Carson Blackwelder is in his eighth year with the USC Upstate cross country and track & field programs. He is in his first season as the head coach after spending five years as associate head coach and assistant coach for two years.
Since joining the Spartans in 2009, Blackwelder has taken Upstate to new heights by leading the men’s program to its first two Atlantic Sun Conference championships. He was named A-Sun Coach of the Year in 2011 after the men earned the program’s first conference championship while Gilbert Kemboi took home individual champion honors. Blackwelder received A-Sun Coach of the Year honors again in 2012 as the men recorded its second straight conference championship and Kemboi was the individual champion for the third straight year. Kemboi would later picked up All-Southeast Region accolades with a sixth-place finish and would go on to the NCAA National meet and place 42nd as an individual.
In 2011, the Upstate women had its best finish at the A-Sun Championships with a fourth-place showing and sweeping the top three positions led by Jemeli Sang as she picked up individual champion honors. She was followed by Joan Tangwar and Carolyne Chelulei. On the men’s side, both Davey Dennison and Christian Ritacco received All-Conference accolades. The Spartans also had their best showing at the NCAA Southeast Regional as the women finished 17th out of 32 schools and the men 22nd out of 34. Tangwar, Sang and Kemboi each took home All-Southeast Region honors.
Kemboi earned his first of three straight A-Sun individual championship victories in 2010 as Upstate had seven total runners collect postseason awards. The women had three athletes, Tangwar, Chelulei and Sang, named to the All-Conference, while Dennison was Second Team All-Conference and Andrew Kipchumba was selected to the All-Freshman Team.
In his first season with the Spartans in 2009, Blackwelder was recognized for coaching a pair of All-Conference women and a male A-Sun Freshman of the Year athlete.
Overall, Blackwelder has coached nine All-Conference, four Runners of the Year, three All-Freshman Team, two All-Southeast Region, one Freshman of the Year runners and one NCAA National Championship participant in Kemboi in 2012. Upstate has also excelled in the classroom with Kemboi receiving numerous academic honors including A-Sun Scholar-Athlete of the Year (2011, 2012), A-Sun Male Student-Athlete of the Year (2013), A-Sun and NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship (2013), Capital One Academic All-District (2013) and USTFCCCA Division I Cross Country All-Academic Team (2013). Sang was also named USTFCCCA Division I Cross Country All-Academic in 2011.
Blackwelder arrived at USC Upstate after spending the 2008-09 season at Morehead State. At MSU, he was responsible for all facets of the program, which included recruiting, workout regiments, budget and travel, and was the director of fundraising for the program.
Blackwelder’s program had two individuals named to the cross country All-Conference team as well as having his women’s track and field and cross country teams honored as All-Academic teams. He also coached the school’s 8K school record holder.
Prior to MSU, he spent three years as an assistant coach at Appalachian State. His primary duties at ASU were recruiting coordinator for the cross country program, while also serving as the strength and conditioning coach for the team’s distance runners.
During his tenure at ASU, the cross country and track and field programs won five men’s conference titles, three women’s conference titles, as well as four SoCon individual track and field championships. Also during Blackwelder’s time in Boone, N.C., the Mountaineers had 12 individuals named All-Conference in track and field and 11 were named All-Conference performers in cross country. Two individuals were named All-Region in cross country and four were regional qualifiers in track and field.
A native of Concord, N.C., Blackwelder was a standout at Appalachian State as a member of the cross country and track programs. He was a two-time All-Southern Conference selection and team MVP in cross country. He also received All-Conference accolades in indoor track. In outdoor track and field, Blackwelder helped the Mountaineers win four-straight conference championships.
Blackwelder resides in Spartanburg, S.C. with his wife Ashley and their daughter, Carter.