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Barnhart promises UK's track and field success won't depart with Floreal

Edrick Floreal, who has been at UK since 2012, was named the new head coach at Texas on Wednesday.
Edrick Floreal, who has been at UK since 2012, was named the new head coach at Texas on Wednesday. Herald-Leader

One of the University of Kentucky's most successful coaches is leaving, but that doesn't mean the Wildcats' success is leaving with him, according to Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart.

Track and field head coach Edrick Floreal was hired Wednesday to fill the same position at the University of Texas. Floreal, who transformed Kentucky into a consistent national contender during his six seasons in Lexington, coached the UK women to a fourth-place finish and the men to 16th place at last weekend's NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Ore.

Four days after that meet ended, Floreal was off to the Lone Star State.

“We are grateful to Edrick for his work leading our program and wish him well," Barnhart said in a news release. "We believe the success Kentucky track and field and cross country have seen in recent years is just a glimpse of what’s to come. A national search for our next head coach will begin immediately. Our focus in this search will remain on our student-athletes and their growth as people and competitors.”

Floreal, who came to UK from Stanford and is a veteran of more than 25 years of coaching, said he was grateful for his time at UK but sees massive potential at Texas. He will replace Mario Sategna, who was fired after five years.

"I would be remiss if I didn't start off by thanking Mitch Barnhart and everyone at Kentucky," Floreal said in a Texas news release. "I'm so grateful for all the support they gave me in building a world-class program there.

Edrick Floreal, right, received a hug during Senior Day activities at UK in 2016. Floreal was hired by Texas on Wednesday after six seasons as UK head coach. Britney Howard UK Athletics

"It's because of them that I have an opportunity like this, and I am so excited to be the head coach at Texas. It's the elite of the elite in track and field programs, and the potential to achieve greatness is fantastic. You have the premier track and field state in the country to recruit in, a rich and proud history, and are the flagship institution of the state. It's truly an amazing opportunity."

Texas' men finished 25th and its women tied for 34th in last weekend's NCAA Outdoor Championships.

"Edrick is a terrific coach who has a tremendous reputation in the track and field community," Texas Athletics Director Del Conte said in the news release. "He's a coach I've followed for a long time and is so well respected. Everyone I talked to had great things to say, and I really enjoyed visiting with him. I am excited about what he'll bring to our program and how he'll build on the proud tradition of Texas track and field."

Four UK athletes won NCAA titles in Eugene. Jasmine Camacho-Quinn (100-meter hurdles) and freshman Sydney McLaughlin (400 hurdles) became the first women's duo from the same school in NCAA history to sweep the hurdles events. Olivia Gruver defended her championship in the pole vault, and NCAA indoor heptathlon champion Tim Duckworth earned UK's first-ever NCAA decathlon title in the outdoor meet.

Edrick Floreal worked with freshman Sydney McLaughlin on her starts during a UK track and field practice this past season. Charles Bertram cbertram@herald-leader.com

During Floreal's time at UK, his athletes won 12 NCAA event championships, earned 142 All-America honors, 37 individual SEC championships and five Academic All-America honors.

Floreal served as an assistant at UK from 1995-97 before a successful run at Stanford. When he left a track and field power like Stanford to return to Kentucky, Track and Field News magazine called the move "a coaching shocker."

UK's men placed eighth in the Southeastern Conference outdoor championships and the women 12th the year before Floreal's arrival.

"People who know me know I'm a tireless worker, I'm a workaholic and love being at the track," Floreal said in Wednesday's Texas news release. "I am driven to succeed and come to work every day with the burning desire to make everybody on the team better. I am going to bring that same focus, passion and drive to Texas. I am so excited to get there, meet the team and become a part of the Longhorn community."

Freshman Sydney McLaughlin came to Kentucky with Olympic experience and a world record already beside her name. In her time with the Wildcats, she looks to refine her talent with the help of coach Edrick Floréal.