Ken Shannon, one of the most respected coaches in the Pacific-10 Conference and the country, begins his 40th season of collegiate coaching, 32 of which have been at Washington. This will be the final season for Shannon who plans to retire following the 2000 track & field campaign. Under his guidance, the UW has enjoyed tremendous national success at both the collegiate and international levels.
In July of 1997, Shannon stepped down from his post as head coach of the men's track & field team and is now working on a part-time basis. He trains the standout group of Husky throwers that includes All-America discus performer Ben Lindsey.
During his 29-year head-coaching tenure, the Washington men recorded seven top-12 finishes at the NCAA Championships and have had athletes earn 81 All-America certificates. In fact, the Huskies went from 38th place in 1969, Shannon's first year at Washington, to as high as sixth in 1972. That was the first of four top-10 finishes for the Huskies during the Shannon era.
Shannon has produced 39 conference champions, 18 NCAA Champions and has coached 10 athletes to NCAA record-holder status, including Mike Ramos who set the decathlon record of 8,322 points at the 1986 Pac-10 Championships in Los Angeles. That mark stood until last year.
In 1998, Aretha Hill earned her four consecutive All-America award in the discus. Hill, the 1996 and 1998 Pac-10 champion, established a new American Collegiate discus record of 215-3. Ben Lindsey qualified for the NCAA Championships in both the discus and shot put and earned his second discus All-America award.
During 1997, Shannon's final season as men's head coach, Lindsey placed ninth in the discus and Brice Newton was 12th in the 1,500 meters to each earn All-America honors. In 1996, four athletes garnered All-America acclaim, including Pac-10 javelin champion Troy Burkholder who was fourth at the NCAAs. Shot putter Ernie Conwell placed fifth and pole vaulter Bryan Madche was sixth.
The Washington men's squad placed third at the Pacific-10 Conference championship meets (1996, 1997) in Shannon's final two campaigns at the helm, its best finishes since a second-place effort in 1976. The Huskies proceeded to place 26th at the 1996 NCAA meet, their best performance since 1987.
Five members of the 1987 Husky men's squad placed in the top 10 at the NCAA Championships at Louisiana State. In 1989, Washington was ranked 12th nationally with a 13-3 dual meet record. Darryl Roberson capped that season off by establishing a new American collegiate javelin record of 249-6.
The 1990 UW team had three individuals finish among the nation's top-10 and the 4x400 relay unit finished fifth. Rick Noji won the Pac-10 high jump title en route to a third-place NCAA performance. That 1990 Husky squad finished third in the national dual-meet rankings with a 7-1 record. In 1992, the UW posted a No. 15 ranking and three athletes placed among the top-14 nationally at the 1992 NCAA meet.
In 1993, Adam Setliff registered the nation's best discus performance with a mark of 210-3. He finished fifth at the NCAAs, joining steeplechaser Greg Metcalf among the top-six. In 1994, Pete Kaligis placed seventh in the shot put and Craig Manalili earned All-America honors in the javelin. In 1995, Conwell garnered All-America accolades for a fifth-place shot put performance.
Voted the Pacific-8 Coach of the Year in 1976, Shannon was honored as the NCAA District 8 Coach of the Year in 1990.
Two of the six discus throwers representing the United States at the 1996 Olympic Games were coached at Washington by Shannon. Hill placed 34th in the discus at the Atlanta Olympics after qualifying with a third-place performance at the U.S. Olympic Trials. Setliff represented the U.S. men, advancing to the finals and placing 13th.
Shannon has long been recognized as one of the country's premier field event coaches. He was selected as an assistant coach in charge of throwers and decathlon performers for the 1984 U.S. Olympic and 1986 Goodwill teams. He was a javelin assistant for the 1976 U.S. Olympic Team and was an assistant with the U.S. squad in the 1974 USA-USSR indoor dual meet.
In addition to his Olympic coaching experience, Shannon was an assistant for the 1979 Pan American Games team and head coach of the 1978 U.S. World University Games team. Recently, he was selected as head coach of the U.S. national team for the Pan-African meet, August, 1994 in Durham, N.C.
The veteran coach grew up in Porterville, Calif., and lettered one year in football and track at Porterville JC. He transferred to Occidental College and became a three-year letterman in both football and track. Shannon was an all-conference performer in football and the conference discus champion. He earned his B.S. in physical education in 1959 and did post-graduate work at Cal State-LA.
Shannon began his coaching career at Occidental where he was an assistant football coach from 1960 to 1964, along with serving as freshman track coach from 1961-63. He was voted into the Occidental Athletic Hall of Fame in 1994. Shannon later was an assistant coach at UCLA from 1964 until moving to Washington in August of 1968.
Ken and his wife, Janet, live in Snohomish and are the parents of three.