Assistant Coach - Combined Events / Jumps
Aaron James was named assistant track and field coach for the University of South Alabama in October 2012, and is responsible for jumps and combined events for the Jaguars. James has a USATF Level I Coaching Certification.
During the 2016 season, James helped Kaitlyn Beans achieve second-team All-American honors afer advancing to the NCAA Outdoor Championships. In the past two years, Beans received honorable mention All-America accolades in the triple jump two years in a row. His efforts aided Beans in earning all-Sun Belt Conference honors in the event each of the last three years at the league's outdoor championships.
Jasmine Ferguson finish fifth in the pentathlon and heptathlon at the Sun Belt Conference Indoor and Outdoor Championships in 2014, respectively, while Cameron Stokes earned top-10 finishes in the men’s multi-events at both meets.
The previous year, Noelle Jones was champion in the pentathlon at the league indoor championships to earn all-Sun Belt honors — Leah Hixon just missed the same recognition after coming in fourth place in the event — while Garrett Schumacher was an all-conference honoree following a second-place result in the heptathlon. In the spring, Jones and Hixon finished first and second, respectively, in the heptathlon with Schumacher coming in second in the decathlon at the SBC Outdoor Championships as all three received all-conference accolades. Hixon and Schumacher placed fourth in their events at the 2013 Sun Belt Indoor Championships — Ashton Krause and Mikel Magnusson also scoring in the heptathlon for the men — with the former winning the heptathlon at the league outdoor meet later in the year and the latter finishing third to pick up all-conference honors.
James also helped Jaylon Holt score in the men's triple jump at both the SBC Indoor and Outdoor Championships in 2013 and '14.
He joined the staff from Athens Christian School in Athens, Ga., where he served as an assistant coach and teacher since 2006. He specialized in sprints, pole vault, and relays while also coaching women’s basketball and junior varsity football. He coached the boys’ and girls’ track and field teams to three Class A state championships each.
Prior to that, James was an assistant coach at Georgia from 1999-2006, where he handled recruiting and developed the training regime for pole vault and combined events. During his stint there, the Bulldog women’s team won the 2006 Southeastern Conference women’s indoor and outdoor championships. He coached three individual NCAA national champions, as well as 13 NCAA All-Americans and six academic All-Americans.
From 1994-99, James was an assistant at Clemson, where he performed similar duties. There he developed the training program for all field and multi-event student-athletes. While there, Clemson’s men’s team amassed five Atlantic Coast Conference championships – three indoor and two outdoor – and had two NCAA All-American student-athletes.
James began his coaching career as a pole vault coach in 1985 at Big Spring High School in Big Spring, Texas, in 1985. From there he went on to a graduate assistant position for men’s and women’s track at Baylor from 1986-87. After that, he served as assistant coach as well as assistant to the athletic director at Wayland Baptist in Plainview, Texas, for three years. His final stop before Clemson was a stint as assistant coach at Liberty in Lynchburg, Va., from 1989-94.
In addition to that coaching experience, James has also served as USATF Pole Vault Development Chair and has worked in camps and clinics. During his time at Georgia, he directed the UGA pole vault camps. He has also managed meets and has assisted in officiating and results.
Assistant Coach - Sprints / Hurdles / Relays / Jumps
Lyndell Farmer joined the University of South Alabama coaching staff from St. Paul’s Episcopal School, where he served as boys’ and girls’ assistant track coach since 2002. Farmer is a USA Track & Field (USTFA) Level I Certified Coach who has been awarded with U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) certification in Sprints and Hurdles.
A pair of Jaguars qualified for the NCAA East Regional Preliminary Round under his direction last season, with Mark Watts qualifying for the field in the 400 meters and Matthew Dillon participating in the 100-meter hurdles; the latter was an all-Sun Belt Conference honoree after placing second in the event at the league championships, while the former qualified for the finals. Ravaughn Pope was an all-Sun Belt performance after coming in third in the 60-meter hurdles at the conference indoor meet, with Rafael Scott and Watts just missing out on honors after placing fourth in the 60- and 400-meter dashes, respectively.
