Sykes grew up 30 miles from Hocking College on the Fairfield and Hocking County line and has strong ties to the area. He had a successful collegiate track and field/cross country career, first at the University of Rio Grande from 1999-2003 and then at Ohio University where he closed his collegiate career in the 2003-2004 season.
"I am thankful for this experience to contribute to the Hocking College Athletics’ mission of providing opportunities for participation in intercollegiate athletics in an environment that encourages the achievement of athletic excellence," said Sykes. "I am also grateful for the confidence that Dr. Young and Cary Campbell have in me to take on this leadership role. With the amazing training environment, very affordable education, and applicable, hands-on majors that serve our region’s needs, I look forward to starting the process of building a high-level Junior College Track & Cross Country program."
Sykes comes to Hocking College after a two-year stint as the Head Track & Field and Cross Country Coach at Ohio Christian University, and prior to that, a one-year stint as the Head Cross Country and Assistant Track Coach for Western Kentucky University.
Prior to his time in Kentucky, in 2018-2019 Sykes served as an assistant at the University of Oregon in their distance and cross country programs, both of which are widely recognized as a perennial power in distance running at the NCAA Division I level. In his year at Oregon, Sykes helped the Ducks to a highly successful one.
During the cross country campaign, Oregon won the Women’s Pac-12 Cross Country Championships and NCAA West Regional before taking third at the NCAA Championships in Madison, Wis. The men’s squad closed the conference championships in fourth place before turning in a top-15 team finish at the NCAA Championships. The women added another third-place finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships. UO wrapped up the year with a men’s Outdoor Pac-12 championship while the women brought home a runner-up finish. At the NCAA Outdoor Championships, Oregon’s women’s squad claimed fifth place while the men earned 12th as a team.
Between cross country, indoor track and outdoor track, Sykes assisted Oregon’s men’s and women’s distance squads to 20 collective First and Second Team All-America awards.
Before joining the University of Oregon's program, Sykes was named Head Cross Country & Assistant Track Coach for Liberty University in January 2018 after serving as an Assistant Coach during the 2017 season at LU.
During his time at Liberty, Sykes helped newcomer Noel Palmer improve from high school personal bests of 10:47 in the 3,200 and 17:45 in the 5K to 16:28 in the 5K and 34:41 in the 10K as a freshman in 2018. She placed 18th overall (third among freshmen) in her NCAA East Preliminary Round 10K debut and earned a fourth-place finish in the 5K at USATF Junior Outdoor Championships. He also saw Colin Schultz finish off his collegiate career with personal bests of 1:48.96 in the 800 and a school-record 3:43.58 in the 1,500. Additionally, Sykes guided Azaria Kirwa to a lifetime-best 13:55.74 indoor 5K at the 2018 Iowa State Classic. Only NCAA national champions Sam Chelanga and Josh McDougal ever ran faster as Flames.
During his first year at Liberty, Sykes oversaw Kirwa's breakthrough sophomore track & field campaign. Kirwa ran the 5K at the 2017 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships and clocked impressive times of 14:00.29 (5K) and 29:05.57 (10K) during the season. Kirwa carried that momentum into the 2017 cross country season, where he placed fourth at Pre-Nationals with an 8K time of 23:11.4 and 25th at the NCAA meet for All-America honors. Additionally, the 2017 LU men’s cross country team raced to a seventh-place Southeast Regional team finish – the Flames’ best regional finish since 2012.
Sykes began his coaching career in 2004, where he served as a graduate assistant for the Ohio University Bobcats. He later returned as a volunteer assistant in 2013 followed by a stint as the Women's Cross Country and Distance Coach, taking over all coaching duties for the Bobcats' women's distance runners in 2015. In between his service with Ohio University, Sykes spent a combined eight years coaching at Virginia Military Institute and Virginia Tech.
Sykes has earned three degrees, beginning with a bachelor's in multi-age physical education licensure in 2003 from the University of Rio Grande. The following year, he completed a master's in sport sciences & pedagogy: coaching education at Ohio University. He went on to obtain his Ph.D. in education, curriculum and instruction: sports performance in 2011 from Virginia Tech.
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