Jason Wakenight is entering his seventh season at the University of Iowa track and field staff as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator.
His primary responsibilities include men’s and women’s long sprints and long hurdles, and men’s and women’s middle distances.
During the 2022 indoor season, Wakenight was named USTFCCCA Regional Men’s Assistant Coach of the Year. He helped coach the Hawkeye men to their second-consecutive Big Ten Indoor Championship, scoring 54 points from the 400-meter, 600-meter, 800-meter and 4x-400-meter squads. Wakenight coached the 4×400-meter relay and Jenoah McKiver (600 meters) to Big Ten Championship titles, while adding two additional individual Big Ten medalists and nine individual point-scorers across the 400-, 600- and 800-meters. Wakenight was part of a coaching staff that guided the Hawkeye men to a top-15 national USTFCCCA Rating Index during the entire 2022 indoor season and ended the season as the No. 1 team in the Midwest Region USTFCCCA Rating Index. Both event squads under Coach Wakenight ranked in the top-11 of the USTFCCCA Rankings at year’s end (400m, No. 2; 800m, No. 11). The 400m group was ranked No. 1 for three weeks. The Iowa men broke three school records under the guidance of Coach Wakenight (400m, 600m, 4x400m relay) and he coached three first team All-American men in the 400 meters – including NCAA runner-up Jenoah McKiver – at the NCAA Indoor Championships. Additionally, he coached the 4×400-meter relay team to a second-team All-America performance. Additionally, Wakenight led the women’s 4×400-meter relay to a First Team All-America finish. During the outdoor season, the Hawkeyes finished as Big Ten runners-up on the men’s side and sixth place on the women’s side. Julien Gillum became the third-consecutive Hawkeye 400-meter hurdler to claim the Big Ten Title in the event (Jamal Britt – 2021, Chris Douglas – 2019). Jenoah McKiver broke the outdoor 400-meter school record, and Wakenight produced an All-American in the women’s 400-meter hurdles in Erin Dowd. The Hawkeyes qualified a men’s 4×400-meter relay team for the fifth-straight season and finished as First Team All-Americans.
In 2021, Wakenight qualified five athletes to the 2021 NCAA Outdoor Championships finals site. The men’s 4×400 relay placed fifth in the NCAA finals, putting together the third-fastest time in program history to secure first-team All-America honors. Wakenight’s athletes won four Big Ten medals and contributed 41.5 points towards Iowa’s school record 119 points and a team title at the Big Ten Indoor Championships. On the women’s side, Mallory King ran the fastest 800 meters in the Big Ten and qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships. At the Big Ten Outdoor Championships, Wakenight coached three Big Ten medalists, including runners-up Wayne Lawrence, Jr. (400 meters) and Tysen VanDraska (800 meters) and the third-place men’s 4×400 relays. Eight of his athletes contributed 35.5 points toward Iowa’s championship and school record total of 127.5 at Big Ten Championships. Iowa won the team title for the second straight year.
During the 2020 indoor season, Wakenight coached five of Iowa’s nine NCAA qualifiers set to compete at the championships. All five earned All-America honors. Wayne Lawrence collected three gold medals at the Big Ten Indoor Championships (200 meters, 400 meters, 1,600-meter relay). The 1,600-meter relay, consisting of Wayne Lawrence, DeJuan Frye, Raymund Clarke, and Antonio Woodard, broke the school record at the conference meet. Under Wakenight’s coaching, three school records were broken in the indoor season. Wayne Lawrence earned the Big Ten Track Athlete of the Championships and was later named the Big Ten Indoor Track Athlete of the Year, the first Hawkeye to ever receive this honor.
