Renowned jumps coach Dick Booth, who spent 27 seasons helping to build Arkansas into a national power and has continued that success at the University of Florida, enters his second season with the Gators as an assistant track and field coach.
At Florida, Booth is responsible for coaching the jumps, as well as assisting with recruiting and other key phases of the program.
In just his first season in Gainesville, Booth had a major impact on Florida’s men’s jumpers. He mentored All-American Christian Taylor to the NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Championships in the men’s triple jump during the 2010 campaign.
Taylor used a 2010 American-leading mark of 17.09m/56-1 (+2.9) to claim the NCAA Outdoor Championship. Taylor also won the NCAA Indoor Championship for the second consecutive year, becoming the first person to win back-to-back NCAA indoor men’s triple jump titles since Walter Davis of LSU accomplished the feat in 2001 and 2002. Taylor became the first athlete in school history to break the 17-meter plateau indoors with a school-record mark of 17.18m/56-4.50. Taylor claimed four All-America honors during the 2010 campaign and also won Southeastern Conference Championships in the indoor men’s triple jump and the outdoor men’s triple jump, plus a runner-up finish in the men’s outdoor long jump.
Booth also directed freshman triple jumper Omar Craddock to new heights, including All-America honors at the NCAA Indoor Championships and a victory in the men’s triple jump championship at the prestigious Penn Relays Carnival. Craddock holds the third-best men’s outdoor triple jump in school history at 16.56/54-4 a mark he accomplished by winning the USA Junior National Track and Field Championships, and ranks third in school history indoors with a best mark of 16.19m/53-1.50.
Booth also is responsible for the development of high jumpers Frankie Hammond and Bryan Turner, both of whom tied for fifth at the 2010 SEC Outdoor Championships.
Prior to joining the Gators, Booth spent 27 seasons as the men’s field-events coach at the University of Arkansas and also served as the head coach at Louisiana-Lafayette. Impressively, every Arkansas school record-holder in the men’s field events was either coached or recruited by Booth.
During his four-year tenure as head coach at Louisiana-Lafayette from 1985-88, Booth was responsible for two individual national championships, five All-Americans and 19 school record-holders.
Booth served as field-events coach at the University of Arkansas from 1978-84 and 1988-2009. Since returning to the Razorbacks, Arkansas captured 14 NCAA indoor track titles in 24 tries with a string of eight consecutive outdoor championships between 1992 and 1999 and another winning streak with titles earned in 2003-06.
During his time at Arkansas, Booth was responsible for 45 individual national championships and 137 All-America honors. Additionally, he coached 11 Olympians.
The jumpers he’s worked with could compile a Who’s Who list of collegiate track. They’ve included Mike Conley, Erick Walder, Robert Howard, Edrick Floreal, Brian Wellman, Jerome Romain, Ray Doakes, Matt Hemingway, Melvin Lister and Kenny Evans.
Booth has also coached pole vaulter Mark Klee and shot put-discus standouts Marty Kobza and Scott Lofquist, among others. At ULL, he had standouts Hollis Conway and Neil Guidry.
At the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain, Booth’s most successful jumper, Conley, captured a gold medal in the triple jump with the second-longest wind-aided distance in the history of the event. Conley had previously won a silver medal in the 1984 Olympics. Conway, the American indoor record holder in the high jump, earned a silver medal in the 1988 Olympics and a bronze at the 1992 games.
A native of Blue Mound, Kan., Booth was a quarter-miler at Ottawa University. He began his coaching career at Wellington (Kan.) High School, then moved to Fort Scott (Kan.) High School and Shawnee Mission South. He gained a reputation as one of the premier prep field events coach in the country while working with four state record holders in seven seasons at Shawnee Mission South.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education from Ottawa in 1966 and a master’s degree in physical education from Kansas State in 1970.
Booth and his wife, Merry Lee, have a son, Marc, and a daughter, Reagan Russell. The family has a proud athletic tradition as Marc was a punter for Arkansas’ football team, while Reagan was a member of the women’s track and field team at Louisiana-Lafayette. Booth also has six grandchildren.
The Booth File
Hometown: Blue Mound, Kan.
Education: Bachelors in Physical Education, Ottawa, 1966; Masters in Physical Education, Kansas State, 1970.
1963-66: Ottawa (quarter miler)
1978-84, University of Arkansas, assistant coach, field events; 1985-88, University of Louisiana-Lafayette, head coach; 1988-2009, University of Arkansas, assistant coach, field events; 2009-Present, University of Florida, assistant coach, jumps.
At Arkansas – 45 individual national champions; 137 All-America honors, 11 Olympians.
At Florida – 2 individual national champions; 5 All-America honors; 2 SEC individual titles.