Good news, bad news collide for Clemson track & field program

Tiger women ranked No. 1 in the nation on the same day that Lawrence Johnson resigned as program director

Clemson Track & Field - April Sinkler and Lawrence Johnson

Photo by Mark Crammer

Clemson Track & Field - April Sinkler and Lawrence Johnson

No. 1 in the nation, but without a head coach.

That's the unusual and undesirable situation the Clemson women's track team finds itself in, heading into its second meet of the indoor season on Friday at the Tigers' indoor facility.

On the day the Clemson women were ranked No. 1 in the preseason USATFCCA indoor poll, coach Lawrence Johnson resigned. Clemson did not elaborate on a reason for the parting of ways with the six-time ACC coach of the year.

Philip Sikes, Clemson's associate sports information director who handles track and field as well as men's basketball, told the website Flotrack.org Tuesday evening that "This is an in-house personnel matter, and we won't be commenting any further on it."

Clemson associate athletic director and sports information director Tim Bourret confirmed Wednesday morning that Clemson will have no additional comment.

Flotrack.org, citing unnamed sources, reported Tuesday that Johnson's resignation had to do with "a compliance issue possibly more on the men's side" of the program.

Shawn Cobey, a member of Johnson's staff for the past four seasons, has been named interim director of the track and field program. The Clemson track & field vacancy is expected to attract a national field of candidates.

Johnson led the Clemson women to three consecutive indoor/outdoor season sweeps at ACC championship meets, and is a six-time Southeast Region coach of the year. The former Arkansas star built his coaching resume training a string of elite hurdlers at Virginia Tech before being named as Clemson's first Director of Track & Field, taking over both the men's and women's programs.

While the Clemson women's program has been nationally competitive under Johnson, the men's program, one of the ACC's dominant programs under former coach Bob Pollock, has enjoyed only moderate success.

On Tuesday, the Clemson women's team - which finished fifth at last year's NCAA indoor meet - was ranked No. 1 by the sport's coaches organization. Kansas holds the No. 2 spot, followed by defending national champion Oregon, LSU and Florida.

The Clemson women earned their No. 1 preseason ranking based primarily on strength and depth in sprints and hurdles.

Brianna Rollins and Bridgette Owens are ranked No. 1 and 2 in the 60-meter hurdles, while Keni Harrison is 12th; Marlena Wesh is ranked second in the 400 meters and 12th in the 200; Dezerea Bryant is ranked eighth in the 200, while Stormy Kendrick is 15th.

Kendrick holds the No. 5 spot in the 60 meters, while Jasmine Edgerson is ninth.

Jasmine Brunson is ranked fourth in the triple jump, Whitney Fountain is fifth in the pentathlon, and Brittney Waller is 11th in the weight throw.

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