Chris Huffins, former NCAA decathlon champion at Cal and current assistant track & field coach at Georgia Tech, will return to Berkeley as the school’s new director of track and field and cross country, Cal Athletic Director Steve Gladstone announced Wednesday.
Huffins, a two-time U.S. Olympic decathlete who won the bronze medal at the 2000 Games in Sydney, Australia, replaces Erv Hunt, who recently assumed a new executive administrative role in the Golden Bears’ athletic department after directing Cal’s track and field program for 30 years.
The 32-year-old Huffins will direct both the men’s and women’s track & field and cross country programs.
“As we proceeded through a nationwide interview process for Erv’s successor, it became more and more evident that Chris Huffins was the ideal choice to lead Cal track and field into a new era,” Gladstone said.
Huffins has served as a major college assistant coach for the past five years. The Brooklyn, N.Y., native spent three seasons at Wake Forest as the Demon Deacons’ sprint coach from 1997-99, before joining the Georgia Tech staff in 2000, working primarily with the Yellow Jackets’ multi-event, short sprinters, throws and pole vault performers the past two years.
“This is a dream come true for me,” said Huffins. “My heart has never left Berkeley, and I look forward to building upon what Coach Hunt has achieved here at Cal and help return the track and field program to national prominence. I am also thrilled to come back and have the opportunity to complete my Cal degree, which is important to me and the university, and also sets a good example for my student-athletes.”
Huffins majored in political economy of industrial societies at Cal from 1990-93 before leaving to train for the 1996 Olympics. He is less than one year of class credits shy of earning his degree.
Huffins began his collegiate career at Purdue in 1988, but transferred to California two years later, soon blossoming into a national figure in the decathlon. As a Golden Bear, he first won the triple jump competition at the 1991 Pac-10 Championships, then captured both the Pac-10 and NCAA decathlon titles in 1993.
Huffins won the U.S. National Championship in both 1998 and 1999, and finished second at the 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials. In the ‘98 U.S. Championships, Huffins posted the then-highest decathlon score in the world.
Huffins, a member of the 1996 and 2000 U.S. Olympic teams, is a former world record holder in the decathlon 100 meters. He also earned a gold medal in setting the meet record at the 1999 Pan American Games.
As one of the current leaders of the sport, Huffins serves as assistant coach for the World Junior Championship team, as chairman of the men’s combined events for USA Track & Field, and as a member of the USATF board of directors.