(RollTide.com contributor Pete LaFleur will be profiling four of Alabama's qualifiers in the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Track Championships - Diondre Batson, Elias Hakansson, Alexis Paine and Krystle Schade - over the next few days.)
Widely regarded as one of the top sprints coaches in the country, Matt Kane is in his fourth season at Alabama in 2015, serving as the Crimson Tide’s sprints and hurdles coach. In three years at Alabama, Kane has overseen a complete transformation of the sprint corps, molding the young group into one of college track’s deepest and best.
Kane's Crimson Tide sprinters made their mark nationally during the 2014 season. Remona Burchell set the standard for the women's squad winning the 60-meter title at the NCAA indoor meet, as well as the 100-meter title at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Burchell's 60-meter title was the first indoor title for an Alabama woman in any event since 1989. The junior also broke a 28-year- old Alabama school record in the 100 meters en route to qualifying for the national championships at the NCAA East Preliminary meet. The 4x100-meter squad finished sixth at the NCAA meet, anchored by Burchell.
Diondre Batson captured the 200-meter title at the NCAA indoor meet in a time of 20:32, while simultaniasly breaking the Alabama school record. Batson returned to the track the next day to take third in the 60-meter race. Throughtout the 2014 indoor season, Batson posted five of the 10 best times in Alabama history, as well as four of the top 10 best 60-meter times.
The 2013 season saw the Tide's return to national prominence. Led by SEC outdoor 100-meter champion Diondre Batson, the Alabama sprint corps ran to an 11th-place team finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. At that meet, Alabama’s 4x100-meter relay crew of Batson, Alex Sanders, Akeem Haynes and Dushane Farrier posted the two fastest relay performances in Alabama history. In the semi-finals, the quartet broke a 23-year-old record with a time of 38.78. Three days later, the foursome came within a whisker of winning the NCAA title in the event, finishing second in the relay in another school-record time of 38.54.
Over the course of the 2013 season, Batson earned SEC and national Athlete of the Week honors with impressive showings in the 100-meter dash, as he posted seven of the 10 best 100-meter times in Alabama history – topped by a 10.01 clocking in the finals at the NCAA outdoor meet to earn a fourth-place finish. Batson also registered four of the 10 best 200-meter times in Alabama history in 2013, and the aforementioned 4x100 crew posted six of the 10 best times ever run by an Alabama unit. Batson also excelled in his debut indoor season, earning All-America honors in the 200 meters.
The impact in 2013 wasn’t limited to the men’s side of the ledger. Yanique Malcolm showed dramatic improvement by developing into one of the top 800-meter runners in Alabama history, while the 4x400-meter relay quartet of Shani Chandler, Malcolm, Dacia Mays and Joy Maneice-Marbury posted the 10th-fastest 4x400-meter relay time in Crimson Tide history. Malcolm has emerged as one of the region’s top 800-meter athletes and could be primed for a breakout year in 2014. Those accomplishments helped earn Kane the 2013 USTFCCCA South Region Assistant Coach of the Year honor.
Dan Waters made Kane the first hire of his staff at Alabama, shortly after taking over the Tide program in 2011. Kane came to Tuscaloosa following two seasons in the same role with the University of Oklahoma men’s team.
“The reason why Matt was one of my first hires is that I truly believe in his coaching ability,” says Waters. “If you look at the numbers, the improvement of the student-athletes he’s worked with has been phenomenal. There’s a wealth of experience and knowledge there that he has used to transform great athletes into spectacular performers. That’s what we need to compete in the SEC and he is as competitive of a person as you can imagine. A coach like Matt is exactly what we’re looking for.”
In his first season with the Sooners, Kane’s sprint crew produced an NCAA champion, five All-Americans, three Big 12 titles and three program records. For his efforts, Kane was named the USTFCCCA Midwest Region Assistant Coach of the Year. One of his star pupils, Mookie Salaam, was named the Big 12 Track & Field Athlete of the Year after sweeping the 100 and 200 meters while running a leg on OU’s 4x100-meter relay team at the Big 12 Championships. Salaam – who later finished second in the 100 meters at the NCAA Outdoor Championships – also was the NCAA indoor champion in the 200 meters and owned the third-fastest 200 time in the world.
Oklahoma’s Ronnie Ash claimed the 2010 NCAA title in the indoor 60-meter hurdles while winning Big 12 titles and setting program records in both the 60 and 110-meter hurdles. Ash was one of two Kane-coached athletes to break a program record in 2010 while also winning a Big 12 title, joining Salaam who won the Big 12 crown in the 60 meters and broke the OU record in the outdoor 200 meters. Salaam earned All-America honors in both the indoor and outdoor 200, plus the 100 meters. Both of Kane’s 2010 relay teams qualified for the 2010 NCAA Outdoor Championships, as did 400-meter hurdler Eric Bailey. Kane’s a4x400 relay unit and hurdler Malcolm Anderson earlier earned entry into the 2010 NCAA Indoor Championships.
Kane previously had coached at Barton County Community College in Kansas, where he was the head men’s and women’s track and field coach for three years and was named the 2009 NJCAA National Men’s Coach of the Year. The coach-of-the-year honor was part of an extensive list of coaching achievements, both on the junior college and international level, during his time at Barton County.
Under Kane’s guidance, three Barton athletes qualified for the finals at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, most notably 110-meter hurdles gold medalist Ryan Brathwaite and 200-meter silver medalist Alonso Edward. Kane – who served as the head coach for Panama at the 2009 World Championships – saw two of his athletes advanced to the semifinals of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He also served as Panama’s head coach for the 2009 South American Championships.
Kane began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at the University of Central Oklahoma, where he graduated with a degree in community health in 1999. A native of Stillwater, Okla., Kane and his wife, Diana, have a son, Lucas, and a daughter, Emily.