Coaching four teams that have achieved national prominence, Adam Ward is entering his 15th season as the head coach of the Augusta University cross country and men’s and women’s track and field teams.
Ward arrived in Augusta with an ambitious plan and his cross country programs have 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 Augusta University men’s cross country program, in just its second year of reinstatement in 2011, won the Peach Belt Conference Championships.
In June, 2012, Augusta University Athletics announced the establishment of women’s and men’s outdoor track & field programs, which are both coached by Ward.
Ward picked up his eighth PBC Coach of the Year award in the 2017 season for guiding the men to a PBC Championship, a No. 6 regional ranking, and a trip to the NCAA Championships. Six Jaguar men were named All-Conference and four All-Region. On the women’s side, the 2017 squad placed runner-up at the PBC Championships and sixth at the NCAA Regional. Three earned All-Conference and All-Region honors for Augusta, while Micah Weathers was named the PBC Freshman of the Year.
Both cross country teams were ranked in the top 10 in 2016 and had a combined total of five Peach Belt All-Conference selections, three All-Region runners, and the PBC’s Female Freshman of the Year.
Ward’s 2015-16 cross country squads both earned a top-10 regional ranking and had an individual reach the NCAA Championships. The Jaguar men finished top 10 in all six meets and top five in five of the six while Del Guercio was named the Peach Belt Runner of the Year. The Augusta women placed in the top 10 in all six meets and Rodriguez was named All-Conference.
In 2014, Ward's men's and women's cross country teams earned the DII Award of Excellence from the NCAA for their collaboration and hosting the event with Fort Gordon Military Base during the hosting of the 2014 Peach Belt Conference Cross Country Championships on Nov. 8. Both his squads earned DII Scholar of the Year awards from the NCAA for academic excellence.
That same year, the men had three named All-Conference, one was named All-Region, and they finished eighth in the final USTFCCCA Southeast Region rankings. His women's squad saw two make PBC All-Conference and two named All-Academic, while the team finished seventh in the final USTFCCCA Southeast Region rankings. The women finished in the top 10 in all six races and top five in three races.
Ward won his seventh Peach Belt Conference Coach of the Year award in the 2013 season 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.
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.
The Jaguar 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.
The 2008 edition of the Lady Jags enjoyed unprecedented success, claiming three victories and three runner-up efforts. At the conference championships, the Jags had four top-12 finishes and placed four runners on the all-conference squad.
When Augusta finished second in the 2007 PBC championships, it marked the school’s best finish since 1995. The Jaguars 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 10 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, Nick Del Guercio and Jordan Humphrey 2014), 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 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.