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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Head coach and director of Penn State cross country/track & field John Gondak has announced the hiring of Erin Tucker and Angela Reckart. Tucker will oversee the sprints, hurdles and relays as an associate head coach and Reckart will serve as the assistant coach for the cross country and distance programs.
“I am very pleased to announce today the addition of two outstanding coaches to our cross country/track & field staff here at Penn State,” Gondak said. “Both of these individuals believe in our core values and mission at Penn State to have success not only in athletics, but academics as well. They are excited to become a Nittany Lion and to help Penn State cross country/track & field excel in all aspects of our program.”
Tucker and Reckart come to the Nittany Lions with great success with their previous schools.
Reckart served as the assistant cross country/distance coach at North Carolina and Tucker was an assistant coach at Florida primarily working with the hurdles program.
“Coach Tucker has had amazing success as a coach both at The University of Kentucky and The University of Florida,” Gondak said. “His expertise and experience having coached numerous all-American’s, national champions, being part of a team national championship as well as having experience as a National Team coach for the Olympic games will be a great benefit to Penn State track and field. We have had amazing athletes as part of our sprint, hurdles and relays portion of the program and I know Coach Tucker will not only continue this excellence, but raise it to another level.”
Tucker brings a proven track record to Penn State after coaching for four years at his alma mater, Florida.
During his time at Florida, Tucker coached one NCAA champion (2013 – Eddie Lovett – 60-meter hurdles, two NCAA runner-ups, 14 All-Americans, six SEC champions, eight school record holders. Tucker also coached 13 student-athletes to top-10 performances in school history.
As a program between 2012-15, Florida won three national titles, three SEC conference titles and posted numerous SEC runner-up finishes.
Prior to coaching at Florida, Tucker was the assistant coach for hurdles, relays and sprints from 2003-2012 at Kentucky and he also coached at Illinois for three years overseeing the hurdles, relays and sprints program.
While with the Wildcats, Tucker helped lead the track and field program to some of the most successful seasons in program history. During his time at Kentucky, Tucker coached 27 All-Americans, 26 All-SEC honorees, 15 All-Region athletes, six SEC champions, three NCAA runner-ups and an NCAA Champion (Rondel Sorrillo, 200m, 2010). Under Tucker´s tutelage, 34 school records fell and 67 athletes ranked in the top-10 in school history.
At Kentucky, Tucker coached four student-athletes that competed at the Olympics. Luis Luna was Tucker´s first athlete to see Olympic action as she competed in the 400m for Venezuela in the 2004 Athens Games. In 2008, three of Tucker´s athletes competed in the Beijing Olympics as Sorrillo (200m) and Mikel Thomas (110m high hurdles) competed for Trinidad and Tobago, while Jose Acevedo competed for Venezuela in the 200m.
Before starting his coaching career as a volunteer assistant with the Gators in the 1999-2000 season, Tucker enjoyed a prolific collegiate career at Florida. Tucker, a four-time SEC champion and a six-time All-American, won the 400-meter hurdles at the 1998 SEC Championships with a personal best time of 49.82, which still ranks as the eighth-fastest time in Florida history. He also ran on three conference championship teams and four All-America 4x400-meter relay teams.
In the classroom, he was a two-time All-SEC academic honoree at Florida, where he earned a bachelor of arts in History and a master’s degree in Education.
“Coach Reckart comes to Penn State with an outstanding reputation in recruiting and coaching at the Division I level,” Gondak said. “The success the UNC program has had the last few years is a testament to a lot of the hard work she has put in down at Chapel Hill. With her voracious recruiting skills and ability to relate to our athletes, she will bring great energy to our program at Penn State. I am looking forward to working with her on a daily basis in recruiting, coaching and helping the Blue and White middle distance and distance runners continue the success we have had for the last many years.”
Reckart joins the Nittany Lions following a three-year stint as the assistant cross country/distance coach at North Carolina. The Tar Heel cross country program is coming off a historic season as both teams tallied top-25 NCAA finishes for the first time in school history.
The Tar Heel men’s cross country program advanced to back-to-back appearances at the NCAA cross country championships for the first time in almost 40 years. At the 2014 NCAA Cross Country Championships, the men finished 12th, their highest finish since 1985 and the women placed 22nd. The men also posted a 17th-place finish at the 2013 NCAA Cross Country Championships.
On the track for the Tar Heels, Reckart coached both indoor 3,000-meter run champions at the 2014 ACC Track & Field Championships (Annie LeHardy and Isaac Presson), she also coached 11 NCAA indoor championship qualifiers and 17 NCAA first round qualifiers during the last two years.
Reckart graduated from The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science. During her time at TCNJ she was a member of the track & field team and posted All-America honors seven times. She was a member of a 4x400-meter relay that won two national titles. Following her track career, she started coaching at TCNJ by helping with the middle distance program.
Prior to North Carolina, she served as a graduate assistant and volunteer coach at North Florida.