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Since taking over the reins of the men's and women's track and field programs at his alma mater in 1996, John Sauerhage has led the Mavericks to an astounding 25 team conference championships between the indoor, outdoor and cross country seasons.
His 2013-14 men's squad claimed the first "triple crown" in school history, bursting into the Sun Belt Conference by winning all three titles in the school's inaugural year. The cross country squad placed five runners among the top seven in the standings, while the indoor team smashed a 20-year-old record with 185 points in the championship.
In addition, Clayton Vaughn became the first athlete in school history to earn All-America honors in two individual events, as he placed sixth in the 100 meters and eighth in the 200 meters at the 2014 NCAA Outdoor Championships.
This past season, he collected three SBC Coach of the Year awards, giving him 25 league honors for his career. In 2013, he was recognized for his achievements by being the only coach named to the Southland Conference's All-Time Indoor Track & Field Honor Roll on both the men's and women's side. The list honored the greatest athletes and coaches in the league's first 50 years.
Sauerhage's success began immediately, as his teams claimed league championships in women's indoor, men's indoor and men's outdoor track in his first season. The Mavericks followed that up by winning four conference titles (men's indoor, men's outdoor, women's indoor and women's cross country) in year two.
In year three, Sauerhage accomplished something that had never been achieved in school history when he led the UTA women to the "triple crown," winning the cross country, indoor and outdoor conference championships. The Maverick women accomplished the feat a second time in 2001.
Fast forward to the present and it is obvious that UTA's track and field success has been sustained. In 2012-13, Sauerhage led the Maverick men to the Western Athletic Conference cross country championship and league runner-up showings in men's indoor and women's outdoor track. In 2012, the men's indoor track team placed 26th in the nation, the third-best showing by any school without a Division I football program.
In 2007, Sauerhage earned his biggest individual accolade when the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) named him the Division I Outdoor Track and Field Men's South Central District Coach of the Year. He won the award after guiding the men's team to its first SLC outdoor team title in more than a decade with a one-point win over UTSA.
Sauerhage's entire resume is impressive. The women's indoor team claimed Southland Conference titles in each of his first six seasons, and he was named SLC Women's Indoor Track Coach of the Year each time in that stretch. From 1998-2001, he accumulated more 10 conference titles -- four in women's outdoor, four in men's indoor and two in men's outdoor.
In addition, Sauerhage has coached the men's cross country team to three conference championships, including two straight, and the women's cross country team to three conference titles, including back-to-back titles in 2001-02. The Southland Conference named him Cross Country Coach of the Year three times.
Sauerhage has coached 29 athletes who have received All-America honors and in 2014 had a pair of individuals, Clayton Vaughn (100m, 200m) and Emil Blomberg (steeplechase), and the 4x100 relay team reach the NCAA Outdoor Championships. During the indoor season, Vaughn had the nation's fastest 60-meter time (6.55) but was injured and unable to compete at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
Three athletes, Romain Martin (heptathlon), Bozidar Antunovic (shot put) and Vaughn (60m), snared All-America mention at the 2013 NCAA Indoor Championships. Martin then completed his brilliant career with a sixth-place landing in the decathlon at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, giving him his sixth All-American honor in a multi-event competition.
In the 2012 outdoor season, Martin finished as runner up in the decathlon, earning First-Team All-America accolades for the second straight year and registering the highest placement by a UTA athlete at an NCAA meet since McClinton Neal won the 1991 crown in the 400-meter hurdles. As a result, the team finished 33rd nationally.
Since 1989, Sauerhage has coached 10 athletes to individual conference championships in cross country. UTA athletes have also won more than 80 league track titles in mid-distance and distance events ranging from the 800m to the 10000m.
UTA athletes have also performed on the highest levels of international competition. Former athletes Jared Connaughton (for Canada in 2008 and 2012), Takeshi Fujiwara (for El Salvador in 2004) and Elston Cawley (for Jamaica in 1996) competed in the Olympics. Sauerhage has also coached five athletes who have earned trips to the IAAF World Championships.
His program has succeeded off the track as well. The USTFCCCA has honored the men's and women's teams and individuals numerous times over the years.
Sauerhage, a former UTA standout, returned to his alma mater in 1989 as an assistant coach, a role in which he filled for seven years prior to being named the head coach in the fall of 1996.
Sauerhage began his collegiate athletic career at LSU, where he placed sixth in the Southeastern Conference in the 1000-yard and indoor mile distances. He also ran a personal-best time of 3:45.36 in the 1500 meters.
In 1982, he transferred to UT Arlington. As a member of the UTA track and field team, Sauerhage won the SLC title in the mile and was a member of the school record-holding 6000-meter relay team. He ranks second in UTA history in the 1500 meters in both indoor and outdoor with times of 3:51.50 and 3:49.35, respectively.
As a prep, Sauerhage was a six-time state qualifier for Arlington High School, won the Class 5A state title in the mile run in 1979 and ran a personal-best 4:10.6 in the mile.
In addition to his collegiate experience, Sauerhage has also coached on the international level having served as the head coach of the El Salvadorian national team at the 2009 World University Games in Belgrade, Serbia.
Sauerhage graduated from UT Arlington in 1986 with a bachelor's degree in physical education. He received a master's degree in education from Louisiana-Monroe in 1988 while serving as a graduate assistant coach.
An avid fan of the St. Louis Cardinals, Sauerhage and his wife, Lisa, reside in Arlington.