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Mike Sergent

Mike Sergent

The 2024 season marked the 27th season for Mike Sergent with South Carolina Track & Field. His primary role is coaching the throwers and helping coordinate the strength and conditioning program. He also oversees eligibility and is the team’s academic liaison. In his 26 seasons, Sergent has coached 35 All-Americans, 56 NCAA qualifiers, 15 SEC champions and five NCAA champions at South Carolina.

The 2024 campaign saw an emergence from veteran shot putters Dylan Targgart and CJ Licata. Targgart earned bronze medal honors at both the indoor and outdoor national meet, earning a pair of First Team All-American honors along the way. Licata secured Second Team All-American honors during the outdoor season. The duo also combined for three All-SEC Second Team appearances. In addition to his success in the field, Targgart excelled academically, sweeping the SEC Indoor and Outdoor Scholar Athlete of the Year. Under Sergent’s guidance, Targgart was also named as the CSC Academic All-America Team Member of the Year for all of NCAA Division I track & field. Both Targgart and Licata scored at the SEC Outdoor Championship, with Licata earning silver and Targgart taking bronze. Targgart also earned runner-up honors during the SEC Indoor Championship in the shot put.

Sergent coached the likes of Eric Favors who finished runner-up in the outdoor SEC Championships in 2021. Later that season, Sergent coached Malik Paul to a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championship, marking the highest NCAA finish in the event by any Gamecock in program history. Favors’ illustrious career also included the fourth-best indoor shot put mark in school history (19.68m), a new Ireland indoor national record. Favors most recently qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games in the shot put.

Sergent has a reputation as one of the nation’s top developers of throwing talent and has coached the likes of Favors, Carisma Holland, Paul and Josh Awotunde. Awotunde put together arguably the best season in Carolina history in 2018, winning SEC Indoor Championship, earning bronze at the NCAA Indoor Championship, finished second at the SEC Outdoor Championship and earned silver at the NCAA Outdoor Championship. Awotunde set new shot put school records both indoor and outdoor, including a mark of 69-11 that went down as the ninth-best indoor mark in collegiate history. Awotunde also earned First Team All-American honors in 2017 and represented the Gamecocks in the shot put at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.

In 2017, Awotunde was joined as an SEC scorer by Ben Bonhurst, Eric Favors, and Alycia Springs as all four qualified for the NCAA East Regional. The 2016 campaign saw Awotunde, Kaleb Zuidema and Shelby Freedman each qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Championships, with Awotunde and Freedman snatching All-American honors.

Sergent fostered a young and talented team of throwers in 2015, featuring Awotunde as a freshman and showcasing sophomore thrower Clarence Gallop who holds the second-best hammer throw in program history.

In 2011, Michael Zajac brought home All-America honors in the weight throw and hammer throw. Five throwers qualified for the NCAA Preliminary, and his athletes earned 22 points at SEC Championship events.

On the men’s side, Zajac was the SEC bronze medalist in the weight throw and earned All-America honors by taking 7th in the weight throw at the NCAA Indoor Championships and 15th in the hammer throw at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. He concluded his career with 46 points in SEC competition and as one of two Gamecocks to score in both the hammer and weight throw in all four of his seasons.

On the women’s side, Sergent has guided the likes of Crystal Brownlee, Aimee Kodat, Stacee Roberts, Katie Vuckovich, Breanna Redford and Dawn Ellerbe. Ellerbe, who’s jersey has been retired, reached the World Championships in Paris in 2003 under Sergent’s tutelage. Sergent also worked with Ellerbe in 2002 to help her become the USATF national runner-up in both the weight and hammer throws. She finished the year ranked seventh in the world in the hammer, set the American record in the hammer, and finished ranked eighth nationally in the discus.

In 2001, two of Sergent’s former student-athletes, Snyder and Misipeka, along with Ellerbe, traveled to Edmonton, Canada, for the 2001 World Championships. In his third year at South Carolina, Sergent coached Candy Mitchell, Bert Sorin and Ryan Harrison through the U.S. Olympic trials. At the 2000 Olympic Games, Snyder, Misipeka and Michelle Fournier all competed.

Sergent had a memorable first season as he coached Lisa Misipeka and Brad Snyder to a total of four NCAA individual championships. Misipeka took home titles in the 20-pound weight and the hammer, while Snyder swept the indoor and outdoor titles in the shot put. Snyder repeated in 1999 when Sergent coached him to the indoor shot put title for the second-consecutive year.

In 1999, Sergent’s student-athletes won four SEC titles. Fournier, an academic All-American and NCAA runnerup, was awarded an NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship. Misipeka also won a bronze medal at the 1999 World Championships – the school’s first in a major international meet.

Prior to coaching at Carolina, Sergent was an assistant coach at his alma mater, Virginia Tech, for five years. At Tech, he assisted in one Metro and four Atlantic 10 Conference championship teams from 1993 to 1997.

Sergent holds a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and a master’s degree in sports management from Virginia Tech. He was a 1992 All-American and Olympic trials qualifier in the hammer. In the fall of 2012, Sergent was inducted into the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.

Sergent and his wife, Karen, have a daughter named Kelsey.