Kentucky’s rising track and field program just lost its leader. After coaching UK’s program for the last six seasons, Edrick Floréal will be the next head coach of Texas’ track and field team, the school announced.
“I would be remiss if I didn’t start off by thanking Mitch Barnhart and everyone at Kentucky,” Floréal said in a statement. “I’m so grateful for all the support they gave me in building a world-class program there.
“It’s because of them that I have an opportunity like this, and I am so excited to be the head coach at Texas. It’s the elite of the elite in track and field programs, and the potential to achieve greatness is fantastic. You have the premier track and field state in the country to recruit in, a rich and proud history, and are the flagship institution of the state. It’s truly an amazing opportunity.”
When Floréal arrived in Lexington, the track program was an afterthought. Placing at the bottom of the SEC, the women’s team had never won a trophy as a top four finisher at the National Outdoor Track and Field Championships. In three of the last four years, Kentucky has earned a top four finish on the NCAA’s biggest stage.
Floréal brought hardware and a ton of swagger to the program. Kendra Harrison broke a hurdling world record and Jasmine Camacho-Quinn won a pair of National Titles in the hurdles, which helped recruit Olympian Sydney McLaughlin to Kentucky. McLaughlin cemented UK’s status as “Hurdle U,” as the coach’s motto “Flo Knows” earned enough pedigree for a Sports Illustrated profile.
His contributions to UK’s women’s team are the most significant, but you cannot overlook what he did to develop the men’s team. This year UK’s Tim Duckworth became just the second man to ever win the indoor heptathlon and outdoor decathlon, joining Olympic gold medalist Ashton Eaton.
Now Mitch Barnhart must conquer the impossible task of finding Floréal’s replacement.
“We are grateful to Edrick Floréal for his work leading our program and wish him well as he pursues this opportunity at Texas,” Barnhart Tweeted. “We believe the success Kentucky track and field and cross country have seen in recent years is just a glimpse of what’s to come for Kentucky Track.
“A national search for our next head coach will begin immediately. Our focus in this search will remain on our student-athletes and their growth as people and competitors.”