Brian O’Neal, the 2009 USTFCCCA Men’s Indoor National Assistant Coach of the Year, enters his third season as an assistant coach at the University of Florida after nearly 15 record-setting seasons as an assistant at Ole Miss.
O’Neal is responsible for coaching the women’s jumpers and assisting head coach Mike Holloway with the sprints, hurdles and relays.
In his first two seasons at the University of Florida, O’Neal was responsible for the development of All-America jumper Shara Proctor, who captured seven Southeastern Conference individual championships under his direction. In her senior season of 2010, Proctor swept league titles in the triple jump and long jump, both indoors and outdoors. She was the co-recipient of the Cliff Harper Trophy at the 2010 SEC Indoor Championships as the league’s high-points scorer and earned four All-America honors as a senior. Under O’Neal’s guidance, Proctor also posted a sixth-place finish in the long jump at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, Germany, and won a pair of Championship of America long jump titles at the Penn Relays Carnival in 2009 and 2010.
In 2010, O’Neal mentored freshman sprinter Lanie Whittaker to become the 2010 SEC Indoor Co-Freshman of the Year after a fourth-place finish in the 400-meter run at the SEC Indoor Championships and running the third leg of Florida’s 4x400-meter relay that ran the school’s fastest time in that event since the 2005 season.
O’Neal had a remarkable first season at Florida, earning national indoor coaching honors after helping develop freshman Christian Taylor, who won the 2009 NCAA Indoor Triple Jump title and also was the Cliff Harper Trophy recipient at the 2009 SEC Indoor Championships as the league’s high points scorer with individual championships in the long jump, triple jump and 4x400-meter relay.
Prior to coming to Florida, O’Neal spent his last three seasons at Ole Miss as the squad’s associate head coach and, in 2008, was named the USTFCCCA South Region Track and Field Women’s Assistant Coach of the Year. After joining the Rebels’ coaching staff in 1994, O’Neal was promoted to a full-time assistant in 1995.
In his final season in Oxford, O’Neal mentored sprinter Kenyata Coleman to a fifth-place finish in the 400-meter dash at the NCAA Championships and All-America honors. Coleman won the 2008 SEC Outdoor Championship in the 400-meter dash. Fellow sprinter LaJada Baldwin was also an All-America selection in the 400m, holding a personal-best time of 52.51. Both advanced to the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Ore., with Coleman posting a time of 51.67. She earned first-team All-SEC honors and never finished lower than fifth in the 400m in any competition during the season.
In his last year at Ole Miss, O’Neal coached four women in the 400m hurdle finals at the SEC Outdoor Championships and Brittney Reese was fifth at the SEC Indoor Championships in the 60-meter dash. Reese was the 2008 NCAA indoor and outdoor champion in the long jump and represented the U.S. in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, winning the Olympic trials with a personal-best mark of 6.95m.
As just a freshman, Lee Moore was a semifinalist in the men’s 400m hurdles. Sprinter Kasey McDaniel set the school record in the 100m hurdles (13.22) and was a semifinalist at the 2008 NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Both of his women’s relays advanced to the NCAA Outdoor Championships, with the 4x100 relay finishing ninth after setting the school record at the SEC Championships (44.39) and the 4x400 relay finishing 11th after setting the school record (3:32.77) at the NCAA regional meet.
At Ole Miss, O’Neal was responsible for coaching the sprints, relays and hurdles for the Rebels, as well as serving as the team’s recruiting coordinator.
In all, O’Neal has coached 48 athletes to top-three SEC Championships showings and 12 athletes to top-four finishes at the NCAA Championships. He also mentored 18 athletes to earn 39 All-America honors and seven SEC champions during his time as a member of the Ole Miss coaching staff.
In 2007, under O’Neal’s direction, the Lady Rebels set a school record in the 4x100m relay as the quartet of Kadeshia Fortune, Cachet Murray, Kim Mulkey and Coleman posted a time of 44.49 at the SEC Championships. The Ole Miss 4x100-meter relay team would go on to finish in 11th place at the NCAA Championships. O’Neal also guided Coleman to a school record in the 400m en route to her selection as an NCAA Outdoor All-American.
The 2006 season saw Ole Miss set a school record in the women’s 4x100-meter relay. Additionally, O’Neal mentored Rodney Lockhart to an impressive freshman season that was capped off by Lockhart finishing sixth in the 400m at the USA Track and Field Junior Championships and representing his country at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Beijing, China. That season, John Yarbrough finished as the NCAA runner-up in the 110m hurdles after finishing fourth in the nation the previous year.
Sprinter Antwon Hicks, under O’Neal’s guidance, was a two-time NCAA indoor champion in the 60-meter hurdles, claiming the national title in 2003 and 2005.
The men’s 4x400m relay team participated in both the indoor and outdoor NCAA Championships in 2004 and the women’s 4x100m relay team was one hand-off away from participating at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
In 2002, the Ole Miss sprinting corps had yet another successful season that saw one individual (Kendrick Triggs - indoor 200m) and one relay team (outdoor 4x100m) earn All-America honors. After such a strong season that year - he also participated on the 4x100m relay team - Triggs followed that up with Ole Miss’ first individual SEC Championship in 10 years by taking the indoor 200m title.
O’Neal’s sprinters shattered school records in 11 events in 2001. The UM sprinters also excelled on a national and international level. Ole Miss was represented by three athletes who competed for USA teams over the summer. Teneeshia Jones competed in the World University Games, Triggs competed in the Junior Pan American Games and Savante’ Stringfellow competed at both the World Championships and the Goodwill Games.
Stringfellow was the USA indoor and outdoor champion in 2000 and also claimed the NCAA Outdoor Championship in 2000, representing the U.S. in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.
Under O’Neal’s guidance, Jones won the 2001 SEC title in the 100-meter hurdles and finished her career with eight All-America honors and seven school records. Shelton was the 2001 NCAA runner-up in the indoor 60m, garnering his first All-America honor. Triggs set the Ole Miss record in the indoor 200m and went on to post an outdoor personal-best with his runner-up finish in the USATF Junior Nationals 200m.
O’Neal also has had success guiding 800m runners, as former Lady Rebel Chika Chuku was the 2000 SEC Outdoor runner-up and twice placed third in the event at the SEC Championships, while Sherlonda Johnson finished third in the 1997 SEC Outdoor Championships and fourth at the 1997 SEC Indoor Championships.
O’Neal directed the men’s 4x400 relay team to the Championship of America title at the Penn Relays in 1999, the last year the Rebels would compete at the historic event.
In his first season with the Rebels, O’Neal coached Greg Saddler to an NCAA Championship in the 55m and coached the men’s 4x400m relay team to an SEC runner-up finish and a fifth-place finish at the NCAA Championships. He also guided Angie Clay to the SEC runner-up finish in the 400m. His 4x400m relay team that year set a then-SEC record of 3:02.30.
In his second season, O’Neal coached the No. 1 and No. 3-ranked 400m men in the NCAA with Brad Pride winning the SEC Championship with a mark of 45.29 and Ed Odom posting a time of 45.35.
A native of Pontotoc, Miss., O’Neal was a middle-distance runner for the Rebels. He was a four-year letterwinner and a member of three relay teams that finished in the top three at the SEC Championships, including the 1990 SEC runner-up 4x800-meter relay team.