May 31, 2017
There’s quite an illustrious book of great performances when it comes to Georgia Tech Track and Field jumping and hurdling history.
For the last 18 years, that history has been a matter of being on the right page – jumps and hurdles coach Nat Page.
Since arriving on the Flats in 1996, Georgia Tech athletes specializing in those events have acquired 40 ACC titles, had 41 All-Americans and took home four national titles. They’ve also had plenty of representation at the NCAA Championships. Tech has a streak in which at least one male or female athlete under Page has made it to the NCAA Championships since 2004. At least one member of the women’s track team’s jumping or hurdling has made it seven times in the last eight years.
It’s quite a run — not that Page, who has quite the resume himself, is keeping track.
“I don’t keep track of it but at one point it was actually pretty good,” said Page, a five-time All-American, the 1979 NCAA Champion in the high jump while at Missouri, and a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Team, who also has twice coached for the U.S. at the Pan Am Games, was head coach for the 2014 U.S. World Indoor Championship team and will be an assistant at the upcoming World Outdoor Championships “I had a nice streak with the men and then on the women’s side, but years-wise I don’t know.”
Sophomore Jeanine Williams represents the latest class and, next week, will put her talent to the test in the 100 meter hurdles at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, when she participates in the NCAA Track and Field Outdoor Championships. Williams will attempt to become the school’s first female national champion since Shantia Moss won the 60 meter indoors a decade ago and become only the second lady Jacket to win an outdoor championship since Chaunte Howard-Lowe won the high jump in 2004.
Williams punched her ticket to the Pacific Northwest by posting the fourth-best time in Saturday’s NCAA East Preliminaries (13.09) in the women’s 100m hurdles.
Page is very excited about the Kingston, Jamaica native’s growth.
“Anytime I can get somebody to the NCAA Championships it’s always exciting,” he said. “It’s very exciting for me to watch one of our athletes, Jeanine, progress as fast as she has to where she is right now.
“What’s impressed me the most is how easily she has adapted to the training and to certain parts of the technique of hurdling,” he added. “Technically, for hurdling, you want to get back down to the ground as fast as you possibly can. That requires total efficiency. So learning how to be as efficient as possible over the top of the hurdle so she can get back down to the ground and start running to the next hurdle, that has impressed me a great deal and just her body actions. That requires certain movements and those she’s starting to get at this point and they’re getting better and better.”
Getting better and better has been the rule under Page. His success stories include two-time Olympic high jumper Tisha Waller, four-time Olympic high jumper Chaunte Howard-Lowe, ACC Outdoor triple jump champion Jhanelle McLeod, two-time All-ACC long- and triple jumper Julienne McKee, and last year’s freshman sensation, Bria Matthews on the women’s side and two-time All-America triple jumper Jonathan Gardner, 100-meter hurdler Terrence Trammell, 400-meter intermediate hurdler Angelo Taylor, and hurdler, long- and triple-jumper Alphonso Jordan. In all, he’s coached nine World Championship Team participants and five Olympians.
He’s going to have the chance to add to his resume, when he serves as an assistant at the USATF National Championships, taking place June 22-25 in Sacramento, Calif., on the campus of Sacramento State.
It’s a special thrill to be able to coach such tremendous talent but Page admits that coaching on the national level allows him to get tips as well as he gives them.
“I’ve been on a few teams and I’ve been unbelievably happy to be a part of that but also being around those type of athletes I’ve learned a lot,” Page said. “I go to practice sessions, I watch, I talk to the coaches from the U.S. and coaches from all over the world, see different views and philosophies and aspects on the events that I actually work with.”
Page will bank all that information and bring it back to Atlanta, where he has big plans to continue his streak of NCAA Championship-caliber competitors. That includes enhancing Williams’ career arc and getting Matthews back on track — and on the track, period, following a year which she sat out with a stress reaction in her leg.
“Bria Matthews, that’s a good starting point. She’s one of our good collegiate long jumpers. She’s one of our better collegiate triple jumpers,” he said. “Then, with Jeanine Williams, at our home meet she actually hit the World Championship qualifying standard, which means that if she goes to her National Trials and places top three, she would be able to go to the World Championships. So that’s another really good starting point for me to have somebody to go to the Olympic Games from Georgia Tech and represent the U.S. or their country.”