|Position:||Associate Head Coach|
|Alma Mater:||New Mexico|
Matt Kraft is in his eleventh season with the Red Wolves. Kraft has had a tremendous impact in developing a very competitive throwing program from the ground-up since joining A-State Track & Field in October 2007.
“It took a couple years initially, but we have been able to recruit some increasingly talented young men and women, often overlooked, who in the last few years have really elevated the performance of the throws at a national level and have put in a lot of hard work to create a culture of expectation and accountability, development and winning. I feel like we have done a good job of developing talent, where the throwers can expect to improve significantly throughout their careers as Red Wolves,” says Kraft.
In his time in Jonesboro he has produced 9 NCAA All-Americans (1st Team, 2nd Team and Honorable Mention), 16 Sun Belt Conference (SBC) champions, 27 NCAA Preliminary Championship qualifiers, 41 All-SBC performers, 9 A-State school record holders, 7 SBC all-time and championship meet records, and 52 incursions into A-State's top-10 all-time performance lists.
The 2017 season was the most successful for Red Wolves throwers to date. After a break-out 2016 season, Erin Farmer elevated her career with even better performances. During the indoor season, Farmer raised her school record in the weight throw with a new personal best mark of 20.00m/65-7.5 and smashed her previous school record of 15.93m/52-3.25 in the shot put with a new mark of 17.80m/58-4.75, which at the time was the 22nd best performance by a woman in NCAA indoor history. Farmer won her second SBC shot put title at the indoor championships and then went on to earn Second Team All-American honors by finishing in 14th place at the NCAA Indoor Championships in College Station, Texas. Farmer pushed herself yet again during the outdoor season by extending her own school record with a new personal best 18.11m/59-5, and by winning her third consecutive SBC shot put title at the outdoor championships in May. Two weeks later at the West NCAA Preliminary meet in Austin, she threw 18.12m/59-5.5 to extend her school and personal record 1 cm, which was the farthest mark out of both the East and West meets. Back at the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Farmer made the final in the women’s shot put and finished ninth place overall for Second Team All-American accolades. Farmer capped off her career as a Red Wolf by earning a sixth place medal at the USATF Outdoor Championships in Sacramento. She has also accepted an invitation from the USATF to join the Residence Program at the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center for 2017-2018 where she will train as an emerging elite athlete for development at the national and international levels.
Cristian Ravar Ladislau had an impressive junior campaign winning his first SBC title by capturing the indoor weight throw crown with a throw of 19.32m/63-4.75. His personal best throw of 20.05m/65-9.5 ranks 3rd all-time at A-State. Ravar Ladislau wasted no time outdoors as he broke a 12-year-old school record in the hammer with a throw of 66.46m/218 at the first meet of the outdoor season. He won his first hammer championship title at the SBC outdoor meet in Arlington, Texas with a brilliant series that included two PR’s and three throws that would have won the competition. His winning throw and new personal and school record was 67.33m/220-11. Ravar Ladislau finished in 5th place overall at the NCAA West Preliminary meet with a new personal best of 67.46m/221-4 to qualify for the final championships in Eugene, Ore. Ravar Ladislau earned Second Team All-American honors with a 16th place finish at the NCAA Championships, and ended his junior year representing Spain at the European U-23 Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland.
Calea Carr was A-State’s third All-American thrower of 2017. She won her first SBC title by winning the discus at the outdoor championships with a new personal best throw of 53.54m/175-8. Carr extended her personal best distance with a mark of 53.57m/175-9 at the West Preliminary to finish in 11th place, good enough to punch her ticket to the NCAA finals in Eugene and to move her up to second all-time in the discus at A-State. Carr finished in 19th position for All-American Honorable Mention.
Itamar Levi had a very good indoor season, finishing with SBC honors as the shot put runner-up at the indoor championships in February. His best throw of the indoor season, 18.22m/60-.25, ranks 2nd all-time at A-State. Levi redshirted the outdoor season for A-State, but did compete for his native Israel over the summer, winning the Israeli National Championships in both shot put and discus, and the World Jewish Games in shot put.
2016 season highlights:
*Erin Farmer -- SBC runner-up in weight throw with a school record 19.34m/63-5.5, also All-SBC indoor shot putter with third place finish and school record of 15.93m/52-3.25, after a break-out throw of 17.23m/56-6.5 at the Baylor Invitational Erin won the SBC outdoor championship in shot put with a throw of 17.80m/58-4.75 which smashed the SBC Championship record, A-State school record, and eclipsed the Olympic Automatic qualifying standard of 17.75m/58-3, finished in 4th place at the West Preliminary to advance to final NCAA Championships, placed 10th in Eugene for Second-Team All-American honors in shot put, was selected for the USATF National team to compete in the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletics Association (NACAC) Under-23 Outdoor Championships, won shot put bronze medal for USA at NACAC U-23 in San Salvador, El Salvador, returned to Eugene to compete in US Olympic Trials in shot put.
*Itamar Levi -- Redshirted indoor season after transferring from Oklahoma State University in Fall 2015, All-SBC Runner-up finish in shot put with a throw of 18.59m/61 which was second all-time at A-State, did not throw discus in over two years prior to coming to A-State then broke the 25-year-old A-State discus record with throw of 57.28/187-11, was also All-SBC performer in discus with second place finish, qualified to NCAA West Preliminary in both events placing 16th in shot put and 20th in discus, Israeli national champion shot put.
