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App State Director of Track & Field/Cross Country Damion McLean announced the hiring of Brad Herbster as the Mountaineers’ men’s distance coach and Annie Richards as the women’s distance coach on Tuesday.
Herbster, who will be taking over the men’s cross country and distance track & field duties, has guided teams to success throughout his career, making stops at Charlotte, Clemson, Texas, and most recently, the University of Pittsburgh.
Richards will take over the women’s cross country and distance track & field duties after serving stints on the staffs at highly successful distance programs New Mexico and Oregon.
Herbster returns to the Carolinas where he spent time as both a student-athlete and coach early in his career before successful stints as the distance coach at Texas and Pitt over the last decade.
“Brad is a very experienced coach who knows how to recruit, coach and develop student-athletes,” McLean said. “We are confident he will raise the bar for our men’s program to the next level.”
“I’m really looking forward to the opportunity at App State,” Herbster said. “The commitment of everyone involved to elevate the distance program is exciting. App State has a clear vision of what they want the distance program to become under the leadership of Coach McLean and Doug Gillin. Boone, North Carolina is a tremendous running community with access to some of the best training grounds in the United States. A brand new outdoor track and field facility that opened this spring shows that commitment to student-athlete success. I look forward to helping Coach McLean build a powerful program for years to come.”
Herbster led the distance program with the Pitt Panthers since 2018. During the 2022 season, Herbster guided Luke Henseler and Jack Miller to appearances at the NCAA Cross Country Championships – the first appearances by the Panthers at the championship meet since 1994 – and guided the women’s team to a 10th-place finish at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional. In addition to a successful season on the course and track, 15 Panthers excelled in the classroom and were named to the USTFCCCA All-Academic Team.
Herbster spent five seasons as the leader of both the men’s and women’s distance programs at the University of Texas, where he led his student-athletes to eight individual Big 12 Conference titles, 12 conference runner-up finishes, seven USTFCCCA All-America performances – including four first-teamers – as well as an individual NCAA championship.
Coaching the distance athletes at Clemson from 2009-13, he guided the Tigers to ACC Championship titles in women’s indoor and outdoor track & field each of the years he was on staff. In his time with the Tigers, the women’s team tallied eight consecutive NCAA top-20 finishes, culminating with a pair of top-five finishes in 2012 and two top-10 finishes in 2013.
From 2002-09, Herbster coached at Charlotte, guiding the Miners to four consecutive women’s Atlantic-10 championships and three men’s A-10 team championships. Herbster spent four years as a high school coach at North Mecklenburg High School and Hopewell High School, both in North Carolina, before breaking through at the collegiate level.
Herbster earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Carolina in 1991 and competed for the cross country and track & field team. As a student-athlete, he was a three-time all-conference honoree and he remains ranked fifth in the Gamecocks’ all-time list for the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 9:08.57.
Richards joins the Mountaineers after serving as the assistant distance/middle distance coach at New Mexico in 2022.
“It’s very exciting for us to add Annie to our coaching staff,” said McLean. “She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience from an elite level to assist our women’s distance runners. I am looking forward to seeing our program develop under her.
“I am honored to have this opportunity to coach the women’s distance program at Appalachian State,” said Richards. “Boone is a beautiful place to live, study, and chase goals on the trails and track. I look forward to joining this community and recruiting the next generation of Mountaineers. I am grateful for the confidence that Damion McLean and Doug Gillin have in me, and I am excited to contribute to our holistic team vision.”
While with the Lobos during the 2022 season, Richards assisted the women’s team to a national runner-up finish at the NCAA Cross Country Championships. Each of the Lobos’ top five finishers earned All-America honors as they crossed the line within 11.1 seconds of one another between the 22nd and 40th places in what was a remarkable team effort.
New Mexico’s women’s team also clinched first while the men finished ninth in the team standings at the NCAA Mountain Regional. The women clinched the Mountain West Conference title, while the men earned a sixth-place finish.
Prior to her time at New Mexico, Richards spent two years as a volunteer assistant coach at the University of Oregon. While with the Ducks, she worked with both men’s and women’s distance programs and helped them to top-25 NCAA team finishes in women’s cross country (24th in 2021), men’s indoor track & field (1st in 2021, 9th in 2022), men’s outdoor track & field (2nd in 2021, T-25th in 2022), women’s indoor track & field (15th in 2021, T-11th in 2022) and women’s outdoor track & field (T-11th in 2021, 11th in 2022).
She has also served as a coach with Nike’s Smoky Mountain Running Camp in Asheville, N.C.
Richards, a native of Eugene, Ore., is a graduate of the University of Arizona, where she earned a degree in government and public service while competing on the cross country and track & field team.
The Mountaineers will begin the 2023 cross country season at home with the Sept. 1 Firetower Project Run in Boone.