Farmer has also worked with 2012 Sun Belt Conference 200-meter dash champion Anton Graphenreed, who currently holds four USA top-five all-time records in both indoor and outdoor competition.
Farmer will once again have the opportunity to work alongside Brueske, as the two coached the St. Paul’s boys’ and girls’ teams to back-to-back state championships in 2006 and ‘07 during Brueske’s tenure with the Saints. After Brueske was hired by South Alabama, however, Farmer remained as the Saints’ girls’ team stretched their dominance through 2008, ’09 and ‘10 and the boys’ team also claimed state titles in 2008 and ‘10.
Prior to his tenure at St. Paul’s, Farmer served as boys’ and girls’ assistant track coach at Mobile Christian School, where he helped the Leopards’ men’s team to three straight state titles in 2000, ’01 and ’02.
While at Mobile Christian, Farmer coached eventual South Alabama decathlete Brandon Oliver, who was the 2004 Sun Belt Conference Indoor pole vault champion. Also, Jag decathlete and pole vaulter Ashton Krause was a product of Farmer’s at St. Paul’s. Krause’s younger brother, Taylor, also a Jag vaulter, received numerous accolades under the coaching tenure of Farmer.
Farmer, maintained a top-10 ranking in the U.S. and world as a masters track athlete for years, first studied electrical engineering at College of the Ozarks from 1970-72. He then served as an Avionics Systems Specialist at the United States Air Force School of Applied Aerospace Science in 1973 and ‘74. Next, he studied biomedical engineering at Arkansas-Little Rock, and he is currently pursuing a master’s degree in exercise science at USA.
Assistant Coach - Distance
David Barnett joined the USA as an assistant in October 2011 and was named Head Cross Country Coach/Assistant Track & Field Coach in December 2012.
Last fall, Barnett was named the Sun Belt Conference Men’s Cross Country Coach of the Year after guiding the Jaguars to the league title, their first since 2006. Christoph Graf was selected the Most Outstanding Performer after claimining the individual title, going on to earn all-region honors while qualifying for the NCAA Championships, with Michael Pienaar chosen the conference Freshman of the Year while making the all-region squad as well. Also, Patrick Rohr received all-Sun Belt honors for the third year in a row.
Graf and Rohr earned all-league honors in the 3,000-meter run at the SBC Indoor Championships after finising first and second, respectively in the race, with the former adding all-conference accolades following a second-place finish in the mile. The duo not only received all-SBC recognition during the outdoor season as well, both qualified for the NCAA East Region Preliminaries as well.
During the 2014 outdoor season, Barnett oversaw five all-SBC performers, including Freshman of the Year and top men's scorer Michael Pienaar. Pienaar recorded three all-conference efforts in the 1,500-meter run (first), 10,000-meter run (second) and 5,000-meter run (third). Also earning all-league accolades were Patrick Rohr (3,000-meter steeplechase) and Justin Housley (800-meter run), helping the men place third overall at the competition. Rohr's efforts qualified him for the NCAA preliminaries in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, while Pienaar qualified for the World Juniors Championships in the 10,000-meter run.
In indoor competition, Barnett helped guide Kristin Parry to a pair of school records in the 3,000- and 5,000-meter runs, the former coming in a gold-medal performance at the SBC Championships. In addition, Pienaar was named all-conference in the 5,000-meter run for the men.
The 2013 cross country teams saw a number of highlights under Barnett's watch. Three individuals -- Rohr, Joe Gratton and Parry -- were all-conference selections, while Nicole Durham was named the league's Women's Freshman of the Year. Additionally, the men's squad notched a third-place finish at the conference championships. Both teams excelled in the classroom as well,as the Lady Jags finished with a combined 3.76 grade point average, the best of the schools athletic programs and one of the highest GPAs in the country. Meanwhile, the men's squad was a close second among all sports on campus with a 3.54 overall GPA. Both teams were recipients of the USTFCCCA's All-Academic Awards.
