Valparaiso University Director of Athletics Dr. Charles Small has announced the promotion of Vincent Walker to Director of Track & Field and Cross Country, removing the interim tag from Walker’s title.
Walker, who was hired as the distance coach and head cross country coach in April 2022, was named Interim Director of Track & Field and Cross Country in July 2022.
“I am impressed by the progress of our student-athletes under Coach Walker’s leadership this year,” Small said. “I am also enthusiastic about Coach Walker’s vision for the future of our track & field and cross country programs. His past experiences in the Big Ten Conference as well as the Missouri Valley Conference serve him well in his role leading our student-athletes. I look forward to seeing where Coach Walker and associate head coach James Overbo will take our program. The future is bright under their leadership.”
Under Walker’s guidance, Valpo boasted 15 performances that ranked in the top five in program history during the 2023 indoor track & field season, including four program records – Ignacio Veloz Bonilla in the 800 (1:51.70), Veloz Bonilla in the 3,000 (8:15.19), Evan Walda in the 5,000 (14:38.04) and Rhena Kiger in the pentathlon (2,577). At the Missouri Valley Conference Indoor Championships, the Valpo men had their highest finish since joining the league.
Walker’s first cross country season at the helm was also a memorable one, as the Beacon men boasted the highest NCAA Regional finish in program history. During that event, five Valpo men cracked the program record book in the 10K, with Walker’s group accounting for five of the seven best 10K times in program history. The Bradley Pink Classic marked another highlight of the cross country docket, as four Beacons (three men in the 8K and one woman in the 6K) turned in all-time top-10 times, including the second and third fastest 8K performances in Valpo men’s cross country history.
“It is an honor to be named the Director of Track & Field and Cross Country at Valparaiso University,” Walker said. “When I first came here in April, I was excited to step into the distance role and keep building the team. When I had the opportunity to become interim director, I was excited to take on a bigger role and work with all of our student-athletes. During our indoor season, it has been a joy to be more involved with all of our event groups and see our athletes breaking program records. My goal is to elevate the program to a level where it’s never been before. I’m excited to see the direction our program can go.”
Walker made an immediate impact on the distance group during the 2022 track & field season. His first spring with the team culminated with Veloz Bonilla placing third in the 1,500-meter run at the Puerto Rico National Championships.
Walker came to Valpo after gaining experience in the Big Ten Conference at the University of Minnesota, where he had served as an assistant cross country and track & field coach since 2018. He began his coaching career in the Missouri Valley Conference, where he was part of the cross country and track & field staffs at his alma mater, Southern Illinois University, from 2016 to 2018.
During his time at Minnesota, the program boasted eight NCAA First-Team All-Americans, two Olympic Trials qualifiers, two USA Championship qualifiers, one NCAA indoor national runner-up, 19 NCAA Division-I First Round qualifiers, four Big Ten champions, three Big Ten team championships, 14 All-Big Ten honorees, six NCAA cross country national team qualifiers, 14 NCAA cross country all-region honorees, two Big Ten cross country champions, four All-Big Ten cross country honors, two Big Ten Cross Country Athletes of the Year, one Midwest Region Track Athlete of the Year, one NCAA Elite 20 Award, one Midwest Region Cross Country Athlete of the Year, one NCAA Elite 90 Award and five school records.
During his stint at SIU, Walker instructed two MVC runner-up teams, two NCAA Division-I first-round qualifiers, one MVC track & field champion, four MVC runners-up, four MVC all-conference honorees, one NCAA all-region honoree and four MVC Elite 18 award winners.
Walker graduated from Southern Illinois in May 2017 with a degree in university studies and a minor in coaching and philosophy. His high school alma mater is LaSalle-Peru Township in La Salle, Ill.