Hayes by the Numbers:
3-time South Central Regional Cross Country Coach of the Year
2-time Big Sky Conference Cross Country Coach of the Year
54 NCAA Division I qualifiers and 26 First-Team All-Americans
7 NCAA Division I Champions
9 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championship team appearances
16 Top-12 NCAA Division I team finishes in track and cross country
15 Division I conference championship team titles
3rd in 2012 and 5th in 2013 USTFCCCA Program of the Year standings
3 USATF 1500m Champions in 6 years
John Hayes, who has coached seven Division I NCAA track and cross country champions and has led teams to nine NCAA Division I cross country championship appearances, was named Wake Forest's director of track and field and cross country on August 1, 2016.
Hayes brings 18 years of coaching experience, including 12 at the Division I level, and was previously the founder and head coach of ATX Elite Coaching in Austin, Texas.
In his first cross country season with the Demon Deacons in 2016, Hayes led the men’s cross country team to an eighth-place finish at the ACC Championships and 16th at the NCAA Southeast Regional. However, Hayes’ impact was made clear during the 2017 season, as the men improved to sixth at the conference meet, the highest finish by the men since 2010. Freshman Mitchell Day, recruited by Hayes, earned All-ACC honors after finishing 13th to become the program’s first-ever male ACC Freshman of the Year honoree and first All-Conference recipient since 2005. The men’s team would go on to take 11th at the NCAA Southeast Regional.
On the track, Hayes has coached Robert Heppenstall to three All-American honors – two in the indoor 800m and one in the outdoor 800m. Heppenstall holds the school record in both the indoor and outdoor 800m and is only the second Demon Deacon to earn All-American status in the 800m.
Known as a specialist in the middle distance and distance events, Hayes coached two athletes to three USATF 1,500-meter titles between 2009 and 2014. Prior to founding ATX Elite Coaching, Hayes spent five years (2008-13) at the University of Texas as cross country coach for the men's team and assistant coach for the men's track and field program. During his time with the Longhorns, Hayes' student-athletes posted six school records, claimed 90 All-Big 12 honors, and captured three Big 12 team titles along with eight top-12 NCAA team finishes. A total of 28 NCAA qualifiers garnered 14 First Team All-America honors, and one was crowned NCAA champion under Hayes, who helped build the nation's No. 1 and 3 ranked recruiting classes in 2011 and 2013, respectively. Top performers included 2009 indoor 800m NCAA champion Jacob Hernandez, 2009 outdoor 800m NCAA runner-up Tevan Everett, 10K sophomore and cross country All-Americans Ryan Dohner and Craig Lutz, and two All-American distance medley relay teams. A three-time South Central Region Cross Country Coach of the Year, Hayes' teams won back-to-back South Central Region titles in 2011 and 2012, the first in program history, and improved their placement four years in a row both at conference and nationals -- finishing 2nd in the Big 12 and 9th in the NCAA in 2012.
It was the second stop at Texas for Hayes, who was the women's cross country and assistant track coach from 2001-2004. He led the cross country team to three-straight NCAA Cross Country Championship appearances, claiming its first regional title in 15 years, while coaching one student-athlete to All-American status. Under the guidance of Hayes, the track and field program won four Big 12 Championships and qualified five individuals for the NCAA Championships.
Hayes spent the 2007-08 season at the U.S. Air Force Academy where he served as the head men's and women's cross country and assistant track and field coach. The men's cross country team finished third at the Mountain West Championships and saw one individual qualify for the NCAA Championships, the first NCAA appearance by Air Force in four years. On the track, Hayes coached four conference champions, 12 All-MWC recipients, six regional qualifiers, and one national qualifier.
From 2004-2007, Hayes served as the head men's and women's cross country and assistant track coach at Northern Arizona University. Under his watch, 17 NCAA qualifiers earned nine First Team All-American honors and six NCAA titles, breaking 10 school records along the way. Ida Nilsson took the 5000m title at the 2005 NCAA Indoor Championships, while sister Johanna Nilsson won the 2005 NCAA Cross Country Championships, finished third at the 2005 European Cross Country Championships, and went on to claim 2006 NCAA championship titles in the indoor mile and 3000m. Johanna Nilsson set a new course record at the 2005 NCAA Cross Country Championships and was named NCAA Cross Country Athlete of the Year and 2006 NCAA Indoor Athlete of the Year. While at NAU, Hayes also coached Lopez Lomong to 2007 NCAA titles in the indoor 3000 and outdoor 1500. Hayes was twice named the Big Sky Cross Country Coach of the Year, assembling one of the strongest men's and women's distance programs in the country by the fall of 2007.
Hayes got his collegiate coaching start at Division II Morehouse College from 1997-2000 as an assistant cross country and track coach. In his three years with the Tigers, Hayes coached 20 Division II All-America honors and saw his teams break a total of 12 program records.
On the post-collegiate front, Hayes mentored Olympic silver-medalist Leo Manzano in 2014-15 to a 3:30.98 1500m personal record (5th fastest U.S. time ever) and 2014 USATF national title. Manzano achieved additional success in 2015 as a finalist and 10th place finisher in the 1500m at the IAAF World Championships, his second highest finish at any global championships.
Prior to this, Hayes coached Lopez Lomong to two USATF national titles (2009 & 2010) and an eighth-place finish in the 1500m at the 2009 IAAF World Championships. Lomong also qualified for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and served as U.S. flag bearer during the Opening Ceremonies. His 3:32.20 personal record ranked 9th on the U.S. all-time list in 2010. In addition, Hayes coached former Texas walk-on turned All-American Talis Apud-Martinez in her professional career, highlighted in 2005 by first-place finishes at the Pan-American Duathlon Championships and U.S. Championships and in 2007 by a silver medal in the 3000m steeplechase at the Pan-American Games. Apud-Martinez set the Mexico steeple record in 2007.
A native of Randolph, N.J., Hayes received his bachelor's degree in statistics from the University of Georgia, where he was a scholarship athlete in track and cross country and team captain his final two seasons. Hayes transferred to Georgia after spending his freshman year at the U.S. Military Academy, where he was a scoring member of Army's cross country team at the 1986 NCAA Championships. He would go on to continue his education as he completed the Defense Language Institute's Russian Language School and served as a Russian linguist in the U.S. Army for four and a half years. For his service, Hayes received the Good Conduct Medal in 1994 and the Meritorious Service Medal in 1995. Hayes and his wife, Stacey, who competed in the hurdles for Colorado State University, have two sons -- Christian and Austin.