Three Boilermakers earned All-Regional honors Friday.
Matthew McClintock and Hope Schmelzle lead Purdue into Friday's races
The women have beaten ranked foes in three straight races
McClintock and Schmelzle continue to pace respective squads
The men's and women's teams both finished top six
"We are very pleased to have coach Jeff Kent join our staff as assistant cross country and track and field coach. He comes from a very strong pedigree and he has an understanding of what it takes to get our cross country and distance programs going. I feel he is a great fit to our staff's dynamic and I am excited to get him on board and going with the Boilermakers." - Head coach Lonnie Greene
Jeff Kent began as the assistant cross country and track and field coach on Aug. 14, 2014. He joined the Purdue staff after spending five years at the University of Arkansas as director of operations for the women's track and field program.
In just his second year with the Boilermakers, Kent helped coach the women's team to their first USTFCCCA national ranking in program history, as the women were ranked 30th in the Oct. 20, 2015, poll. The men's team also received votes in the poll for the first time in more than 15 years. Kent coached Purdue senior Matthew McClintock to the program's first men's individual Big Ten champion in 72 years - since 1943 - as McClintock broke the all-time Big Ten 8,000-meter record to win the conference championship. McClintock was named the Big Ten's Men's Cross Country Athlete of the Year, Purdue's first since the honor began in 1987. McClintock also earned All-Big Ten honors, the third of his career. He is one of just four Purdue men to earn the honors.
Kent helped lead the women's team to a sixth-place finish at the 2015 Big Ten Championships, the program's best since 2001. Hope Schmelzle finished fifth and became the Purdue women's first All-Big Ten honoree since 2001, and just the third in program history. With Kent and Greene's direction, Schmelzle shattered Purdue's all-time Big Ten Championships 6k record. She and Katie Hoevet became Purdue's third and fourth runners in program history to break the 21-minute mark at the conference championships. Kent and Greene's Boilermakers did so with a team that has four scorers with remaining eligibility.
The 2015 Boilermakers won the Crusader Opener on the men’s and women’s sides and had a pair of top-four finishes at the Coast-to-Coast Battle in Beantown against several of the nation’s best teams. The Boilermakers also defeated ranked teams on both sides at the Notre Dame Invitational, with the men finishing fifth and the women sixth.
In his first year with the Boilermakers in 2014, Kent coached McClintock to his second consecutive All-America honor and a 19th-place finish at the NCAA Championships - 18 spots higher than the previous season. Under Greene and Kent's direction, McClintock finished third at the Big Ten Championships, as well as at the Great Lakes Regional. McClintock became Purdue's first two-time All-American since 1949-50, and just the third in program history.
In Kent's first year as the assistant coach of the Boilermakers, the women finished eighth at Big Tens and ninth on the men's side. All 10 scorers, five men and five women, have remaining eligibility, including a combined five underclassmen. Eighteen of the 20 runners across both genders that started at Big Tens and Regionals will return to the Boilermakers next season. Kent improved the women's squad to have eight runners finish under 22 minutes at the Big Ten Championships for the first time in Purdue history.
On the women's side, Kent helped coach a very young team, as the Boilermakers lost three of their five scorers from the 2013 Big Ten Championships and Regionals, that matched its eighth-place Big Ten finish, despite the conference adding two teams, and jumped three spots at the Great Lakes Regional to 10th. The team's scoring at Big Tens was a testament to coaching, as the top five finishers comprised two freshmen, two sophomores and a junior, all who will return next season. At the regional, the women started six individuals with remaining eligibility, including all five scores. The top three scorers were underclassmen.
Kent also helped lead the Purdue women to eight times under 22 minutes at the Big Ten 6k, something Purdue had never before accomplished. The women also posted five of the school's fastest 10 6k times ever run at the Great Lakes Regionals. All five of those individuals return in 2015. Under Kent's direction, the women also finished second at the Indiana Intercollegiates, while the men won the Belmont Opener.
Prior to Purdue, Kent and Purdue head coach Lonnie Greene had worked together in the past, as Greene was an assistant coach for the Arkansas women's program until 2012 when he was hired as Purdue's head coach. Kent also is familiar with the Big Ten Conference, as he graduated from the University of Iowa in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in heath and sports studies.
During Kent's time at Arkansas, the Razorbacks were one of the top track & field and cross country programs in the country. The women's team had six top-10 finishes at NCAA Track and Field Championship meets. The Razorback harriers advanced individuals to the NCAA Cross Country Championships each year he was there, including qualifying the team each of the last three years after winning regional championships. Arkansas finished in the top 20 all three of those years.
A native of Valparaiso, Indiana, Kent ran collegiately at Ball State and Iowa on the cross country and track teams. The new Purdue distance coach specialized in the 3,000-meter run and 5,000-meter run, and finished 10th in the 5k at the Big Ten Indoor Championships during his senior year.
After earning his undergraduate degree from Iowa, Kent attended Delta State University (Cleveland, Mississippi), where he earned a master's degree in health, physical education and recreation.