily in the jumps, but also in the short sprints and relays.
Gildon completed his master's of science in health and human performance from FHSU in 2009. He graduated from Nebraska-Omaha in 2007 with a bachelor's of science degree in exercise science.
Gildon now resides in Bowling Green with his fiancée Jennifer (Faas).
"In his first collegiate coaching experience, James built an impressive resume of success with a number of national qualifiers, All-Americans, and two national champions," said Snelling. "He is hungry to build on and broaden that success at Bowling Green and in the Mid-American Conference."
As an athlete, Plank most recently competed for the cross country and track and field programs at the University of Georgia, graduating with a degree in consumer economics in 2010.
As a Bulldog, Plank finished fifth in the 1500 with a time of 4:26.24 at the 2009 SEC Championships and was the top collegiate finisher (second overall) in the 1500 at the Georgia Invitational. She also won the 5000 after recording a time of 17:27.56 at the Georgia Relays, while also competing as a leg on the winning 4x800 relay team.
Plank competed in indoor track for Georgia in 2008, debuting for the Bulldogs at the Tom Jones Memorial Classic as the top collegiate finisher (second overall) in the 3000 (9:40.68). The finish ranked 10th all time in the Georgia record books.
Before transferring to Georgia, Plank attended Iona College, where she was a 2007 All-American and a three time MAAC Champion (2008 Cross Country and 2007 Outdoor: 800m, 1500m). Plank also holds two Iona College records, the indoor 1200 meters and the outdoor 800 meters.
Plank was a member of the 2006 USA track and field team, placing second at the Junior National Cross Country Championships, and seventh at the North American Championships. Plank placed 32nd overall at the 2006 World Cross Country Championship in Fukoka, Japan, crossing the finish line before any other American runner.
A graduate of Archbishop Mitty High School, Plank holds two school records, including the 1600 (4:58) and the 3200 (10:51). Plank guided Mitty to a third California Cross Country State Championship in 2005.
"McKayla (Plank) brings elite level collegiate experience to our program, having been an NCAA Division I All-American," said Snelling. "She understands what it takes to be successful at this level and will no doubt help this program take the next step. "
A native of Los Gatos, Calif., Plank now resides in Bowling Green, Ohio.