*Cristian Ravar Ladislau – All-SBC runner-up in hammer throw as sophomore with mark of 63.26m/207-6 which was second best performance in A-State history, NCAA West Preliminary qualifier in hammer throw.
*Calea Carr -- Second consecutive All-SBC discus performance with third place finish, qualified to NCAA West Preliminary in discus.
2015 season highlights:
*Richie Chavez -- Won indoor SBC Championship in shot put by breaking the championship meet record with a throw of 19.61m/64-4, All-SBC third place finish indoor weight throw, 13th place finish at NCAA Indoor Championships earning Second-Team All-American honors, won third consecutive conference championship in shot put at outdoor SBC Championships and was All-SBC third place finisher in discus throw, had 8th best performance at the West Preliminary and finished his career with another Second-Team All-American performance in shot put in Eugene.
*Erin Farmer -- All-SBC third place medalist indoor weight throw, NCAA Outdoor Preliminary qualifier in shot put placing 19th.
*Calea Carr – Freshman took third in discus throw at outdoor championship meet with throw of 52.36m/171-9 for All-SBC honors, outdoor NCAA Preliminary qualifier in discus.
2014 season highlights:
*Richie Chavez -- distinguished himself as the best shot putter in Arkansas State history with a throw of 20.06m/65-9.75 indoors, which shattered a 15 year old school record by more than five feet, Sun Belt Conference Indoor shot put champion, sixth place finish at the NCAA Indoor National Championships with a throw of 19.47m/63-10.5 for First-Team All-American honors, redshirted the 2014 outdoor season, but his indoor season best performance was the 19th ranked mark in the entire U.S. and qualified him to throw at the USATF Outdoor Championships.
*Christopher Nicasio -- All-SBC third place finish indoor weight throw, All-SBC runner-up outdoor in the hammer throw, finished 7th place in the hammer throw with a mark of 62.58m/205-4 at the NCAA West Preliminary to qualify to final NCAA Championships, finished in 20th place in Eugene to earn Honorable-Mention All-American status in the hammer throw.
2013 season highlights:
* Julia Agawu -- Indoor SBC weight throw champion, Indoor SBC runner-up shot put, school record weight throw 19.31m/63-4.25, third consecutive SBC discus championship, SBC Outdoor Championship discus throw meet record and school record 54.59m/179-1, SBC runner-up hammer throw, ASU outdoor shot put school record, ASU hammer throw school record, NCAA West Preliminary Championship qualifier in discus and hammer.
* Christopher Nicasio -- Indoor SBC weight throw champion, second consecutive SBC hammer throw championship, SBC Outdoor Championship hammer throw meet record 62.45m/204-11, NCAA West Preliminary Championship qualifier in hammer.
* Richie Chavez -- All-SBC discus, NCAA West Preliminary Championship qualifier in shot put.
2012 season highlights:
* Christopher Nicasio -- SBC hammer throw champion, SBC Outdoor Championship hammer throw meet record 61.84m/202-11, NCAA West Preliminary Championship qualifier in hammer throw.
* Richie Chavez -- Outdoor SBC runner-up shot put, ASU outdoor shot put record 18.43m/60.5.75, NCAA West Preliminary Championship qualifier in shot put.
* Julia Agawu -- All-SBC third place weight throw, ASU weight throw record 18.53m/60-9.5, SBC discus champion, two-time SBC discus champion, All-SBC third place hammer throw, ASU hammer throw record 56.53m/185-5, NCAA West Preliminary Championship qualifier in discus.
Kraft served as an assistant coach at the University of New Mexico as a volunteer in charge of the throwing program prior to his arrival at A-State. In his five years (2003-07) at New Mexico, the Lobos throwers won two Mountain West Conference titles and produced nine all-conference performances. His throwers also qualified for the NCAA Regional Championships 13 times with one automatic qualifier to the national championships. In all, Kraft’s student-athletes rewrote five University of New Mexico school records.
“It has been my goal for the throws at A-State to be a dynamic program that is a dominant force in the Sun Belt Conference that can help the team win conference championships," said Kraft. "I also consider it a vital part of my duty as a coach to be a mentor to the young men and women I work with and help them develop not just athletically, but also personally. We will pursue excellence in all that we do, and our athletes are confident that in the way we train, they will definitely develop and improve.”
Kraft’s experience in the throwing events began when he threw at Colorado State University under nationally-respected throwing coach Brian Bedard in the early 1990’s. He has also had the opportunity to work directly with legendary throwing coach Art Venegas of UCLA (retired) and the CVOTC. Prior to his stint at New Mexico, Kraft spent six years in the United States Army and as a NCO was responsible for the training, health, welfare, development and preparedness of soldiers under his charge. He also served as a flight instructor for enlisted helicopter crewmember training. Kraft is a 2003 graduate of the University of New Mexico with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. He graduated Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a 4.02 grade point average. In 2007, Kraft received his Master of Science degree from the University of New Mexico in Physical Education with specialization in Sports Administration. He graduated with a cumulative 4.05 gpa.
Kraft is a certified Strength & Conditioning Coach through the USTFCCCA.
Kraft and wife, Tanjia, who hails from Germany, have two daughters, Cailin and Elise, and a son, Logan.