Unsung heroes preparing Eagles for SAC Championships

Sarah Sharp
Sarah Sharp

Live Scoring

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – As the Carson-Newman men and women's track and field teams prepare for the South Atlantic Conference Championships this weekend in Hickory, N.C., the work of the unsung heroes, or assistant coaches, will be on full display as the Eagles compete for the conference title.

The Eagles have found high levels of success throughout the 2015 season. The several accolades received thus far are not only a result of the hard work of each and every athlete, but the coaching staff that stands behind them and humbly watches their teachings unfold each and every weekend as well.

"To be successful as a track and field program with all of the different specialties you must work hard to gather many special people who work with you, [and] we are so blessed to have so many quality people helping," coach David Needs said.

The track and field coaching staff consists of a wide variety of people from all over the globe.

Tony Parrilla cross country head coach and assistant track and field coach is a two-time member of the World Championship team for Track and Field (1993 and 1995). He also won four NCAA titles in his collegiate career

"Tony gives us boundless energy and a wealth of knowledge as a former world class athlete who communicates and teaches at a level where our athletes see from him a strong heart who cares about their success," Needs said of Parrilla.

Tyler Stepp, assistant coach and jump coach is an East Tennessee State University graduate, is in his first year on Mossy Creek. Stepp was a two-time high school Nike All-American in high jump, and earned second-team All-American honors from the United States Track and Field Cross Country Coaches Assoiciation as a Buc his junior and senior seasons. He also qualified for the U.S. Track and Field Championships in 2013.

"Stepp has transitioned so well to being an amazing technical coach – who emphasizes the smallest details," Needs said. Stepp was also named USTFCCCA Southeast Region Indoor Assistant Coach of the Year this year.

Kristen Campbell, former Carson-Newman track and field multi-athlete is "the kind of coach who knows the buttons to push to get the most out of an individual. She is that person that keeps the team on task and operating as it should." Needs said.

 Jeff Brandenburg is a former All-American and is in the Western Michigan Hall of Fame as a thrower.

"Jeff is committed to teaching and bring[ing] his experience to our throwers." Needs said. Brandenburg has been a big help to senior Randall Freeman, who has also filled the roll of student coach in his senior season.

Mark Stepp is a former Carson-Newman hurdler and coach for nearby Jefferson County High School. Stepp is also the father of brothers Tanner and Tyler Stepp.

"Anyone who knows Mark knows that he has a passion for track and field. It was a no-brainer to [ask] him to be a part of what we are doing here," Needs said of Stepp. "Mark has been a part of what we are doing here for several years and we are blessed to have him as an official part of our staff now."

Roman Botcharnikov, assistant coach, and Sochi, Russia native, is a Central Missouri State graduate who began his pole vaulting career in Russia where he was able to achieve national status as an athlete in the late 1980s. He has coached several All-Americans, American Record Holder, World Champion, Olympic Silver Medalist, multiple National Champion and Pole Vault Hall of Fame inductee - Lawrence Johnson, and influenced several other well-known track and field athletes from across the world.

"Roman has a resume that speaks for itself and I can't wait to see how it helps all of our pole vaulters be successful in the future," Needs said.

With such a broad-spectrum of coaches, it's no wonder the Carson-Newman track and field program continues to find success in past years and in the current 2015 season. The season has not yet come to an end and already they have countless athletes who have earbed SAC Athlete of the Week accolades, an All-American, and two athletes headed to the 120th Annual Penn Relays.

The SAC Championships will be held on the campus of Lenior-Rhyne University at Irwin Belk Track. The Eagles and their coaches will compete in various events on Friday and Saturday. Full results and a recap of each day's events will be available on cneagles.com and on Twitter, @cnathletics.