Linh Nguyen enters his sixth season as head coach of UNCG’s cross country and indoor track and field teams while he is in his seventh year at the helm of the Spartans’ outdoor track and field teams. Additionally, Nguyen is in his 12th year overall with the Spartans, having served as an assistant coach from 2001-06.
Nguyen was named the SoCon Cross Country Coach of the Year after leading both the men’s and women’s programs to conference titles. The Spartan men dominated their competition last year by claiming five of the first 11 spots at the SoCon meet. They tallied a team score of 26, the lowest (and therefore best) by any team in the event in 13 years. The Spartans' margin of victory of 47 points was the largest by any squad in 20 years.
The UNCG Women won last year’s event with a total score of 35, which was the best by any program in seven years. The Spartans won the event by 45 points, which represented a radical departure from form in the SoCon meet, the previous eight of which had been decided by a total of 42 points.
Nguyen coached both SoCon Runners of the Year in 2011 as Paul Chelimo picked up top honors on the men’s side and Ashley Schnell claimed honors on the women’s side for the second straight year. Additionally, Paul Katam was named the league Freshman of the Year on the men’s side. The Spartans placed nine members on the All-SoCon teams last year, a program record.
Chelimo picked up All-America honors at the NCAA Cross Country Championships, placing 13th in the race to become the first runner in school history to earn All-America honors.
Nguyen continued the Spartans’ success on the track as Chelimo and Schnell won the indoor mile races at the SoCon championship. In outdoor track, the Spartans took their success even farther as both Chelimo and Katam won their races at the NCAA Regional in the 5,000-meters and 10,000-meters, respectively. Both runners would go on to earn All-America honors at the national championships with Chelimo finishing as the national runner-up in his event.
Additionally, Schnell was awarded the SoCon and NCAA postgraduate scholarships while also being nominated for the NCAA Woman of the Year. She was named to the Capital One Academic All-America Second Team by CoSIDA.
In 2010-11, Nguyen saw six student-athletes earn 12 All-SoCon honors, including four Southern Conference titles and two who advanced to NCAA Regionals. The year started off great as Schnell became the first runner in school history to win the Southern Conference title in cross country and was also named the SoCon Women’s Runner of the Year. She would also go on to earn All-Region honors, a first in school history.
Shaina Sumney was also named first-team All-SoCon in cross country and to helped lead her team to then school-best third place finish. The men’s team also had a then school-best second place finish as Joey Thompson was runner-up at the SoCon Championship and earned first-team honors along with Mike Koech.
The Spartans’ carried that momentum into the track & field season as Schnell captured the 3,000-meter title at the SoCon Indoor Track & Field Championships, becoming the first-ever women’s runner in school history to accomplish that goal. Nguyen’s team continued its success with a SoCon title in the women’s distance medley relay, as well. On the men’s side, Kenny Hinman was tabbed to the SoCon All-Freshman Team in the 3,000 and 5,000 meters, while Katam earned the same distinction in the 5,000 meters.
UNCG would continue its impressive year during the outdoor season when Schnell won the 1,500-meter SoCon title and advanced to the NCAA Regionals in the 5,000 meters, becoming the first-ever female in school history to do that. Chelsea and Shaina Sumney were named All-SoCon in the 5,000 meters after finishing second and third in the event, respectively.
On the men’s team, Katam qualified for the NCAA Regionals in the 10,000 meters and was just one spot away from advancing to nationals.
The Spartans carried that momentum into the indoor track & field season in 2010 as Koech and Thompson once again led the way. Thompson earned All-SoCon honors in the 3,000 meters for the second time in as many years in the event as he was edged out and finished in second place. He was also the runner-up in the mile to earn All-SoCon honors in that event. Koech was named to the SoCon All-Freshman Team in the 5,000 meters, as he set a new school record in the race.
In the outdoor season, UNCG continued to rack up Southern Conference awards. Thompson earned runner-up honors once again, this time in the 1,500 meters, to earn All-SoCon honors. Senior TJ Wyatt also performed well at the SoCon Championships as he was named All-SoCon in the 800 meters after finishing in second place. Taylor Day was named to the SoCon All-Freshman Team in the 1,500 meters, as well. On the women’s side, Shaina Sumney was also named to the SoCon All-Freshman Team in the 1,500 meters.
