Palmer, Spratling and Thompson advance onto Nationals in Eugene, Oregon
Head track and field coach Alonzo Webb wasted little time letting the Atlantic Coast Conference know that the Pitt track and field team will be a force to be reckoned with on the national stage.
In Pitt's first year in the ACC, Webb produced five All-Americans and had seven of his athletes qualify for NCAA's. He also saw his student-athletes claim three ACC titles.
Leading the charge was Brycen Spratling and Carvin Nkanata. Both Spratling and Nkanata graduated as four-time All-Americans, and both captured individual ACC titles in their final season. Nkanata won the 200 meter dash at both the indoor and outdoor ACC Championship Meet, and he also placed third at indoor nationals, garnering First-Team All-American status. Spratling won the 400 meter outdoor title, and placed fourth at the national meet, also becoming a First-Team All-American. The two graduated with their names cemented in the Pitt record book and Spratling is currently still the NCAA record holder in the 500 meter dash (1:00.37).
The two also combined to help the Panthers win the 4x400 meter relay at the ACC indoor championship meet along with Micah Murray and Desmond Palmer. That quartet qualified for nationals in both indoor and outdoor, and placed fourth at the indoor meet.
That 4x400 team also solidified themselves as one of the best teams in program history when they won the 4x400 meter relay at the 2014 Penn Relays, something Pitt had not done in exactly 75 years.
Throughout his tenure at Pitt, Webb has produced 15 NCAA All-Americans, 51 NCAA qualifiers, 30 ECAC/IC4A champions, three ACC champions 35 Big East champions.
For his accomplishments, Webb was named the United States Track Coaches Association Mid-Atlantic District Coach of the Year in 2003, and repeated that honor in 2004 and 2005 to become one of only two coaches in the country to achieve that distinction, the other being John McDonnell of Arkansas.
In a vote by the Big East coaches, Webb was elected to serve as President to the Big East Track and Field Championship and Competition Committee for 2006. From 2004-06, Webb served as the Vice President of the Championship and Competition Committee while also serving on the Seeding Committee and Big East Standards Committee.
Webb's coaching talents were recognized in 2006 when he was asked to coach the North American Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) Under-23 Championships. Webb was able to coach Pitt student-athlete Julianna Reed to a fourth-place finish in the 400-meter hurdles.
Prior to being named head men's and women's track and field coach at the University of Pittsburgh in 2002, Webb helped direct Kent State University to two Mid-American Conference track and field championships in three years as the program's associate head coach.
Webb, a 1972 graduate of Peabody High School, boasts over 30 years of track and field coaching experience on the collegiate, club, high school and junior high levels. He was also a standout performer himself, competing in the jumps and decathlon at Western Michigan, where he helped the Broncos to the 1976 MAC championship.
Webb joined Kent State in 1999 as an assistant coach and was promoted to associate head coach in 2000. He worked with both the men's and women's programs, focusing on the sprints, hurdles, jumps and multi-events.
During his Kent State tenure, Webb helped the men's team capture the 2000 outdoor MAC championship, the program's first conference title in 25 years. In the 2002 outdoor season the Golden Flashes' women's team won its first MAC title ever.
During his final two years at Kent State, Webb's athletes achieved 16 school records, 14 MAC titles, two All-America citations, two MAC records, four NCAA provisional qualifying performances and two NCAA automatic qualifying performances.
Prior to Kent State, Webb served as the head track and field coach and interim cross country coach at Woodland Hills High in 1999. While with the Wolverines, he coached former University of Pittsburgh football players Lousaka Polite (javelin) and Shawntae Spencer (long jump), both finalists at the '99 Pennsylvania State Championship meet and current NFL players.
He has also been very active on the club level and served as the head coach and president of the River City Elite Track Club in Pittsburgh from 1993-99. The club won 33 national AAU Junior Olympic medals, the most of any club in the country in 1999. Among the athletes he tutored was Cassy Richards, who was Track & Field News' No. 1-ranked women's high school indoor long jumper and also set a sophomore class national record in that event.
In his final two years with River City Elite Track Club, Webb's athletes won 27 medals at the Pennsylvania outdoor championships, including six state champions and five runners-up.
Every year since 1994, athletes under Webb's tutelage have advanced to the USATF Junior National Meet, including two who earned Junior All-America honors. He coached Munhall native Heather Hanchak to the Pan-Am Junior Team in Chile (1995) and the World Juniors in Australia (1996). He also helped Oliver High's Talise Manuel to the IAAF World Youth Championships in Poland (1999). Additionally, Webb coached Mike Sanford, a Pine-Richland High product, who was a Footlocker Cross Country National Finalist.
Webb has also served as Youth Chair of the Three Rivers Association USATF and meet director of numerous associations, regional and Junior Olympic meets.
Webb earned his bachelor's degree in art from Western Michigan in 1979. He and his wife Noel have four children: Tanisha, Crystal, Justin and Alonzo III. His son Alonzo is currently an assistant coach for the Panthers track and field program. He also has four grandchildren Dejuan, Terrance, Tearra and Cailah.