Tim Servis will enter into his fifth season as the head coach of Southern Arkansas’ Men’s and Women’s Track & Field programs when the calendar turns to 2019.
Southern Arkansas revived its once relevant and historically successful Men’s and Women’s Track & Field programs in May of 2014 and the university tabbed Servis, the school’s Head Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Coach, to lead the programs in authoring its next chapter.
Servis spent the fall semester following the announcement recruiting and he brought in 47 freshman athletes and four transfers for SAU’s first full season of outdoor track & field competition in the spring of 2015; four years after the programs’ last outdoor track & field competition and more than ten years since the university last produced full squads.
Since its rebirth, Servis has consistently raised the standards of both programs in his previous four years as head coach and last spring his efforts culminated in the SAU Men claiming their first Great American Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championship in dominate fashion; the program’s first conference title since 1985. In the team’s previous two GAC Title Meets, the SAU Men placed second in both 2016 and 2017, before literally running away with the title on their home track in 2018.
For his efforts in leading the SAU Men to their first conference title in 33 years, Servis was named the Great American Conference’s Men’s Outdoor Track & Field Coach of the Year.
Under Servis, the SAU Women claimed hardware in their first two GAC Championship Meets as they finished as league Runner-Up in both 2016 and 2017, before registering a third-place showing this past season in Magnolia.
With the team success that Southern Arkansas has experienced behind Servis’ leadership, several Muleriders and Lady Muleriders have garnered conference and national honors both on the track and in the classroom.
Servis has been responsible for coaching 125 All-GAC performers, including 14 individual champions (10 men, 4 women). Of the 125 All-GAC performers, 66 (35 men, 31 women) of those have garnered First-Team accolades and 59 (36 men, 23 women) have received Second-Team plaudits. In terms of weekly honors, nine different athletes (4 men, 5 women) have combined to win 11 GAC Track/Field Athlete of the Week awards.
Additionally, Servis has had a pair of athletes claim the GAC’s High Point Award (Most Valuable Athlete) as freshman Lady Mulerider Claudine Blancaflor (28 points) took home the honor at the 2017 championships, while junior Mulerider Karonce Higgins (33 points) snagged the award at the 2018 championships.
Five athletes, including Lady Muleriders Claudine Blancaflor (1500 Meter), Kenisha Bryant (400 Meter Hurdles) and T’Keyah Crockett (Discus Throw) and Muleriders Quincy Flowers (100 Meter) and Karonce Higgins (200, Long Jump), have garnered All-Central Region recognition from the United States Track & Field Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) under Servis’ watch, with Bryant claiming the honor in both 2017 and 2018.
Bryant, a member of Servis’ first Track & Field recruiting class, capped her junior year of 2017 by becoming the SAU Women’s first Division II All-America selection since 1995 after earning a Second-Team nod by the USTFCCCA. That season, Bryant became the first Lady Mulerider in the school’s Division II Era (1995-present) to compete at the NCAA DII Outdoor Track & Field National Championships. She was impressive in the 400 Meter Hurdles as she logged a fifth-place finish in her heat and an 11th-place showing overall with a time of 1:00.46.
Bryant joined Higgins, who competed in a pair of events (200 Meter, Long Jump) at the 2016 NCAA DII Outdoor Track & Field Championship, as the first female and male track & field athletes, respectively, to compete nationally for Southern Arkansas in the school’s Division II Era. This past spring, Bryant returned to the National Championships and was joined by Crockett.
Academically, Bryant received All-Academic honors from the USTFCCCA in 2017 and highlighted a Lady Mulerider squad that was named an All-Academic Team by the same outlet after sporting a team-GPA of 3.09 during the 2016-17 school year. Servis has also seen a handful of athletes from both teams earn All-Academic honors from the GAC as a dozen athletes (6 men, 6 women) have captured the honor since 2016.
Alonzo Banks enters into his fourth year at Southern Arkansas as an assistant track and field coach. Banks was hired on August 4, 2014, becoming the program’s first hired assistant coach since its official reboot that season, and has greatly impacted the SAU Track and Field program in his first three years.
A decorated sprinter in his collegiate days, Banks has undoubtedly helped Southern Arkansas reach the next level as his leadership in the sprint, hurdle and jump events has helped push the Muleriders and Lady Muleriders into perennial contenders within a talented Great American Conference.
