ACC shot put champ Sion to coach Stanford track and field throwers


Zeb Sion, an assistant coach at Wake Forest the past five seasons, will coach the throwers at Stanford, Director of Track and Field Chris Miltenberg announced Tuesday.

Sion takes over for Michelle Eisenreich, who was named director of the women's track and field and cross country programs at Princeton.

Zeb Sion. Photo by Brian Westerholt/Sports On Film
Sion will work with an already-strong group of throwers, including two-time Pac-12 women's discus champion Valarie Allman and Pac-12 women's javelin winner Mackenzie Little, as well as NCAA West Prelims shot put qualifiers Lena Giger and Tristen Newman.

Allman, a rising senior, was third at the NCAA Championships in the discus in June and sixth at the Olympic Trials. She also advanced to NCAA's in the hammer. Little will be a sophomore and was seventh at NCAAs.

"We've conducted an exhaustive national search over the last month and all roads led back to Zeb," Miltenberg said. "He has a proven track record of developing elite student-athletes who are committed to success at the highest level both academically and athletically."

At Wake Forest, Sion coached athletes to three Atlantic Coast Conference titles, four All-America performances, and 14 NCAA East Prelims appearances, and 19 All-ACC honors.

He's had an athlete compete at the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Trials as well as 2013, 2014, and 2015 U.S. Championships. He's also had at least one athlete compete at the past four U.S. Junior Championships.

Among his throwers, javelin thrower Jessie Merckle captured her third ACC title in 2016, and John Maurins set an American junior record for the six-pound shot put in 2015, with a distance of 71-10 1/4.

Internationally, Sion coached athletes at 2014 World Junior Championships, 2015 Pan Am Junior Championships (Maurins won gold), and 2016 NACAC Under-23 Championships (Merkle won bronze).

Among them was including the Pan Am Junior champion in the men's shot put and bronze medalist in the women's javelin at the NACAC meet.

“Stanford has always been a school that I could see myself working at, and I am incredibly proud to join the track and field family as well as greater community," Sion said. “I am beyond appreciative to Coach Miltenberg, the rest of the staff, and the administration for this opportunity.

“In addition to continuing a great tradition in the throwing events at Stanford, I'm excited to be a part of a young, motivated staff that will work together to achieve the highest levels of success."

A native of Pocatello, Idaho, Sion threw the shot put and discus for Georgia Tech from 2001-05 and served as the team's captain in 2005.

He attended graduate school at Idaho State, where he completed his athletic eligibility. Sion was a two-time NCAA Championships qualifier and two-time All-Region shot putter, once at Georgia Tech and once at Idaho State.

He won the ACC shot put championship and was named Georgia Tech's Field MVP. At one point, Sion held the Georgia Tech indoor (18.00m/59-0 3/4) and outdoor (18.11m/59-5), and Idaho State outdoor (18.34m/60-2) records in the shot put. Sion broke a 31-year-old state shot put record with a throw of 64-3, which lasted another 13 years.

In the spring of 2005, Sion was recognized as the recipient of Georgia Tech's prestigious Robert Cup. This award is given annually to Tech's top senior student-athlete.

Upon graduation, Sion was one of Georgia Tech's recipients of the ACC Postgraduate Scholarship. Sion graduated with highest honors from Georgia Tech in 2005 with a management degree, and then earned his master's in physical education and athletic administration from Idaho State in 2007.

"I have always valued the true student-athlete ideal and believe that high level academics and athletics go hand in hand," Sion said. “Working at an institution that performs at the highest level of each is very exciting and appealing."

Stanford's throwing tradition is deep. Cardinal men's and women's throwers have combined for 25 NCAA titles and 114 top-five finishes. Sixteen Stanford throwers have gone to the Olympics, combining for five medals. Sion will seek to enhance that tradition.

"His work in developing talent to the NCAA and ACC championship level speaks for itself," Miltenberg said. “Most importantly, he was an ideal fit for Stanford and our program. Our entire team is excited for Zeb to take our throws group to the next level."

Men's soccer

Stanford starts the 2016 season where it finished a year ago. The Cardinal collected 579 points to top the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Preseason Top 25, the organization announced Tuesday.

Stanford, last season's national champion, took 20 of 24 first-place votes. Akron (567 points) and Clemson (548 points) are second and third and split the remaining first-place votes. Maryland (494 points) and Wake Forest (484 points) round out the top five.

The Cardinal advanced past three of the country's preseason top five in its run to the 2015 NCAA title. A Foster Langsdorf winner in the 97th minute off a free kick from Corey Baird pushed Stanford to a 2-1 win at top-seeded Wake Forest in the quarterfinals.

After a scoreless semifinal draw, Andrew Epstein saved the 10th Akron penalty kick to advance the Cardinal to the College Cup final in Kansas City, Kan. and in that championship, Stanford routed Clemson 4-0 to earn its first national crown in the more than 100 years of the program.

The Cardinal hosts an exhibition against Sacramento State on Saturday, August 13 (7 p.m.) before beginning its regular season at Cagan Stadium against Penn State on Friday, August 26 (5 p.m.).

Women's soccer

Stanford begins the 2016 season ranked No. 5 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of American (NSCAA) Preseason Top 25, the organization announced Tuesday.

It is the seventh time in the past eight seasons the Cardinal has debuted in the top five and marks the 10th consecutive year it has been in the preseason top 10.

Stanford registered 640 points, selected behind (in order of rankings) Florida State (751, 18 first-place votes), Penn State (731, 10), Duke (701, 2) and Virginia (671). Fellow Pac-12 teams ranked in the top 25 include No. 11 USC, No. 18 California and No. 20 Arizona.

Stanford will play six teams ranked in the top 25 and another five teams that are receiving votes.

Stanford earned its 10th Pac-12 title and went unbeaten in conference play with a 10-0-1 record. The Cardinal led the Pac-12 in goals scored with 24 in conference play and 35 overall. Stanford tied USC for the fewest goals allowed with 11 on the season.

The Cardinal plays host to UC Davis in an exhibition on Aug. 11, and opens the season on Aug. 19 at Navy. Stanford's home opener is Aug. 26 and will be a top-10 matchup against No. 7 Florida. The Cardinal begins Pac-12 play Sept. 24 against Oregon.

Among the red-letter days on Stanford's home schedule are a Sept. 11 contest against No. 13 Notre Dame and a Sept. 16 matchup against No. 21 Santa Clara. The Cardinal will have a nine-game homestand from Aug. 26-Oct. 2 with seven-of-nine opponents either being ranked or receiving votes.

Stanford will be featured in 11 Pac-12 Networks broadcasts this season, including six of its 11 conference matchups.

— Palo Alto Online Sports

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