Big South Hall of Fame taps Coastal’s Campbell, Connie

conniecambpellTwo former Coastal Carolina track & field stalwarts have been elected for enshrinement in the Big South Conference Hall of Fame, it was announced Wednesday by the league.

Former Coastal Carolina women’s track & field All-American Amber Campbell and retired Chanticleer women’s track & field/cross country coach Alan Connie will comprise half of the 2016 Big South Conference Hall of Fame Class.  They will be officially inducted on June 2, 2016, during a special ceremony as part of the Big South’s annual spring meetings at the Marriott Resort in Hilton Head Island.

The Big South Hall of Fame, created in 2003 as part of the League’s 20th Anniversary celebration, now totals 61 former Big South Conference student-athletes, coaches, administrators and contributors with the addition of this year’s class.

Campbell (2000-04) was a 16-time Big South champion – seven titles in indoor track & field and nine crowns in outdoor track & field.  She won four individual titles in the indoor weight throw and three in the shot put, and was crowned champion four times in the discus.  Campbell also won the outdoor hammer throw three times and the shot put twice.  A five-time All-American, Campbell was voted the Big South’s Female Athlete of the Year in 2000-01 and 2002-03 — becoming the first two-time winner of the award.  Campbell was also voted the Most Outstanding Field Performer following six Big South Championships (three each in indoor and outdoor track & field).  She set the American collegiate record in the weight throw and hammer throw during her career with the Chanticleers.

Campbell still holds the Big South indoor weight throw record for overall (22.24m / 72-11.75) and the conference championship meet (21.64m / 72-00.75), established in 2004.  Her distance of 67.25m / 220-7 in the hammer throw at the 2004 NCAA Regionals remains the league’s all-time top performance as well.  The only three-time recipient of the Big South’s Women’s Track & Field Athlete of the Year award, Campbell still owns the school records in the weight, indoor shot put, outdoor shut put, discus and hammer throws.  She was voted to the Big South’s Women’s Track & Field All-Decade Team for 2000-09.

Since departing Coastal, Campbell has represented Team USA in several global competitions.  She is a two-time Olympian (2008, 2012) in the hammer throw, and is attempting to qualify for the 2016 Rio Games in the same event.  Her mark of 69.93m / 229-5 in the hammer during the 2012 Olympics was the best-ever Olympic performance by an American at the time.  She competed for the USA at the IAAF World Championships (2005, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015) in the hammer, and won Gold in the hammer at the 2015 North American, Central American and Caribbean Championships.

Campbell placed third in the 2011 Pan American Games and second in 2015, and is a three-time USATF outdoor champion in the hammer throw, winning in 2010 (71.52m / 234-8), 2012 (71.80m / 235-6) and 2015 (72.36m / 237-5).  She is a six-time USA indoor champion in the weight throw with gold in 2007 (24.54m / 80-6.25), 2008 (23.23m / 76-2.25), 2009 (24.43m / 80-2), 2010 (24.70m / 81-0.5), 2011 (24.18m / 79-5.25) and 2012 (24.78m / 81-3), and owns the third-farthest indoor weight throw in American history.  Campbell was inducted into the Coastal Carolina Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009.

Connie, who served as Coastal Carolina Women’s Track & Field/Cross Country Head Coach from 1986 through 2014, retired in 2014 as the Big South’s all-time leader with 13 women’s cross country championships and second overall in most championships across the three running sports with 28.  Coastal Carolina’s head coach from the inception of the cross country program in 1986 and indoor track & field program in 1998, Connie’s 28-year career at the helm featured 33 Big South Coach of the Year honors (13 in women’s cross country, 11 in women’s indoor track & field and nine in women’s outdoor track & field).  He was named the 2004 Southeast Region Coach of the Year for indoor track & field, and led the Chanticleers to the Big South women’s cross country/track & field “Triple Crown Championship” four times (2003-04, 2005-06, 2008-09 and 2013-14).

Connie’s women’s cross country runners won 15 individual Big South championships and was subsequently named the conference’s Runner of the Year, while a total of 85 earned All-Conference accolades.  In addition, 17 earned NCAA All-Southeast Region selections and nine qualified for the NCAA National Championship — with two earning All-America honors.  He also coached 11 Big South Rookies/Freshmen of the Year.  The Chanticleer cross country program ended the 1996 regular season ranked 24th nationally, and ranked as high as 20th in 1997 and 30th in 2002.  Furthermore, his squads earned 17 consecutive All-Academic Team honors from the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).

In track & field, Connie coached student-athletes to 10 All-American honors, as well as 91 Big South indoor champions, 115 Big South outdoor champions, and a combined 543 indoor and outdoor All-Big South honors.  He also coached fellow Big South Hall of Fame inductee Amber Campbell.  The Chanticleers ended the 1998 indoor season ranked 26th nationally and earned 12 consecutive USTFCCCA All-Academic Team honors as well in track & field.  In 2007, Coastal was sixth out of 327 Division I track & field programs with a 3.421 cumulative team GPA and in 2008 ranked 21st nationally with a 3.319 cumulative GPA.  Four of his student-athletes earned Academic All-America honors.

Most notably, Felicitas Mensing earned the Big South Scholar-Athlete of the Year “Triple Crown” in the sports of cross country, indoor track & field and outdoor track & field in the 2007-08 season — only the third athlete in Big South history to accomplish the feat.  Connie was voted the Big South Coach of the Decade in cross country (1990s and 2000s), indoor track & field (2000s) and outdoor track & field (2000s).  Connie was inducted into Coastal Carolina’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 2014, and joins Campbell and his former runners Jolene Williams and Catherine Conder in the Big South Hall of Fame.

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