(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 third season at Alabama serving as the Crimson Tide's sprints and hurdles coach. In two 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.
After a promising start in 2012 molding an inexperience crop of talented youngsters, Kane's sprinters began making an impact on the SEC and national levels in 2013. Led by SEC outdoor 100-meter champion Diondre Batson, the Alabama sprint corps announced the Tide's return to national prominence by keying a run 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 seconds. 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 outings 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 clocked 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 last season. Batson also excelled in his debut indoor season, earning All-America honors in the 200 meters.
That impact in 2013 wasn't limited to the men's side of the ledger. Yanique Malcolm showed dramatic improvement into one of the top 800-meter runners in Alabama history and 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 developed into one of the region's top 800-meter athletes in Tuscaloosa and could be primed for a breakout year in 2014. Those accomplishments earned Kane the 2013 USTFCCCA South Region Assistant Coach of the Year honor.
In 2011 head coach Dan Waters made Kane the first hire of his staff at Alabama. Kane came to Tuscaloosa after two seasons in the same role with the University of Oklahoma men's team.
"The reason why Matt is one of my first hires is that I truly believe in his coaching ability," Waters said. "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 make great athletes spectacular. That's what we need to compete in the SEC and he is as competitive of a person as you can imagine. He's exactly what we're looking for."
In his first season with the Sooners, Kane 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 before finishing second in the 100 meters at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Salaam was also the NCAA indoor champion in the 200 meters and owned the third-fastest time in the world.
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 and win a Big 12 title by joining Salaam who won the Big 12 crown in the 60 meters before breaking the OU record in the outdoor 200 meters. Salaam earned All-America honors in both the indoor and outdoor 200 before doing so in the 100 meters. Both of Kane's 2010 relays qualified for the 2010 NCAA Outdoor Championships as did 400-meter hurdler Eric Bailey. Kane also placed his 4x400 relay along with hurdler Malcolm Anderson in the NCAA Indoor Championships.
Previously, Kane coached at Barton County Community College in Kansas where he was the head men's and women's coach for three years and was named the 2009 NJCAA National Men's Coach of the Year. The Coach of the Year honor was just one of an extensive list of coaching achievements during his time at Barton County, both on the junior college and international level.
Under Kane's guidance, three Barton athletes qualified for the finals at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin including 110-meter hurdles gold medalist Ryan Brathwaite and 200-meter silver medalist Alonso Edward. Kane was the head coach for Panama at the 2009 World Championships. In 2008, two of his athletes advanced to the semifinals of the 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. He is a native of Stillwater, Okla. He and his wife, Diana, have a son, Lucas.