During the 2013 indoor and outdoor seasons Barnett coached four Sun Belt All-Conference Team selections who combined for several top-five marks in the school record books. The women contributed to a third-place Sun Belt finish at the outdoor championship meet. During his first season as head cross country coach, the men's and women's teams finished third and fifth, respectively. The Jaguars had three all-Sun Belt Conference team selections as well as the Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year for women's cross country.The Lady Jaguars also had three of the top six freshmen finishers at this year's conference championship meet. Both the men's and women's teams were selected USTFCCCA all-Academic selections for the 2013 cross country season with university leading team G.P.A.'s of 3.76 for the women and 3.45 for the men.
Barnett joined the Jaguar coaching staff from Auburn, where he also served as an assistant. His responsibilities for the Tigers included assisting head track & field coach Ralph Spry and head cross country coach Mark Carroll with the development and specific training of distance competitors including several all-American and all-Southeastern Conference athletes, on-campus recruiting, budgeting, attending weekly NCAA compliance meetings and office management. Barnett also served as co-meet director for home track & field/cross country meets.
During his time with the Tiger program, the men’s indoor team recorded back-to-back top-20 finishes at the NCAA Championships, the women’s squad placed in the top 10 at the 2010 NCAA Indoor Championships and top 15 at the NCAA Outdoor Championships last season, and the men’s cross country squad was among the top 25 teams at the 2009 NCAA Championships.
The Oneonta, Ala., native was awarded a bachelor’s degree in exercise science by Auburn, and has previously obtained USA Track & Field (USTFA) Level I and II Coaching Certification. In his senior year at Oneonta High School, Barnett won the state 3A 1,600-meter run and then went on to compete at Wallace State Community College in Hanceville, Ala.
Graduate Assistant Coach - Combined Events / Jumps
Rachel Melum joined the University of South Alabama coaching staff in the fall of 2015 as a graduate assistant, and will help with Jaguar combined and jumping events.
She comes to USA from Minnesota, where she was a member of the Golden Gopher indoor and outdoor track and field teams for five years, serving as a team captain from 2012-15.
As a senior, Melum earned all-Big Ten Conference honors after finishing third in the javelin at the league outdoor championships; she qualified for the NCAA West Region Preliminary Round in the event, where she would come in 17th place. She earned five top-10 finishes in the javelin as a junior, including at the league meet, while in 2012 she won the discipline at the Hamline Invitational.
Melum also finished in the top 10 in the high jump on four occasions that spring — including a win at the Hamline Invite.
She competed in the high jump during the indoor campaign her first two years at UM as well, winning the MSU Open as a freshman while posting five top-10 results that winter.
Melum received her bachelor’s degree in kinesiology with a nutrition minor from Minnesota in 2015, and is currently working on a master’s degree in sport management at USA.
Assistant Coach - Sprints
Michael Cooley joined South Alabama after being hired shortly before the track and field 2016 season. He joins the program after a stint of multiple coaching positions at Blount High School, his alma mater.
The Prichard, Ala., native was the track and field co-head coach from 2009-2011. His other coaching experience includes being an assistant coach for football from 2012-2014 and women's basketball 2009-2016.
While with the Leopards, the program produced 67 Alabama High School Athletic Association track and field championship finalists. He helped lead program that broke 22 school records and had 26 high schoolers qualify for the 2011 ASHAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships – the most to qualify in school history.
Cooley lettered all four years at Alabama (2004-2008) as a sprinter for the Crimson Tide's track and field team. He anchored the second all-time 4x400m relay team in school history in 2006 and was an NCAA regional qualifier. Cooley earned All-American honors along with his teammates after placing fifth in the 4x400m relay in the 2006 NCAA Championships.
As a member of the Crimson Tide, Cooley also participated in the USATF Outdoor Track and Field Championships in 2006 as a member of Team USA at the 2006 North American-Caribbean American Championships in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
Cooley became one of Alabama's stand out sprinters throughout his collegiate career, becoming an 18-time scorer in indoor and outdoor SEC Conference Championships. He qualified for the 2008 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships as a senior and placed ninth in the 400m earning him All-American honors. Cooley's indoor 400m time of 46.53 set during his final year in Tuscaloosa still ranks fourth-overall in school history. He was also named to the 2008 SEC track and field community service team in his final year with the Tide.
The 2008 Alabama graduate earned his degree in history. Cooley attended Blount High School and was the 400m AHSAA Indoor 400m champion in 2003.