The Drake Athletic Department recently announced the hiring of LaRon Bennett Jr. to become the assistant men and women's track and field coach specializing in coaching hurdles.
"After considering over 75 applicants, LaRon Bennett rose to the top as the best candidate," Drake Track and Field head coach Natasha Brown said. "He shares the same passion of our coaches for the sport of track and field."
Bennett is a talented athlete who has spent his time balancing athletic excellence, community leadership, and a young family.
Bennett grew up in Brunswick, Ga., attending Glynn Academy High School before going on to the University of Georgia. He graduated in 2007 after an impressive athletic career and a Bachelor of Science in Child and Family Development.
While competing for the Bulldogs at Georgia, Bennett was a three-time All-American in the 400 meter hurdles (2003-2005) and team captain for one of the top squads in the country.
Bennett continued his success at the professional level competing in the Olympic Trials finals twice (2004 and 2008), and the semi-finals in 2012. He also finished sixth in the 400 hurdles at the USATF Championships in 2010.
He hopes to continue to compete, making one more stab at the Olympics in 2016.
"Coach Bennett brings a strong competitive background to our program having served as an assistant coach in the SEC," Kaiser-Brown said. "I believe, in a short amount of time, we will see some impressive results from our hurdlers in the seasons to come."
While continuing his professional career, Bennett found a new love of in coaching the sport he enjoyed so much. He volunteered as a sprint and hurdles coach at Georgia, as well as at North Oconee High School, where he helped lead their teams to top state finishes in 2010.
Drake is no stranger to Bennett, who has competed at the Drake Relays six times in his career including four with Georgia and twice as a professional.
"It's a real personable atmosphere," Bennett said of Drake. "I've had a good experience here with the Drake Relays and I'm really looking forward to a transition to the coaching ranks."
Bennett prides himself on his involvement outside of the athletics realm. He is an active member of his church, becoming a Deacon in 2010 and worked with Win with Integrity, a group that speaks to young athletes to motivate and encourage them to make positive decisions in their developing career.
This is the first time he will be in the midwest for an extended period of time. He mentioned how he hoped to "bring the warm weather" with him, though Kaiser-Brown and head Cross Country coach Dan Hostager had already given him his first large winter coat.Bennett and his wife Kali have an eight-month-old son, Malachi.