Stewart Hired as Men's Cross Country and Distance Coach
July 31, 2012
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- University of Illinois men's track and field head coach Mike Turk announced the hiring of Jake Stewart as cross country and assistant track coach. Stewart comes to Illinois after coaching a year on Purdue's men's and women's cross country/track and field staff. At Illinois, Stewart will take on the role of cross country coach for the fall season and lead the distance crew on the track in the winter and spring.
"I am thrilled to have Jake Stewart joining our staff," Turk said. "We had a very strong list of candidates for the position and coach Stewart is the right guy to take the distance program to the next level as we continue the building process. Jacob comes from a great pedigree in the sport. His father is an outstanding high school coach and has been a big influence upon Jacob as has his college coach Mick Byrne, who coach Stewart ran for and coached with at Iona College. He has worked hard and impressed me with his desire for the opportunity to coach at Illinois. He shows great character and shares our vision for the long term success of the program. I know coach Stewart believes in doing things the right way."
During his time at Purdue, he had success on the cross country course and on the track. In the fall, he led the men's cross country team to its best finish since the 2008 season. Stewart also had two athletes qualify for the NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round of Championship (800, 5,000m) while also coaching an athlete who's performance placed them into the top five all-time in the school record books. In addition, Stewart had a USATF Junior All-American and recruited the first Foot Locker All-American recruit in school history.
"I can't overstate how excited I am to join Coach Turk's coaching staff at the University of Illinois," Stewart said. "We have a tremendous opportunity to build a distance program at Illinois that is consistently competing amongst the best in the Big Ten Conference and the NCAA. I am looking forward to getting on campus and working with the student-athletes we already have in place. It's an exciting time in the program, and I am looking forward to being a part of it."
Before coaching at Purdue, Stewart spent three years at Lamar University where he was the assistant track coach and cross country coach. At Lamar, he was named the Southland Conference Coach of the Year in 2009 and in 2010 after the men won four of their five invitationals including a top finish at the 12-team conference championships. The men were also back-to-back cross country conference champions in 2009 and 2010. Individually, he coached 17 Southland Conference champions, helped the Cardinals set 10 new school records and coached 53 conference point scorers in both indoor and outdoor track.
Prior to his tenure at Lamar, Stewart was the assistant coach for the Iona College men's and women's cross country and track and field teams for three seasons. In his time with the Gaels, the men's cross country team finished third in 2006 and runner-up in 2007 and 2008, the highest finish of any program in school history. The men's team was also honored for its scholastic achievements as it was named the NCAA Division I All-Academic Team of the Year in 2006 and 2007. In addition, he coached the first women's cross country team to qualify for the 2006 national championships.
During his time as an undergrad at Iona, Stewart helped the Gaels win four MAAC championships and finish in the top 10 each year. In addition, he was the captain of the squad in 2005, becoming the first walk-on in program history to achieve the feat.
Stewart earned his Bachelor of Science in English from Iona College in 2005. He resides in Champaign and is married to his wife, Brandi.