Adam Ward arrived in Augusta with an ambitious plan and little else. 11 years later, his program has sprinted past respectability and into conference, regional and national contention on an annual basis.
His tireless efforts and eye for detail and talent on the recruiting trails have spurred the Jaguars into unchartered territory. The GRU Augusta men’s cross country program, in just its second year of reinstatement in 2011, won the Peach Belt Conference Championships.
In 2012, his men’s squad placed fifth at the NCAA Southeast Regionals and had a trio make the All-Region squad. Two months before the regional, the Jags men took runner-up at the PBC Championships. Ward saw five of his Jaguars earn PBC All-Conference as well as five earning All-Academic accolades from the conference.
Competing under the name Georgia Regents University for the first time in 2013, Ward won his seventh Peach Belt Conference Coach of the Year award for guiding the men’s team, while senior Jaiden Brandt was named PBC Runner of the Year. Ward led his cast of veteran seniors and strong newcomers to three first-place finishes including a PBC Championship, and a third-place mark at the NCAA Southeast Regionals to qualify for the NCAA finals. The team ended the season at No. 3 in the NCAA Southeast Regional poll and received eight votes for a national ranking while they prepared for the NCA Championships for the first time as a team.
The GRU Augusta women’s program has made six consecutive NCAA Regional appearances, a first in the program’s history. In 2008, the Lady Jags made their first-ever NCAA Championships appearance in Slippery Rock, Pa., after finishing as the runner-up in the Southeast Regional in Wingate, N.C.
In June, 2012, GRU Augusta Athletics announced the establishment of Women’s and Men’s Outdoor Track & Field programs, which will be headed up by Ward.
The 2008 edition of the Lady Jags enjoyed unprecedented success, claiming three victories and three runner-up efforts. At the conference championships, GRU had four top-12 finishes and placed four runners on the all-conference squad.
When GRU Augusta finished second in the 2007 PBC championships, it marked the school’s best finish since 1995. GRU Augusta went on to place fifth out of 23 teams with three runners in the top 32 at the South Regional.
Under Ward’s watch, the Jags have had eight All-Southeast Region selections (Jenafer Forward in 2008; Holly Keeper in 2009; Alicia Connolly, Dustin Ross, Robert Blackwelder in 2012, Jaiden Brandt, Preston Jones, Dustin Ross 2013 ), 21 All-Peach Belt Conference selections over the last six seasons, two PBC Freshman-Of-The Year picks, and a PBC Runner of the Year.
A 2001 graduate of Murray State University with a B.S. in Exercise Science, Ward served as a volunteer assistant coach with the GRU Augusta cross country program in 2003. He assisted the Murray State cross country program in a similar role in 2001. He is a USA Track and Field Level II certified coach. Ward earned his master’s degree in Health & Physical Education from Augusta State in 2005.
Ward is a former president of the local running club Augusta Striders and as an at-large member of the Augusta Sports Council Events and Planning Committee, he was involved in the design of the course for the Augusta Chronicle Half-Marathon that was first staged in October, 2008.
A former Peach Belt Conference representative to the USTFCCCA (U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association) on the DII Executive Council, Ward is also an at-large member of the USTFCCCA Division II Awards Committee.
He is married to the former Ashlynn Young of Augusta, Ga. They are the parents of a son, Carter, and a daughter, Mary Blake.
He blazed the cross country trails at UNC Pembroke all four years of his collegiate career to earn four NCAA All-American accolades, and now he’s a Jaguar as an assistant to cross country and track field head coach Adam Ward.
Ndhlovu is entering his second year as Ward's top assistant for men's and women's cross country after joining GRU in 2013.
He continues to race around the nation and compete in marathons.On Saturday, Dec. 6, one year after placing second at the OUC Orlando Half Marathon around Lake Eola in downtown Orlando, Fla., GRU Augusta assistant cross country coach Pardon Ndhlovu was the first of 3,328 half-marathoners to cross the finish line in the 38th OUC half marathon.
From Harare, Zimbabwe, Ndhlovu garnered his first of four All-American honors after placing 30th out of 182 at the NCAA DII Cross Country National Championships in Evansville, Ind., and was named Freshman of the Year by the Peach Belt Conference in 2009. That season he was named to the USTFCCCA (United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association) All-Region Team, the PBC All-Conference team and earned PBC Runner of the Week three times.
“We are extremely fortunate to have a person with Pardon's experience and achievements joining our staff,” Ward said. “He will provide valuable insight to competing at a high level that our team will benefit from greatly."
Ndhlovu led the Braves in all eight races as a freshman and as a sophomore in 2010, repeated his PBC All-Conference honor, while adding PBC All-Academic, USTFCCCA All-Academic, and the PBC Presidential Honor Roll. He was named PBC Runner of the Week for breaking his own school record in the 8K at the Jaguars’ home meet on Oct. 23, 2010 where he finished first and assisted his team to the overall title. After placing fourth at the NCAA Southeast Regional Championships, Ndhlovu made it to the NCAA DII Championships – taking 64th at the 10K in 32:02.3.
His junior and senior years he earned USTFCCCA All-Academic and All-Region status for the third and fourth times and as a junior was named a Capital One Academic All-American, and the USTFCCCA Male Athlete of the Year for the Southeast Region. The dual track and field star could not have ended his career with UNCP in any other fashion than claiming all-American status his senior year in the 5,000m run with a time of 14:47.62 for a seventh place finish at the 2013 NCAA DII Outdoor Track and Field Championships. He was later named PBC Track Athlete of the Year and Southeast Region Men’s Track Athlete of the Year.
Gaining his B.S. in Business Administration from UNPC in May, 2013, Ndhlovu will be a graduate assistant working with middle and long distance athletes.