By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

Veteran coaches bring new vision to CWU track & field and cross country

Yohanes Goodell
Assistant Coach Matt Layten (left) and Head Coach Johnathan Hill (right) at practice

CWU welcomed new coaching staff this year for its track & field and cross country teams, including Head Coach Johnathon Hill and Assistant Coach Matt Layten. Hill and Layten took over for previous Head Coach Kevin Adkisson after finishing his 30-year tenure. 

The athletes under their guidance attest to the wealth of experience and enthusiasm that these two bring to the CWU program, aiming to make significant changes and build a strong team culture.

“I took this term from my assistant Matt, he said ‘bringing people back to neutral and then moving as a unit,’” Hill said. “[By that] I mean we have a lot of individual goals but we need to create group goals and cohesiveness, and really embrace the synergistic aspect of training as a team.”

In regards to implementing revisions, Hill expressed his eagerness to incite change while also outlining his approach.

“We set goals, we create a plan and then we execute,” Hill said. “A goal without a plan is a wish … We don’t worry about yesterday, we don’t worry about tomorrow, all we have to control is today … But if we continue to operate under the premise that we give it our best every day, whatever that is [that] day, then we can find peace in that.”

With a combined total of over two decades of collegiate coaching experience, both Hill and Layten are well-prepared to elevate the teams to new levels of success. In Hill’s previous coaching role at Rice University in Texas, the final season was nothing short of exceptional. Not only did they secure the conference title, but they also achieved the third-highest point total in the university’s history.

Layten, too, has left his mark on successful programs and athletes. Notably, he worked with Division One steeplechase champion Mahala Norris during his tenure at the Air Force Academy. Layten reflected on their shared coaching journeys: “John and I actually have had very similar experiences coaching. We both coached at a service academy, we both coached in Texas, and we were actually in the same conference.”

While Hill was coaching at Rice University, Layten was at North Texas University where they crossed paths numerous times. The alignment of both their coaching experiences and philosophies made Layten’s decision to follow Hill to the Pacific Northwest much easier.

“When he had reached out to me about coming on board here, I was really inspired by his vision for the program,” Layten said. “I appreciate the way he sees coaching and the technical side of things, but also building people up and unlocking the potential in them.”

This shared vision of holistic coaching, one that values not only athletic achievement but also personal growth and development, underscores the coaching staff’s commitment to creating an enriching experience for CWU’s student-athletes.

Mid-distance runner Johan Correa, one of the athletes under the guidance of Hill and Layten, echoed the sentiments of the coaching staff. Correa’s experience sheds light on how the new coaching philosophy is resonating with the student-athletes and driving positive changes within the program.

“My experience with the new coaching staff has been great,” Correa said. “They’ve definitely [been] working hard to improve everything from the moment they arrived here at Central. They also want to make a change for the better, and they are constantly supportive.”

As Correa’s testimonial demonstrates, the new coaching staff’s dedication to improvement and student-athlete support has been well-received.

Turning our attention to Hill’s experiences and the positive changes he plans to initiate during his time at CWU, it’s clear that he has had a remarkably positive impression of his new environment thus far.

“The number one thing that stood out was just how welcoming the [CWU] environment was and how supportive people were,” Hill said. “I felt so welcomed here … From day one, it just felt like ‘welcome home coach.’”

Looking ahead, Hill elaborates on the training methods he has planned for the team.

“I’m just going to go with what I know: healthy doses of speed and power,” Hill said. “Our objective is simple in the speed/power events, we’re trying to apply more force, more quickly, in a better direction than any other man, woman, or animal on the planet.”

Layten expanded upon the plans he and Hill aim to implement, highlighting the steady performance he wants to see from the team.

“With training to be high-level athletes, I’ve always talked about [how it] involves a process,” Layten said. “First and foremost is having that strong process that allows you to be consistent day in and day out. [You’ll want to] have the tools and the consistency to build on each season so that you get to where you ultimately want to go.”

As CWU’s track & field and cross country teams embark on a new era under Coach Hill and Coach Layten’s guidance, the foundation of experience, unity and holistic coaching promises a bright future. The coaches’ dedication to their vision and the positive impact on the student-athletes indicate that “The future of XC and Track & Field are in great hands,” Correa said.

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