Sprints and hurdles coach Joanna Hayes named as USC assistant

USC Director of Track & Field Quincy Watts has announced that Joanna Hayes will be the assistant coach, and in charge of the sprints and hurdles.

Joanna Hayes, the 2004 Olympic 100m hurdles gold medalist was named assistant coach, sprints and hurdles by USC Director of Track & Field Quincy Watts, it was announced today (July 12). This will be Hayes’ sixth season of working with the USC track and field program, the first two as an assistant coach and the last three as a volunteer assistant coach. She now transitions back to a full-time assistant coach for the 2021-22 season.

Joanna Hayes leading some the world’s best

In addition to her work with the Trojans the last three years, Hayes has worked closely with the post-collegiate development of 400m hurdlers Rai Benjamin, third on the men’s all-time list and current women’s world record-holder Sydney McLaughlin.

During the 2021 season Hayes was instrumental in working with the USC 400m hurdlers on their workouts and race patterns. Anna Cockrell won both the NCAA 100m hurdles and 400m hurdles titles and Cameron Samuel earned All-America honors by placing third at the NCAA Championships.  They both also won 2021 Pac-12 titles in their events.

READ MORE: McLaughlin favorite to win 400m hurdles in latest Tokyo Olympics odds

Hayes was named the 2018 West Region Women’s Track Assistant Coach of the Year by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).  Hayes guided USC’s short hurdlers to first, second, third, fifth and seventh at the Pac-12 Championships to score 30 points in the event and help lead the Trojans to the team title.  Four of the hurdlers advanced to the NCAA Championships in the 100m hurdles, with all four ranking inside the USC all-time top seven in the event.

Hayes led several collegiate athletes to success

She also guided Cockrell to the Pac-12 title in the 400m hurdles, and Cockrell and Shante Robinson advanced to the NCAA Championships in the event. Cockrell earned 18.5 points at the Pac-12 meet and went on to place second in the 400m hurdles at the NCAA Championships.  She also worked with the men’s 400m hurdlers on technique and Rai Benjamin won the NCAA title with a time of 47.02, tying for the then second-fastest ever recorded, setting the USC and collegiate records.

MORE READ: Sydney McLaughlin smashes 400m hurdles world record at U.S. Olympic Trials

Cameron Samuel also rapidly improved and ran a PR of 50.29 to take second at the Pac-12 Championships, behind Benjamin. She also helped guide the Trojan sprinters, with the women’s 4x100m relay team setting the then school record with a time of 42.57 to win at the Mt. SAC Relays.  Hayes also guided Cockrell to a second-place finish in the 60m hurdles with a time of 7.93 at the NCAA Indoor Championships.  That time ranks third on USC’s all-time indoor list.

The 2017 season was her first at USC and Hayes helped guide Trojan athletes to five All-America honors during the outdoor season and one during the indoor season.  Her work with Cockrell helped lead her to indoor 60m hurdles and outdoor 100m hurdles and 400m hurdles All-America status.  Cockrell also set the USC freshman records in the 60m hurdles and 400m hurdles.

Cockrell and Amalie Iuel took second and third at the 2017 NCAA Championships in the 400m hurdles.  At the 2017 Pac-12 Championships, USC had four women in the 100m hurdles final and three in the 400m hurdles final.  USC athletes also posted four school top 10 marks during her first season of working with the hurdlers.  She also works closely with the sprinters and relay teams which posted 10 USC all-time top 10 marks during the 2017 season.

More about Hayes’ coaching resume

Hayes served as an assistant coach in the sprints and hurdles at UCLA from 2014-16, helping the Bruins earn several All-America honors in the hurdles and 4x100m relays. Hayes won a gold medal in the 100m hurdles at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, setting an Olympic record with a time of 12.37, which still ranks her as the eighth-fastest U.S. performer all-time in the event. She finished the 2004 season ranked No. 1 in the world and earned USA Track & Field’s Jesse Owens Award that year. She was also a gold medalist in the 400m hurdles at the 2003 Pan American Games.

MORE: Karsten Warholm breaks 400m hurdles world record at Oslo Diamond League

While a collegian at UCLA, Hayes captured the NCAA 400m hurdles title as a senior in 1999 and won a total of seven Pac-10 titles in the hurdles and relays. She was a six-time All-American and helped lead UCLA to three consecutive Pac-10 team titles from 1997-99 and two consecutive runner-up finishes at the NCAA Outdoor Championships from 1998-99.
 Hayes, who graduated from UCLA in 2001 with a degree in Sociology, previously had been a track and field coach at Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles for six seasons and was a coach at the Brentwood Middle School in 2003.

She is active in the community and started the Joanna Hayes Foundation, which provides support for programs and services that work to develop the whole child with healthy minds, bodies and spirits. 

Hayes and her husband Eric Thomas, have two daughters, Zoe and Aly.
 In a corresponding move, Skyler Willis remains working with the Trojans in the sprints and hurdles, but transitions into a voluntary assistant.

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