In the 2008-09 season, Spartans Jermaine Coore and Sherrika Jordan were named All-SoCon at the Southern Conference Cross Country Championships. In indoor, Thompson broke the school record in the 3,000 meters and earned All-SoCon honors in the event too. Taylor Hurst was named All-SoCon in the 800 meters and Kerry Hartman was named all-freshman in the mile. During the outdoor season, Thompson was named All-SoCon in the 1,500 meters and AJ Savoia earned All-SoCon honors in the 3,000 meter steeplechase. TJ Wyatt was also named All-SoCon in the 800 meters after earning runner-up honors.
In 2007-08, Sherrika Jordan became the seventh runner in UNCG women's cross country history to run sub-23:00 in the 6,000-meters. Jordan ran 22:58.65 at the NCAA Southeast Regionals, which was the eighth-fastest time in UNCG history. The 2008 indoor season saw four men's runners earn All-SoCon honors, including the men's distance medley relay team earning All-SoCon honors for the fourth time in five seasons. Jess Weber broke the school record in the 800 meters and Josh Wyatt recorded a new record at the 5,000 meters. During outdoor, the men saw Clyne (800m) and AJ Savoia (3,000m steeplechase) race their way to All-SoCon distinctions, earning UNCG's first All-SoCon honors for outdoor in two years. For the women, Weber concluded her career by setting a new record in the 800 meters in her final meet of the season, clocking 2:17.81 at the Duke Asics Twilight and becoming just the second Spartan in program history to run sub-2:20 in the 800 meters.
In his first season as head coach of the cross country teams, the men posted their highest finish at the SoCon Championship meet, placing third out of 11 teams. Individually, Josh Wyatt and Nick Vaccaro finished fifth and eighth, respectively, garnering All-SoCon honors and becoming the first set of Spartans to receive cross country All-SoCon honors in the same season. For the women, Jess Weber and Sherrika Jordan each registered a 6K time that ranked among UNCG's top-25 times.
During the 2007 indoor season, Jeff Williams won his third-straight title in the 800 meters en route to earning All-SoCon status. The distance medley relay team of Vaccaro, Terry Wyatt, Williams and Xavier Rutz also earned All-Son honors with a second-place finish at the SoCon Championships.
Nguyen was named head coach of the Spartans at the start of the 2006 outdoor season. In his inaugural season at the helm, both Jeff Williams (800 meters) and Charles Jones (triple jump) qualified for the NCAA East Regionals.
Prior to being named head coach, Nguyen served as an assistant
coach and as a volunteer assistant coach for the Spartans. In his
four years as an assistant, Nguyen produced 24 All-Conference
honorees, one NCAA Regional qualifier and one NCAA National
participant. Charles Jones became UNCG's first NCAA Regional and
National qualifier in 2005. As a volunteer assistant, Nguyen
coached Heidi (Sloop) Pinkerton to All-SoCon cross country status
Prior to UNCG, Nguyen was a volunteer assistant coach at Lynchburg College, his alma mater, for one season. During the 2000-01 school year, the Hornets swept the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) titles in cross country, indoor and outdoor.
Nguyen was an eight-time All-ODAC selection. He led Lynchburg to a pair of top-five finishes at the NCAA South/Southeast Regional Cross Country meet, including one third-place finish. He also took the Hornets to a conference title in 1999, while capturing ODAC Runner of the Year Honors.
Nguyen, a native of East Hampton, N.Y., graduated from Lynchburg College in 2000 with his bachelor's degree in sports medicine. He received his master's in exercise physiology from UNCG in 2007.
Nguyen and his wife, Christina, reside in Greensboro, with their son Khoi.
Michelle Chewens enters her first year as assistant coach with
the UNCG cross country and track and field programs.
Chewens, a four- year letterwinner in both track and field and cross county, spent last season as a volunteer assistant coach for the Spartans during the track and field seasons. She concluded her running career last fall with the cross country team running a season-best 6,000-meter time of 24:56 in the Panorama Farms Invite and a 5,000-meter season-best at the Southern Conference championships in a time of 19:03.
Chad Pearson enters his first season as an assistant coach with the UNCG cross country and track and field programs.
Pearson joins the Spartans after spending time as a volunteer assistant coach at Charlotte (2012) and North Carolina State (2010-11). He also was the graduate assistant coach at North Carolina State from 2004-2006 working with both the cross country and track and field programs.
Pearson was a standout at NC State where he was a three-time NCAA All-America honoree in cross country and track and field. He helped the Wolfpack win back-to-back ACC cross country team championships as well as earning Academic All-America honors during his career. He was a United States Olympic Trials track and field qualifier and was the United States 10,000-meter Road National Champion. Additionally, he was a member of the United States Junior National Cross Country Tram.