Art Venegas enters his 23rd year on the Bruin coaching staff. Venegas is regarded as the premier collegiate women and men's throwing coach in the nation and is world-renowned for his coaching expertise with elite world championship athletes.
In 2003, junior Cari Soong anchored the Bruin women's throwers. At the Pac-10 Championships, she won the hammer throw with a then-personal best and meet record 215-11. The mark was also a new school record, breaking the previous mark of 215-0 set by Christina Tolson in 2001. Soong continued her success by winning the hammer at the NCAA West Regional in a new personal best and school record 216-3. At the NCAA Outdoor, she placed fifth (208-3) and earned her sixth All-America honor, the second of the year. At the NCAA Indoor, she placed third in the 20 lb. weight throw with a personal best throw of 67-4.75, breaking up a one-two-three finish by Florida, and earned the fifth All-America honor of her career.
Also in 2003, Jessica Cosby defended her Pac-10 title, winning with a throw of 55-7.75. Briona Reynolds qualified for the finals of the NCAA Outdoor shot put, throwing 52-0, but was unable to compete in the final due to a sprained ankle incurred during the qualifying rounds.
At the 2002 NCAA Outdoor, the Bruin women's second-place team finish was sparked by an NCAA record tying five individual champions, including a new NCAA mark of four field event winners, led by throwers, junior Chaniqua Ross (discus, 182-0) and freshman Jessica Cosby (shot put, 57-0.25, personal-best, No. 6 in school history). Cosby added Indoor All-America honors to her Outdoor title for the second consecutive year and was ranked No. 4 in the U.S. In 2001, she became the first athlete in U.S. Junior women's history to win both the shot put (54-8.75) and hammer throw (182-10) at the Junior National Championships.
Along with her 2002 NCAA Outdoor discus crown, Ross won the Pac-10 title for the second consecutive season, set a personal-best 188-6 (No. 7 in school history) and was ranked No. 8 in the U.S. Soong, the 2000 U.S. Junior hammer throw champion, received All-America honors in the hammer and weight throw in 2002. Saye was an All-American at the 2002 NCAA Outdoor in the discus (5th, 175-2) and was fourth at the Pac-10.
One of the top Juniors in the world, Reynolds placed 12th in the shot put at the 2002 World Junior meet and was second in the shot put (54-2, tied personal best) and third in the discus at the U. S. Junior meet. In 2002, Reynolds earned All-America honors in the discus (top-eight Americans) at the NCAA Outdoor and scored in both the shot put and discus at the Pac-10.
At the 2002 USA meet, Sua placed second in the shot put and fourth in the discus. In the U. S. rankings, she was No. 2 in the shot put (60-8.75) and No. 4 in the discus (206-4). In 2001, Sua placed sixth (209-1) in the discus at the World Outdoor. And, at the USA Outdoor, she won both the discus (207-10) and shot put (58-11.50). It was Sua's fourth consecutive USA Outdoor discus title and first-ever shot put crown.
In the 1990s, the Bruin women shot putters scored in the top four at all but one NCAA meet.
Venegas has guided Bruin women and men to conference titles in all four throws events. Since 1990, UCLA women and men throwers have won a total of 49 individual conference titles. Bruin women have won 13 of the last 14 shot put championships, 11 of the last 13 women's discus titles and four of the last six women's hammer crowns. Bruin men have won eight of the last 13 shot put crowns.
In 2003, Cosby defended her shot put title. Soong won her first conference title and set a meet record in the hammer throw (215-11). And, Dan Ames was a double winner, claiming the shot put and discus titles. In 2002, Ross defended her discus championship. For the men, Scott Wiegand won the shot put title and Moser defended his discus crown. In 2001, as a senior, Christina Tolson won her third conference individual title, winning the shot put and hammer throw. It was the second consecutive season that Tolson set a meet record in the hammer throw (214-7).
In 2000, Seilala Sua won her fifth (shot put, 56-9.50) and sixth (discus, 205-1) conference titles. Joining Sua was Tolson, who won her first Pac-10 title in the hammer (208-5, meet record). In 1999, Sua became the first women's athlete in Pac-10 history to win three throwing events. She won the shot put (57-11), discus (199-9) and javelin (161-2). Also in 1999, Wade Tift won the shot put title, throwing 60-4.
During their Bruin careers, John Godina won six conference titles (three each, shot put and discus), Dawn Dumble won seven (three shot put, four discus) and Sua won six (one javelin, three shot put and four discus).
Venegas' throwers have had great success at the NCAA Championships. Cosby and Ross are the most recent NCAA throwing champions under Venegas, winning the shot put and discus, respectively, in 2002. Prior to that, Sua set the marker for throwing excellence. As a senior, Sua led the Bruins to the 2000 NCAA Indoor title, the first ever in school history. At the championships, she won the shot put (56-8) and placed second in the weight throw (69-0). Outdoors, she defended her NCAA shot put and discus titles, becoming the winningest women's NCAA individual champion. At the conclusion of her Bruin career in 2000, Sua had won six NCAA outdoor titles, the most in NCAA women's outdoor track and field history.
Some of the former Bruin greats who have won NCAA titles are Valeyta Althouse (two -1995 outdoor shot put and 1996 indoor shot put), Cosby (2002 outdoor shot put), Dumble (four -1992 indoor shot put, 1993 outdoor shot put, 1995 discus and indoor shot put), Toni Lutjens (1986 discus), Tracie Millett (four - 1990 discus and indoor and outdoor shot put, 1991 indoor shot put), Ross (2002 discus), Sua (seven -1997 discus, 1998 discus, 1999 discus and outdoor shot put, 2000 discus and indoor and outdoor shot put) and Tolson (two - 2001 indoor and outdoor shot put). Under Venegas, a UCLA woman won the Outdoor shot put title four years in a row (1998-2002) and a total of seven times since 1990. Since 1995, UCLA women have won the Outdoor discus title on six occasions.