The 2019 season consisted of nine All-Americans — three first team and six second team — under Wakenight’s coaching, including the men’s 1,600-meter relay team that included Collin Hofacker, Karayme Bartley, Wayne Lawrence Jr., and Mar’yea Harris. The group finished fourth at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships and broke the Iowa school record (3:00.14). The 1,600-meter relay squad, including Lawrence Jr., Antonio Woodard, Karayme Bartley, and Mar’yea Harris, also earned first team All-America honors, as well as Bartley in the 200 meters at the NCAA Indoor Championships. At the Big Ten Championships, Wakenight’s group scored a collective 113 points — 48 indoor and 65 outdoor — and included three 1,600-meter relay titles and the outdoor 400-meter title from Harris, earning first team All-Big Ten honors. Bartley tallied three second team honors in the 200 and 400 meters. During the indoor season, Harris was named Big Ten Athlete of the Week on February 6.
In 2018, the men’s 1,600-meter relay advanced to the NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Championships, placing ninth at both events to earn second team All-America honors. The men’s distance medley relay set an indoor school record in 9:33.90 and won the Big Ten Indoor Championship for the first time in program history. The men’s 1,600-meter relay won the Drake Relays title to help Iowa win the Hy-Vee Cup for the second year in a row. Wakenight helped Mar’yea Harris win the Big Ten Outdoor title, racing a school-record 400 meters in 44.98. Harris reset his own school record at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, placing fourth in 44:94. Wakenight led Matt Manternach to the final site of the NCAA Outdoor Championships, where he placed 17th to earn All-America honorable mention in the 800 meters. He also helped DeJuan Frye place fourth at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships for the second year in a row, and saw Carter Lilly run 1:46.95 in the 800 meters at the U.S. Outdoor Championships.
In 2017, Wakenight’s middle distance group paved the way for Iowa’s best finish in 50 years at the NCAA Championships. Under Wakenight’s leadership, the middle distance group combined to set or reset nine school records including a school-record setting 3:02.57 in the men’s 4×400 meters at the NCAA Championships to finish third overall; the program’s highest finish in that event. In addition, the men’s 4×800 meters won their first Drake Relays title since 1939 with the third fastest time in Iowa history (7:24.77) and Carter Lilly (1:47.33) broke Erik Sowinski’s school record in the indoor 800 meters. In total, Wakenight’s group amassed 10 All-America honors in 2017.
In 2016, Wakenight led both the men’s 400- and 1,600-meter relays to NCAA Championships appearances, including a berth in the final site for the 400-meter relay. He helped Will Teubel earn second team All-America honors in the indoor season, and saw Carter Lilly, Pavlo Hutsalyuk, and Mahnee Watts advance to the NCAA Championships in the outdoor 800 meters. Mitch Wolff also advanced to the NCAA final site in the 400-meter hurdles for the second year in a row.
In his first season on Iowa’s staff, Wakenight coached four NCAA qualifiers and guided the men’s 4×400 relay back to the NCAA postseason for the first time in three seasons while earning a bronze medal at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships. He also guided Mitch Wolff to second team All-America honors in the 400-meter hurdles. Wakenight saw Will Teubel to a third-place finish in the 800 meters at the Big Ten Championships and coached Katharina Trost to the fifth-fastest 800-meter time in school history (2:07.09).
Prior to joining the Hawkeyes, Wakenight was an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Loyola University.
From 2012-14, he helped the Ramblers set 51 school records and record 236 top ten all-time marks in school history, crown 26 league champions, and earn three NCAA All-America honors. He coached 32 conference finalists in the men’s and women’s 800 meters and 33 conference finalists in the men’s and women’s 400 meters. The Loyola men won two Horizon League championships and placed runner-up three times, and the Loyola women won three conference titles.
Before joining the Loyola staff, Wakenight was a volunteer assistant coach for the Hawkeyes from 2006-11. He helped coach 11 Big Ten champions and 16 All-Americans in his final two seasons at Iowa, and was on staff when the Hawkeyes won the 2011 Big Ten Outdoor Championship.
Before assisting the Iowa coaching staff, Wakenight was a three-year letterwinner for the Hawkeyes from 2004-06. He was a two-time NCAA qualifier in the 1,600-meter relay, and was named UI men’s track and field student-athlete of the year in 2006. He graduated in 2006 with a Bachelor of Arts in English.