Effective July 1, 2014, Jim Blaisdell will ride off into the sunset after 33 years as part the Weber State University track and field program. He will leave a legacy of hard work and winning behind him, but athletic director Jerry Bovee said he feels that those who follow him will keep the tradition going.
Dan Walker has been named the director of track and field and the head coach of the men’s and women’s programs. Paul Pilkington has been named as associate head coach for track and field, and he will continue as head coach of the cross-country program.
“This is an exciting transition for our track and field programs at Weber State,” Bovee said. “We have a long history of success in track and field established by Chick Hislop and Jim Blaisdell. Having Dan and Paul now take over will provide continued momentum with no disruption to our program. They are both veteran coaches with long ties to the program and will help us toward our goals of continuing to win championships and having success in the classroom.”
Instead of looking elsewhere, the athletic department made the necessary changes within the program. Walker, an Ogden native, ran for the Wildcats as a distance runner under Hislop, graduating in 1975. Before that, he ran for Ben Lomond High School, where he still holds the school record in the mile run.
After working at St. Benedict’s Hospital for 12 years, Walker was hired as a part-time assistant track and field coach at WSU in 1984. Two years later, he was promoted to a full-time assistant coach. He filled that vacancy for 18 years, until 2004, when he was promoted to associate head coach for track and field.
“I’m very excited to have the opportunity to lead both programs at Weber State, and I’m grateful that the administration had the confidence in me for this new position,” Walker said. “I’ve worked with both the men’s and women’s programs since I’ve been here, and I’m looking forward to continuing with both teams. I’ve learned everything I know about track and field from Chick Hislop and Jim Blaisdell, so I just want to continue in their footsteps and build on what they did.”
During his tenure, Walker guided the Wildcats to the 2008 Big Sky Championships and coached many different athletes to All-American honors. With those honors came the chance to coach three different national champions.
Pilkington, who has coached the women’s cross-country team to three straight Big Sky titles, brings a loaded resume to the Wildcats. During his seven-year tenure, he has coached 13 All-Americans, who have garnered 18 All-American honors, one of them being an Olympian.
The Blackfoot, Idaho, native was a successful runner himself under Blaisdell when he coached at Southern Idaho University. Later in his running career, Pilkington was one of the best marathon runners in the United States. He was named the 1994 USA Track and Field Marathon Champion. He also represented the USA in the 1995 World Championships in the marathon.
“I’m looking forward to working with Coach Walker and continuing to build on the success we have had at Weber State,” Pilkington said. “I’ve had a couple of great mentors in Coach Hislop and Coach Blaisdell, and I’m excited for the things we have in place here in track and field and cross-country.”