Men's NCAA Champions are Eric Bergreen (1991 indoor shot put), John Brenner (two - 1984 discus and outdoor shot put), World Champion Godina (five - 1994 indoor shot put and discus, 1995 discus and indoor and outdoor shot put), Greg Johnson (1995 javelin), Baltimore Ravens All-Pro offensive lineman Jonathan Ogden (1996 indoor shot put) and Erik Smith (1993 javelin).
In the 1990's, Venegas' javelin throwers claimed two national titles, along with several top-eight finishes. In 1998, senior Josh Johnson, son of Bruin great Rafer Johnson, was fourth at the NCAA Championships and placed second in the javelin (248-7) at the U.S. Nationals.
In the shot put, UCLA men's throwers have scored at the NCAA Indoor or Outdoor Championships every year from 1983-1999. The Bruin women shot putters have scored in the top-four at all but two NCAA meets.
Four athletes coached by Venegas, have broken collegiate records in the shot put and discus. Althouse, Brenner, Dumble and Godina have each held a collegiate record. Althouse set a shot put record of 61-10.25 in 1995. The mark stands as the top mark by an American-born collegian. Brenner set a collegiate shot put record of 71-11 in 1984, followed by an American record of 73-10 in 1987. Dumble set a NCAA Indoor record of 58-10.75 in the shot put in 1995. And, Godina set the NCAA meet and collegiate record of 72-2.25 in the shot put in 1995.
Last season, Sua was ranked No. 2 in the shot put (58-0.50) and No. 3 in the discus (203-2) in the U.S. In 2002, she was ranked No. 2 in the shot put (60-8.75) and No. 4 in the discus (206-4) in the U.S. At the U.S. National Championships, she placed second in the shot put and fourth in the discus. In 2001, Sua placed sixth in the discus (209-1) at the World Outdoor Championships. At the U.S. Championships, she won the discus (207-10) and shot put (personal best 58-11.50). It was Sua's fourth consecutive U.S. Outdoor discus title and first shot put crown.
At the 2000 Olympics, Sua placed 10th in the women's discus (196-4). At the Olympic Trials, she won the discus with a throw of 216-2, the No. 2 All-time mark in U.S. history. At the 1999 World Championships, Sua placed sixth in the discus (209-1), the highest finish ever by an American woman in the event. She also repeated as the U.S. discus champion. In 1998, as a sophomore, Sua won the discus title at the 1998 U.S. National Championships.
For 10 years, Venegas was the throwing and weight training coach for Jackie Joyner-Kersee, who was named the Greatest Female Athlete of the 20th Century by Sports Illustrated for Women in January 2001. He has also planned the strength training routines for many of the world's top sprinters, including former Bruin greats Ato Bolden, Gail Devers, Steve Lewis, Mike Marsh and Kevin Young, along with USC standout Quincy Watts.
Venegas' influence on his athletes goes beyond the field of competition. Several throwers have gone into the collegiate coaching ranks. Among them are Don Babbitt at Georgia, Brian Blutreich (1989-90 Pac-10 discus champion) at North Carolina, Dawn Dumble (four-time NCAA Champion) and her brother Dave Dumble (1996-97 discus All-American) at Arizona State, John Frazier (1985-86 outdoor shot put All-American) at Arizona and Greg Hodel at Long Beach State.
Venegas has been a keynote speaker on numerous occasions.
In October 2002, he spoke at the NATFCA Congress, held in San Juan, Puerto Rico. That September, he was invited to be a featured speaker for the Pan Am Coaches in San Antonio, TX.
In October 1998, Venegas was named one of the 100 most influential Hispanics in the U.S. by Hispanic Business Magazine. In 1996, he lectured for one week at Crystal Palace in London on the rotational shot put. In October 1993, Venegas lectured at the North American and Caribbean IAAF Clinic in Nassau, Bahamas. In October 1992, he was a key speaker at the IAAF strength symposium in Salinas, Puerto Rico.
In December 1990, Venegas was invited to lecture at the level three coaches program for the Caribbean and North American region in Puerto Rico. In October of that year, he was invited to speak at the TAC Throws Summit in Indianapolis.
In November 1988, Venegas spoke at the 11th World Congress of the International Track and Field Coaches Association in Barcelona, Spain. He also worked with the Spanish National Throws squad in Madrid, Spain in 1988. In January 1987, Venegas was a featured speaker on the throws at the IAAF European Coaching Congress. In November 1987, he coordinated a weeklong camp for British throwers in London as a guest of the IAAF.
Since his arrival in Westwood in 1981, Venegas has coached his Bruin throwers to 33 NCAA individual titles (men-11: seven outdoors, four indoors; women-22: 15 outdoors, seven indoors), a level that no other university approaches.
Prior to coming to UCLA, Venegas coached at Long Beach State (1980-81) and at his alma mater, Cal State Northridge (1976-79). At Long Beach State, Venegas coached Bill Green, hammer thrower and former U.S. record-holder (255-0), who placed fifth at the 1984 Olympics. Venegas also coached 1984 Olympic Trials shot put finalist Mike Smith (64-10).
A shot put and discus performer at St. Genevieve High School in Panorama City, Venegas became a standout at Cal State Northridge following his 1970 high school graduation. At Northridge, he was a four-year letterman in the hammer throw and earned Division II All-America honors in 1974.
Born in Tepic, Mexico, Venegas, 51, and his wife, the former Marlene Estrada, have two children, Jessica and Yvette.