Chris Bradford hired as track and cross-country coach

By David Wilson

Chris Bradford was named head coach of the cross-country and track and field teams over the summer after serving eight years in the same position at Western State Colorado University.

Bradford took over from last year’s acting head coach Wes Ashford who was retained by Cal Poly Pomona as associate head coach.

“It’s the right opportunity for me, but I also see a lot of opportunity here to be successful, to help this team,” Bradford said.

At Western State Colorado University, Bradford focused exclusively on the track and field side.

Despite his title, Bradford sees similarities in how the responsibilities are divided at Cal Poly Pomona.

Bradford will have a more hands on role when track season rolls around, but with cross-country, his role will be to support Ashford who runs the day-to-day needs of the two cross-country teams.

“He’s writing the training, he’s putting them through the paces every day, and my job is to not get in the way of that,” Bradford said.

Even with two coaches, Bradford acknowledged the challenges in being responsible for so many athletes but “that’s what we sign up for.”

Ashford was named acting head coach in December after former head coach Octavious Gillespie-Bennett left the school.

Ashford described the transition from assistant head coach to head coach as, “zero to 60,” and that it was made more difficult by the lack of a coaching staff and being the only distance coach.

Ashford was not sure what the future held after last season.

He had to decide whether he would return to CPP, and if so, in what capacity.

“There’s always thought of change and moving on in this profession,” Ashford said. “You’re always looking for different situations, different places to be. Nothing was for sure.”

In the three months working together, both coaches have found that they have similar philosophies about running.

For Ashford, it has been key to have someone else to talk the ins and outs of cross-country with.

“Somebody to talk shop with, to me that’s the biggest difference,” Ashford said. “Somebody you can just kind of sit and talk about workouts and talk about athletes and talk about how we can help the kids get better. I didn’t have that last year.”

Despite the individuality of track and cross country, both coaches stressed the impact a successful coaching staff on the athletes.

“Coaching staff is everything,” Bradford said. “If the coaches are on the same page then the kids believe it and they buy into it.”

Ashford struggled to describe in practice what philosophy he and Bradford have tried to implement but simply described it as a, “mindset,” that makes sure the athletes, “focus on the things they need to focus on at the right time.”

Speaking in the week leading up to this past weekend’s California Collegiate Athletic Association Championships, Bradford and Ashford were confident in the progress that has been made since the beginning of the year.

“I’ve been extremely impressed, since I’ve been here about how the kids have moved throughout the season,” Bradford said. “We’ve definitely grown as a team, I think we’ve definitely gotten better.”

Chris Bradford

Courtesy of CPP Sports Information

Chris Bradford

Wes Ashford

Courtesy of CPP Sports Information

Wes Ashford

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