WILMINGTON, North Carolina – The UNCW cross country and track and field programs will remain under the direction of Head Coach Layne Schwier, who had the interim tag lifted from his title on Thursday by Director of Athletics Jimmy Bass.
“Layne has put his heart and soul into the program over the last 13 years and did a wonderful job last year during a transitional period,” said Bass. “We believe he’s the right person to provide the leadership and guidance to move the program forward.”
Schwier, 41, served as the program’s longtime assistant coach before his appointment as interim head coach on July 27, 2015. He headed up the men's and women's distance programs and the track and field teams one year ago.
Since Schwier’s arrival on the scene in 2003, UNCW’s track and field program has enjoyed strong success, winning five Colonial Athletic Association men’s titles from 2005-14.
“I want to thank Jimmy Bass and (Deputy A.D.) Adrianne Swinney for the opportunity to continue leading this program,” said Schwier. “I’m confident that I am ready for the many responsibilities and challenges that come with this position. My family and I love the Wilmington area and are grateful that I am able to remain at UNCW and continue working with such a great group of student-athletes, administrators, support staff, and alumni.
“UNCW has become my home over the past 13 years and I look forward to many more productive and successful years to come. I’m very excited about the future of UNCW Athletics and Seahawk Track & Field and Cross Country.”
Schwier’s cross country squads have excelled in the classroom through the years. The women have earned USTFCCCA All-Academic Team honors 12 times. Individually, Schwier's student-athletes have been named to the USTFCCCA All-Academic Team 14 times.
One of Schwier’s protégés, Dylan Skinner, won the 800 Meters title and anchored the winning 4x400 relay at the 2014 CAA Championships. Skinner qualified for the NCAA Regionals, where he broke the 800 Meters record (1:48.27) and advanced to the quarterfinals. He was also named CAA Men’s Track & Field Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
All-time greats Wil Zahorodny and Bob Vanderham also shined under Schwier’s tutelage. Zahorodny was named CAA Men’s Cross Country Scholar Athlete-of-the-Year in 2012, while Vanderham defended his CAA Championship in the 800 Meters and competed in the first round of the NCAA Championships.
On the women’s side, Schwier coached prolific runners Lindsay Ester and Kathleen Casto. In 2010-11, Ester finished sixth at the CAA Cross Country Championships to earn All-CAA honors. Casto, meanwhile, established herself as one of the best in school history in 2009-10 when she set school records in both the 10K and the 1500 Meters. She collected a conference record en route to the CAA title in the 10K, qualifying for the opening round of the NCAA Championships.
In his first five years with the program, Schwier was also responsible for the throwers. The Seahawks achieved 27 All-CAA performances (12 individual titles), 25 IC4A/ECAC qualifiers (seven All-East performances and four Champions), 17 NCAA Regional qualifiers, and broke five school records during that time. Four student-athletes qualified for the NCAA Championships in the five-year span, including the first for the women's track & field program when UNCW T&F Hall of Famer Christie Schreckengost qualified in the javelin in 2004.
Schwier played a major role in the emergence of all-time great Anna Raynor in the javelin. With no experience in the event before coming to UNCW, Raynor concluded her career as a three-time All-American (11th at NCAA's in 2005, fourth in 2006 and 2007), three-time CAA Champion and ECAC Champion, two-time Penn Relays Champion, as well as the CAA and UNCW record holder in the javelin. Raynor was selected CAA Track & Field Athlete-of-the-Year three straight seasons (2004-07) and was named Southeast Region Field Athlete-of-the-Year. In the summer of 2007, Raynor finished third at the USA National Championships. As a member of Team USA, she claimed the silver medal at the NACAC Senior Games in El Salvador.
Prior to arriving in Wilmington, Schwier spent two seasons with the Ball State women's track & field program. During his stint with the Cardinals, Schwier coached Janee Langhorne to a Mid-American Conference Indoor Championship, where she also set a Mid-American Conference record in the Weight Throw. BSU also became the first MAC school to qualify a women's team to the NCAA Cross Country National Championship.
Schwier also spent two years as assistant coach at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, after beginning his career at Chillicothe (Ohio) High School as head coach of the cross country and track & field teams.
Schwier ran cross country and track for four years at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, and was coached by 1964 Olympic Gold Medalist Bob Schul. Schwier completed his coursework for a Master’s Degree in Sport Biomechanics from Ball State.
Schwier is a member of the USTFCCCA and USA Track & Field. He holds USATF Level II Certification in Throws, Jumps, Combined Events, and Endurance. He is also a USATF Certified Level I Instructor.