Monte Stratton knows what it feels like to be around champions. One of the top sprint coaches in the world, he's mentored individual and team conference champions, individual and team national champions and, in 2003, he added an individual world champion to his coaching resumé.
Now in his ninth year leading the TCU track & field program, Stratton hopes to add to his already impressive list of credentials this season, as the Flyin' Frogs appear ready to challenge the nation's elite in Fayetteville, Arkansas in March and in Austin, Texas in June.
The TCU track and field program has developed into a powerhouse over the years - a program that doesn't rebuild, but rather reloads.
Hired by former TCU athletics director Frank Windegger in 1995, Stratton's charge was simply to maintain the tradition of excellence that had already been in place. But Stratton obviously was not going to be content with the status quo.
During his tenure, Stratton has taken the Flyin' Frogs to heights never before achieved in TCU's proud and unique track and field history. He has produced numerous conference champions and All-Americans and is nationally recognized as one of college track's top sprints and hurdles coaches. With the completion of its sparkling new facility in 2000, all the pieces are in place to keep TCU among the elite programs in the country.
Under Stratton's watchful eye, TCU posted a third place finish at the 1998 NCAA Outdoor Championships. That performance, produced almost solely by TCU's depth of outstanding sprint talent, served notice that the Frogs would be a factor at the national level. Keynoting the meet was the collegiate record set by the 4x100-meter relay team of Bryan Howard, Jarmiene Holloway, Syan Williams and Percival Spencer. But Stratton's Frogs proved to be more than just outstanding sprinters as senior Khadevis Robinson took home the title in the 800 meters. In addition to the men's team's outstanding showing, TCU's women posted a 29th-place finish in the team standings.
Stratton's 2000 squad was a heartbeat away from the standard set by the `98 squad, as it posted a fourth place finish in the NCAA indoor meet and placed 11th in the NCAA outdoor championships. TCU's 4x200 meter relay team set an indoor collegiate record time of 1:19.67, while the 4x400 relay team was the 2000 indoor national champions. The 4x100 team produced the best times in the country all season long, but disaster struck in the NCAA Championships when a dropped baton kept the Horned Frogs off the victory platform.
The program reached its zenith in 2001. Only Lady Luck was unkind, as a dropped baton and a false start kept the Frogs from a national title, as they took runnerup honors in both the indoor and outdoor meets, missing the top spot by one point on each occasion. Kim Collins was a two-time NCAA individual champion, capturing both the 60 and 200 meters during the indoor season, and anchored the winning 4x1 relay team at the national outdoor meet. Darvis Patton notched seven All-America certificates in the sprints, relays and long jump. The Frogs showed their versatility as Eliud Njubi figured in the distance events and Abdul Rasheed and Jason Howard scored points in the triple jump. On the women's side, Monica Twum was a national finalist in the 60 and 100m dashes.
Although his energies are focused getting the Frogs ready for the national meet, Stratton has led TCU steadily up the ladder in the conference race. The men won the 2000 WAC indoor title, the first track conference championship in school history, then swept both the indoor and outdoor titles in 2001. Showing that it's not just a sprinters' school, the TCU women captured its first conference cross country title in 2000, while the Frogs had the individual conference cross country champion in both the men's and women's races. In their first competition in Conference USA in 2001-02, the Frogs repeated their sweep of the individual cross country titles, then the men captured both the indoor and outdoor track & field titles.
The 2003 season proved to be another satisfying season. The Flyin' Frog men captured the C-USA outdoor championship, its third straight conference title, while the women made significant strides with a pair of third place conference finishes during both track seasons, its best results in school history. Stratton's summer ended in Paris, as he coached former Frog standout Kim Collins to the world title in the 100 meter dash.
Stratton came to TCU after 10 years as head coach at the University of Texas at Arlington. During that decade, Stratton led the Mavericks to 12 Southland Conference indoor and outdoor team championships (nine men's and three women's titles). An impressive 27 UTA athletes earned All-America recognition during Stratton's tenure there. In all, he guided 11 athletes and a relay team to 132 berths in the NCAA Indoor Championships, and 25 athletes and three relay teams to 33 bids to the outdoor national meet. Perhaps the most notable athlete coached and recruited by Stratton at UTA was hurdler McClinton Neal, a member of the 1992 United States Summer Olympic team. Stratton earned Southland Coach of the Year honors 11 times in 10 years at UTA. He was inducted in the UTA Hall of Honor on September 23, 2000.
Prior to taking over at UTA, Stratton was an assistant coach at SMU during the Mustangs' most successful seasons. In 1983, the Mustangs claimed both the indoor and outdoor NCAA national team titles. Stratton's coaching career began in the Texas high school ranks where, from 1969 to 1979, he headed the programs at Corpus Christi King, Austin Westlake and Richardson High.
A native of Breckenridge, Texas, Stratton achieved All-America status as a sprinter at Abilene Christian University. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from Abilene Christian in 1969, then earned his Master's degree from Southwest Texas State in 1974.