CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Virginia director of track and field and cross country Vin Lananna announced today (Oct. 1) that LaRon Bennett has joined the Virginia program. Bennett will coach the sprints, hurdles and relays for the Cavaliers. He comes to UVA after heading up the program at Belhaven University (Jackson, Miss.) since 2019.
“We are pleased to welcome LaRon Bennett to our team of coaches at Virginia,” Lananna said. “His background as both a coach and top-level competitor will be invaluable to our student-athletes. Having been a head coach at Belhaven and Drake will allow him to assist our program in a number of areas. We are looking forward to having him work with our sprinters, hurdlers and relay teams.”
At Division III Bellhaven, Bennett served as the director of track and field and cross country. He managed all aspects of the program, saw the program host its first home meet and the American Southwest Conference Outdoor Championships and was involved in the development and planning for a $1.8 million outdoor track facility. In just three seasons, his student-athletes posted 20 all-time top-10 school performances, two All-American and conference champions and seven were ranked in the top-10 national performance lists.
“In my coaching career, my purpose has always been to build relationships, maintain high academic standards and establish success through hard work and commitment,” Bennett said. “After several conversations with Coach Lananna, it was apparent that my purpose and his vision for the program were a perfect match. I am excited and honored to be joining the UVA family.”
From 2012 to 2017, Bennett was on the staff at Drake, serving as the Bulldogs interim co-head coach in his final season in Des Moines. During his tenure, Drake student-athletes earned nine Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Elite 18 awards, given on the basis of the highest GPA combined with the highest event finisher at the conference meet. He coached nine student-athletes in NCAA first round competition with four MVC champions.
Bennett started his coaching path at his alma mater, Georgia, where he worked as a volunteer assistant. During his tenure with the Bulldogs he coached two SEC champions and 18 All-Americans.
While competing at Georgia, Bennett was a three-time All-American in the 400-meter hurdles (2003-2005) and team captain for one of the top squads in the country.
Bennett competed in the 400-meter hurdles in four United States Olympic Trials (2004, 2008, 2012, 2016) with a semifinal appearance in 2012. He was a silver medalist in the 4×400 relay and a bronze medalist in the 400-meter hurdles at the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He finished sixth in the 400-meter hurdles at the USATF Championships in 2010.
A native of Brunswick, Ga., Bennett earned his undergraduate degree from Georgia in child and family development and has a master’s in secondary education from the University of Phoenix. He and his wife, Kali, have a son, Malachi, and daughter, Naomi.