Elmhurst, Ill., native Jason Wakenight, a former middle distance runner at the University of Iowa, is in his second season as an assistant cross country/track and field coach at Loyola University Chicago. Prior to arriving in Rogers Park, Wakenight spent five seasons as a volunteer assistant coach at Iowa, where he worked with sprinters, hurdlers and middle-distance runners.
"We are excited to have Jason join our staff. His energy and enthusiasm both as a coach and as a recruiter will certainly enhance our program," Loyola head coach Randy Hasenbank said. "Jason's ties to Chicago, along with his student-athlete and coaching experience at Iowa make him a great fit for Loyola. He is an ambitious young man and a real student of the sport."
Despite his age, Wakenight has already had quite an impact on his pupils, helping each of the last three 4x400m relay teams he has coached to a top-ten finish at the NCAA Championships, with the highest showing being a fourth-place effort. Working in accord with 2003 World Championships silver medalist Joey Woody, Wakenight, a graduate of York High School, helped Justin Austin to a fifth-place showing in the 200m at the USA Outdoor Championships, where he posted a time of 20.31.
At Iowa, Wakenight was schooled under some of the best coaches in the Midwest and collaborated with Joey Woody to help develop two NCAA All-Americans in the short hurdles, one in the 400m and a two-time All-American in the 800m in addition to the top-ten finishers in the 4x400m relay. The Hawkeye program produced five indoor and two outdoor Big Ten champions in 2011 and Wakenight was part of a staff that saw head coach Larry Wieczorek earn 2011 Big Ten Coach of the Year and United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Midwest Region Coach of the Year honors, while Woody was named USTFCCCA Midwest Assistant Coach of the Year.
In addition to his coaching duties at Iowa, Wakenight also was the founder and director of Iowa City Nighthawks Track Club, which produced 40 all-state runners and 14 Iowa state champions.
A 2006 graduate of Iowa, Wakenight was a three-year letterwinner for the Hawkeyes and twice qualified for the NCAA Regional in the 4x400m. He owns a USATF Level I certification and USTFCCCA Jumps Specialist certification.