Wittenberg announces former Salisbury assistant Owen hired as head coach
SPRINGFIELD, Ohio -- Wittenberg interim director of athletics and recreation Jeff Ankrom has announced the hiring of Jay Owen as the university’s new men’s lacrosse head coach. Owen replaces George Harris, who resigned in May to take a coaching and administrative position at Pinecrest Academy in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Owen comes to Wittenberg after a lengthy affiliation with Salisbury, starting as a player from 1994-97 and continuing as an assistant coach for much of the last 15 years. A player on teams that won two national championships and three conference titles, Owen served as an assistant coach for Salisbury teams that won nine Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) championships and five NCAA Division III national titles between 1999 and 2007.
“First, I want to thank Wittenberg University, Jeff Ankrom, Joni Williamson and the search committee for the opportunity to lead the men’s lacrosse program,” Owen said. “I am excited to continue the strong athletic tradition that has been established at Wittenberg and am looking forward to the upcoming season.
“I also want to thank [Salisbury men’s lacrosse head coach] Jim Berkman for the years of mentorship and friendship that have put me into a position to become a successful head coach. My family and I are looking forward to integrating into the Wittenberg University community.”
A native of Brownville, N.Y., Owen has been involved in all facets of the Salisbury program, even while working in private business, most recently as a regional manager with Sposato Landscape. He has coached 25 All-Americans, two national player of the year award-winners and 10 national position player of the year award-winners at his alma mater.
As a student-athlete at Salisbury, Owen earned All-CAC honors in 1996 and 1997, and he earned academic awards from the university and conference following each of his four seasons in the program, in addition to serving as a team captain in 1997. As a player, Owen contributed to a then-NCAA record 47-game winning streak, bested only by Salisbury teams that he coached to 69 wins in a row a decade later.
“Coach Owen has been a tremendous asset to our program,” said Berkman, who has the most wins in NCAA men’s lacrosse history during his 26 seasons at the helm at Salisbury. “He has provided instruction and leadership on and off the field that has had a direct relationship to the 10 national championships we have been fortunate enough to win. His knowledge and character will be great assets to both the university and the men’s lacrosse program at Wittenberg.”
Wittenberg has posted five straight winning seasons and has not suffered a losing record since Harris’ first year in Springfield in 2006. The Tigers are coming off back-to-back 8-5 campaigns in 2012 and '13, and they head into the 2013-14 school year with more than 20 letterwinners expected back in the fold, including nine starters.
“We are quite pleased to welcome Jay as our next men’s lacrosse coach,” Ankrom said. “He brings a great deal of experience as a player and as an assistant coach at one of the premier programs in the nation.
“I know he will build on the solid foundation he inherits and that our student-athletes will have an outstanding experience. His emphasis on academics and building character in his players clearly came through during the interview process, and I know he will make the Wittenberg community proud.”