High School Running

Nesbit Mabe, Swain named head coaches

ewarnock@newsobserver.comAugust 9, 2013 

Former Olympian Joan Nesbit Mabe and veteran coach Kevin Swain will run the cross-country and track programs this year at Chapel Hill High School, CHHS Athletics Director Tod Morgan announced last week.

They will split the duties formerly handled by Ron Olsen, who helped CHHS win 18 state team championships in running before his retirement last spring.

Nesbit Mabe, a fixture on the local running scene since her days as a three-time NCAA All-American at the University of North Carolina, will head the men’s and women’s cross-country teams at CHHS. She coached the distance runners at UNC for five years.

Swain, who ran with the 1990 and 1991 4A Florida state champions in cross-country, will serve as head coach of the CHHS men’s and women’s track teams in the spring.

Before assisting Olsen for the last four years, Swain formerly was head coach of the Cedar Ridge girls’ track team, the 2A state runners-up in track in 2009. Swain also has served as an assistant at East Chapel Hill.

This school year, Swain will assist Nesbit Mabe with the cross-country teams in the fall, and Nesbit Mabe will assist Swain with the track and field teams in the spring.

“Our student-athletes will benefit greatly from Joan’s Olympic and world-class training expertise, and Kevin’s high school and collegiate coaching background,” Morgan said Friday. “They will make a great team.”

Nesbit Mabe won All-American accolades in cross-country indoor track and outdoor track at UNC. She ran the 10,000-meters event for the U.S. team in the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, and she still holds the UNC record in the 10K. She was the U.S. champion in 1995 in cross-country in the 3,000 meters indoors in 1996, the same year she won bronze in the World Indoor Championships’ 3K.

Nesbit Mabe has shown a special love for off-road running since graduating from UNC. She’s proud of founding the annual Pumpkin Run that’s held each October in Carolina North Forest and says her personal favorite race is the Uwharrie Mountain Run.

She’s also coached several local road race champions as well as Olympic Trials qualifiers.

Before coming to North Carolina, Swain helped found a country-country program at Florida’s John Leonard High School that within four seasons finished fourth in the state meet.

Swain said he would always be willing to seek advice from Olsen, who was voted a “coach of the year” 42 times in 40 years of high school coaching in North Carolina and Michigan.

“Because I have worked for him, I know that he is someone I can go to for advice as both a friend, mentor and fellow coach,” Swain said.

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