Jerry Clayton recently completed his third season as the head coach with the University of Michigan men's track and field program, working primarily with the Wolverine throwers and jumpers. A Big Ten alum and Midwest native, Clayton took over the Wolverine program after spending the previous 15 seasons at Auburn University.
The 2016 season was the best of the Clayton Era. U-M finished tied for 13th in the nation outdoors, the program's second top-15 finish in the last 55 years and the first since 1997. Five athletes earned All-American citations, including the program's first-ever decathlon All-American, Steven Bastien, who re-broke his own program record, the ninth U-M has broken in Clayton's first three seasons.
Michigan was second at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships with 90.5 points -- both program-highs since the 2008 season -- and placed fourth at the Big Ten Indoor Championships, just two points shy of a runner-up placing. During the season, Mason Ferlic became the first Wolverine in program history to receive votes for the Bowerman Award, collegiate track and field's highest honor, and Michigan's 20 athletes sent to the NCAA East Preliminary Round mark a program-best.
At the outdoor championships, U-M was the only program to score in each throwing event (discus, hammer, shot put, javelin), and the Wolverines also scored in the decathlon, pole vault, high jump and triple jump. Steven Bastien broke his program decathlon record en route to a silver medal, and U-M totaled five all-conference honorees in all (three first-team).
At the indoor meet, individual champions Steven Bastien (Heptathlon) and Mason Ferlic (5,000m) were among U-M's all-conference honorees (Kevin Stephens; 2nd Team; Triple Jump) and the team broke program records in the 400m race, Triple Jump, Weight Throw and Heptathlon among top-10 all-time performances in a number of other events. Clayton guided Bastien (Heptathlon) to his second career first team All-America honor (eighth place) and another new U-M Heptathlon record (5,810 points) in Birmingham, Alabama, and the DMR also secured All-America honors, giving Michigan five All-Americans on the weekend.
In his second season with the Maize and Blue, U-M featured a pair of individual conference champions and a fifth-place finish at the Indoor Big Ten Championships. Clayton guided two Wolverines to qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championships. Derek Sievers, who set the indoor shot put record early in the 2015 season, earned All-America second team honors by finishing 11th. Clayton also helped U-M to its first-ever All-American in the heptathlon, guiding Bastien to an eighth-place finish and the new U-M indoor program record.
During the outdoor campaign, Clayton helped direct 10 Wolverine athletes to the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds, including a pair of throwers in Sievers and fifth-year senior co-captain Cody Riffle, who went on to earn USTFCCCA Honorable Mention recognition at the NCAA Championships. Sievers and Riffle also set the indoor and outdoor program records in the shot put, respectively, during the 2015 season.
In his first season at U-M, he guided fifth-year senior Bradley James to the Big Ten outdoor high jump title and helped 13 student-athletes advance to the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds, including eight field event athletes. Under Clayton's direction, Derek Sievers qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the shot put, where he earned All-America second team honors. In his event areas, eight Wolverines moved into Michigan's all-time top 10 performance list during the 2014 indoor and outdoor seasons, including Sievers, who set a new school record in the outdoor shot put.
One of the nation's top field event coaches, Clayton has successfully developed individualized training programs for the sprints, hurdles and the field events. His work has produced 16 NCAA individual champions, 39 international team competitors, 24 qualifiers for the U.S. Olympic Trials and 33 participants in Olympic Games and World Championship competition.
Clayton has coached 88 NCAA All-American student-athletes. He has had 158 athletes qualify for the NCAA Track and Field Championships and 114 individual conference champions. In addition, Clayton has coached athletes that won individual NCAA titles in seven of the nine field events, with competitors receiving All-America accolades in each field event.
During Clayton's 15 seasons at Auburn (1998-2013), the Tigers won the 2006 NCAA Women's Outdoor Track and Field championship. He helped Auburn to 18 top-10 finishes at the NCAA Track and Field Championships (indoor and outdoor), including 10 top-five finishes. Clayton personally coached 10 NCAA national champions, had his student-athletes earn 51 All-America honors and 34 SEC individual titles. He had 79 performers qualify for the NCAA Track and Field Championships.
Clayton spent three seasons (1995-98) as the University of Florida's field event coach prior to joining the Auburn staff. During his tenure, Clayton helped the Gators produce 13 qualifiers for the NCAA Track and Field Championships, receiving eight All-America honors, three individual SEC champions and 10 All-SEC honors. He helped the Gators program to one top-10 finish at the NCAA Track and Field Championships and four top-three finishes at the SEC Championship.
Prior to joining the Florida staff in 1995, Clayton was the head men's and women's track and field coach at Southwest Texas State for six seasons (1989-94). He led the Bobcats to a combined four Southland Conference championships, including the first men's outdoor SLC title in program history during the 1993 season. Clayton led the men's team to a program-best seventh place finish at the 1990 NCAA Outdoor Championships and the women's team placed 13th at the 1994 NCAA Outdoor Championships. He was named the 1991 Region VI Coach of the Year and the Southland Conference Coach of the Year on four occasions.
Clayton was an assistant men's track and field coach at his alma mater, the University of Illinois, for nine seasons (1980-89) before accepting the Southwest Texas State position. He helped the Illini to seven Big Ten track and field titles and three top-10 finishes at the NCAA Championships. This includes a runner-up performance at the 1988 NCAA Indoor Championships.
Clayton is a native of Rushville, Ill. He graduated from Illinois in 1980 with a bachelor of sciences degree in physical education. Clayton was a two-time NCAA qualifier in the shot put.
Clayton and his wife, Becky, a former three-time All-American long jumper at the University of Illinois, have two sons: Zach and Nick. Zach played on Auburn's 2010 national championship team, while Nick is a 2013 graduate of the Air Force Academy and has been selected into the pilot's program.
Clayton by the Numbers
Has coached 2 World Champions
Has coached 2 Olympic Medalists (Silver, Bronze)
Has coached athletes in each of the last four Olympic Games and six World Championships
Michigan athletes have broken eight records during his tenure, including 1 record-holding relay and 5 record-holders in his event groups
Has coached 16 individual NCAA Champions
Has coached 88 All-Americans and one All-American relay team, including 15 in his event groups
Has All-Americans in 7 of 9 Field Event groups
NCAA Great Lakes Region Outdoor Head Coach of the Year (2016)
Has coached 30 NCAA Regional Qualifiers at Michigan, including a program-record 20 in 2016