Banks has coached 30 All-Conference athletes, including two-time GAC individual champion Kenisha Bryant (400m & 400m Hurdles) and 2016 GAC Long Jump Champion Karonce Higgins.
This past season, Bryant became a national provisional qualifier in the 400-meter hurdles with a school-record time of 1:00.99. It was the fourth different event, under Banks’ leadership, that an SAU athlete recorded a national provisional mark after Higgins notched a trio of DII provisional qualifying marks in the long jump (24’ 7 ¼”), 100 meter (10.59), and 200 meter (21.15) in 2016.
In his three years at Southern Arkansas, Banks has added several national certifications to his resume including a USA Track and Field Level 1 certification, while also becoming a United States Track & Field Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Sprints, Hurdles and Relays Specialist.
Banks, a former All-American and SEC individual champion while at Ole Miss, came to SAU after spending the 2013-14 year as a volunteer assistant at his alma mater. While a collegiate athlete at Ole Miss in the late 1990s, Banks ran as a sprinter in the long sprints and earned indoor All-America honors three times (400-meter in 1996, 4x400-meter relay in 1999, and 800-meter in 1999). Additionally, Banks was the SEC individual outdoor champion in the 400-meter in 1996. Banks would follow that up with a runner-up finish in the event in 1997.
As a coach at Ole Miss, Banks helped mentor the middle distance runner under the direction of head coach Brian O’Neal.
Prior to his coaching stint at Ole Miss, Banks worked for the City of Jackson from 2003-2013. During that time, Banks spent time as the recreation supervisor in addition to working in a similar capacity for youth outreach.
A native of Liberty, Miss., Banks graduated from Ole Miss in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in exercise science. He is married to Kogrecha Joy Banks, and the couple has four children: three sons, Tyrenzo (current Mulerider sprinter), Ta'Zion and Taahir, and one daughter, Ti'Alone'.
Chelsea Whalen enters her first season as an assistant coach for the SAU Men's and Women's Track & Field programs.
Whalen comes to Magnolia after spending two seasons as a Graduate Assistant Coach for the Florida State Track & Field programs, where she helped the Seminoles to a second-place finish at the 2017 ACC Outdoor Track & Field Championships and a third place showing in the conference’s 2018 championship meet. In indoor competition, Whalen was a part of the staff that helped lead the FSU Women to the 2018 ACC Indoor Track & Field title and a third place finish at the same meet in 2017.
“Chelsea is a very accomplished athlete and coach and she will add great depth to our coaching staff,” remarked Servis. “I am excited to get to work alongside her and for her to get started working with our athletes.”
In her position as a GA at FSU, Whalen assisted in both the recruitment of national and international athletes, the development of schedules and training plans for the programs, organized and processed athlete travel itinerary, and was responsible for ensuring athletes maintained academic standards. Whalen also holds several significant certifications by the United States Track & Field Cross Country Coaches Association, including T&FA Track & Field Technical Certification and TF&A Program Management Certification.
To say Whalen is familiar with having success collegiately would be an understatement as the native of Liverpool, Nova Scotia, experienced a decorated career as a member of the Florida State Women’s Track & Field program.
During her time as a thrower in Tallahassee, Whalen became a three-time All-American, which included a pair of honors in the javelin and one in the shot put, represented her native Canada five times on a global stage and in the classroom notched six All-ACC Academic honors as well as multiple USTFCCCA All-Academic and CoSIDA Academic All-Region accolades.
Additionally, Whalen, who served as a captain of the FSU Women’s Track & Field team, scored in seven of the eight ACC Championships that she competed in, which included capturing the individual shot put title at the 2013 ACC Outdoor Track & Field Championships, and she advanced to the NCAA postseason each year as well.
By the time Whalen finished competing collegiately, she owned the Seminole program record in the shot put (16.45m | 53’ 11 41/64”) and held the second-longest javelin throw (52.08m | 170’ 10 25/64”) in school history.
A 2014 graduate of Florida State with a Bachelor of Science in Sport Management, Whalen went on to earn her Master of Science in Sport Management from FSU in May of 2018. Additionally, Whalen was a member of Florida State’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee representing the Track & Field team and participated in several community service events.