JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Head cross country coach and assistant distance track and field coach Mark VanAlstyne was inducted into the 2014 class of the University of North Florida Hall of Fame on Saturday for his athletic and coaching accomplishments during his competitive career and tenure at the university.
"Hall of Fame weekend has turned into one of the very special events each year for the Athletic Department and our alumni," said UNF Athletic Director Lee Moon. "The Hall of Fame is our opportunity to recognize, highlight and celebrate the cream of the crop in North Florida athletic history. This year the committee again did another tremendous job in selecting a class that honors the greats of our past, who not only paved the way for our current successes but also for our future accomplishments. We look forward to welcoming the honorees, alumni and fans back to campus for this exciting event."
VanAlstyne is in his second year at the helm of the Carolina cross country team and distance squads. The men's cross country team is currently ranked No. 13 in the nation and both teams will compete at the Wisconsin Invitational on October 19th.
VanAlstyne, who was associated with the North Florida track & field program for 25 years, began his UNF career as a distance runner (1986-89) before serving as the program's head coach (1991-2012). As an athlete, he set the school record in the marathon (2:27:05) and ranks third all-time in the 10,000m, and he was also a member of the Osprey cross country team that finished third nationally in NAIA in 1987. During his tenure as head coach, VanAlstyne garnered four Conference Coach of the Year honors and was named the NCAA South Regional Coach of the Year in 2002. Under his guidance, the Ospreys captured eight Conference cross country titles and produced six individual national champions, 35 track & field All-Americans and 12 cross country All-Americans. As an assistant athletic director at UNF, VanAlstyne not only helped transition the program to the NCAA DI level, but was also the catalyst behind North Florida securing the program's hosting duties for the Atlantic Sun Championships and the 2012 NCAA East Preliminary.
In his first season at Carolina, VanAlstyne's guidance saw Pat Schellberg earn All-ACC honors at the conference cross country meet, an All-America in Lianne Farber for cross country and ACC Championships in the indoor mile and the outdoor 1,500, as well as 12 All-ACC Academic honors through the cross country, indoor and outdoor season. VanAlstyne coached a USTFCCCA All-Academic women's team with Farber earning individual USTFCCCA All-Academic honors for the 2012 cross country season. He also coached Isaac Presson to the first sub-four minute mile by a Tar Heel since Tony Waldrop and Reggie McAfee in the early 1970s. VanAlstyne's tutelage saw Farber and Presson compete at the 2013 USA Track & Field National Championships.
VanAlstyne coached seven Tar Heels to the first round of the NCAA National Championships, including Elizabeth Whelan in the 800, Annie LeHardy in the 1,500, Isaac Presson in the 1,500, Steve Magnuson in the steeplechase, John Raneri in the 5,000, Matt Valeriani in the 10,000, and Lianne Farber in the 1,500 who went on to compete at the national championships ultimately placing 19th.
The Hall of Fame Induction ceremony took place on Saturday, October 12th, at the Adam W. Herbert University Center on the UNF campus. Video of VanAlstyne's acceptance speech can be viewed below:
Mark VanAlstyne (Track & Field - Head Coach, 1991-2012/Athlete, 1986-89)
"It's a tremendous honor to be inducted into the UNF Athletic Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2014; but, at the same time, it's very humbling. To look upon the accomplishments of previous Hall of Fame members is to see everything that is great about Osprey Athletics. They founded our program, won our first national championships, transformed our campus, and, even now, push us to greater heights. Above all these, their greatest accomplishment was creating the family atmosphere that gave everyone a sense of belonging and made UNF such a great place for my family and I over the last 25 years."- Named NCAA South Regional Coach of the Year (2002)
- Four-time Conference Coach of the Year (Atlantic Sun - 2010 | Peach Belt - 1998, 2000, 2003)
- Guided Ospreys to eight conference Cross Country titles (Atlantic Sun - 2010 | Peach Belt - 2000, 2001, 2003 | Sunshine State - 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996)
- Produced six individual national champions, 35 Track & Field All-Americans, 12 Cross Country All-Americans
- Coached an athlete to a U.S. Track Championship and helped another gain berth in 2004 Olympic Marathon
- Holds the UNF school record in the marathon (2:27:05) and ranks 3rd all-time in the 10,000 meters
- Member of Osprey cross country team that finished third nationally in NAIA (1987) and sixth (1988)
- Served as an assistant athletic director at UNF helping program transition to Division I program in 2005 and was catalyst in North Florida securing hosting duties for Atlantic Sun Championships and the 2012 NCAA East Preliminary