Returning to the collegiate ranks in September of 2019, Matt Kane wasted no time putting his stamp on the Florida State women’s sprints and the men’s hurdle groups.
Inherting a talented group, highlighted by returnees Ka’Tia Seymour and Jayla Kirkland in the sprints, and hurdler Trey Cunningham, the Noles flourished on all measurable levels. So too did transfer newcomer hurdlers Caleb Parker and Braxton Canady.
Not only did all six record personal-bests during the 2020 indoor season, but also recorded NCAA Indoor Championship qualifying marks.
The initial success under Kane should come as not surprise. He arrived in Tallahassee with 18 years of coaching experience and an impressive list of accomplishments, having produced six NCAA champions, an IAAF world champion and 160 first-team All-Americans between the NCAA Division I and NJCAA ranks.
Prior to joining the Noles, Kane coached professionally for four years with Austin, Texas-based Axis Athletics, where he also served as a consultant for adidas. Prior to that the Oklahoma native spent four seasons (2012-15) as the sprints and hurdles coach at Alabama and two seasons as the men’s sprints and hurdles coach at Oklahoma (2010-11).
Seymour and Cunningham were historically good in 2020. Seymour qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships in both the 60-meter dash (7.17) and 200-meter dash (22.82). Those times came at the ACC Indoor Championships where she became the first woman to win three consecutive championship track MVP honors.
Cunningham, one of three finalists for USTFCCCA Performer of the Year, finished the season ranked No. 1 collegiately in the hurdles. Unbeaten against collegiate competition, he set the ACC record (7.51) and went on to become the first three-time ACC 60-meter hurdles champion.
Both Seymour and Cunningham, who set school records in the 200 dash and 60 hurdles, respectively, were honored as ACC and South Region Track Performers of the Year.
Kane’s athletes posted 10 FSU top-10, all-time indoor marks, including four in the men’s 60 hurdles. Kirkland shares the No. 2 spot in the 60 (7.17) with Seymour, while Janae Caldwell owns the No. 4 position in the 400.
If not for the cancellation of the NCAA Indoor Championships due to the coronavirus pandemic, Kane would have likely added to the list of NCAA champions he has mentored.
Alabama’s Ramona Burchell won three sprint NCAA – two in the 60-meter dash and one in the 100-meter dash – and set the since-broken NCAA record in the 60 when she ran 7.08 to win the 2014 SEC title. In addition to Burchell’s 2014 60-meter title, Diondre Batson won the men’s indoor 200-meter title the same year. Kane’s first NCAA champion was Oklahoma’s Ronnie Ash, who won the 60-meter hurdles title in 2010. A year later it was Mookie Salaam who delivered his second NCAA crown, claiming the 200-meter indoor title.
Those efforts did not go unrecognized as Kane was selected by his peers as the 2011 Midwest Region Men’s Outdoor Assistant Coach of the Year and the 2013 South Region Men’s Outdoor Assistant Coach of the Year.
Kane cut his coaching teeth in the junior college ranks, with a five-year stint (2001-05) as the sprints coach at Butler (Kan.) County Community College. In a four-year run (2006-09) as the head coach at Barton (Kan.) County Community College, he guided the program to a sweep of the NJCAA men’s and women’s indoor titles in 2006.
Among his junior college pupils, Ryan Brathwaite became the youngest IAAF World Champion in the 110-meter hurdles in 2009, while representing Barbados. Brathwaite’s Barton teammate, Panama native Alonso Edward, won silver in the 200-meter dash behind Usain Bolt’s world record.
Not surprisingly, Kane earned NJCAA Men’s National Coach of the Year honors in 2009.
The connections Kane has made through his time in the collegiate and professional ranks have further enhanced his reputation as an elite recruiter, both domestically and abroad, where he has deep ties in the Caribbean as well as Europe.
Kane and his wife Diana have two children, Lucas and Emily.