In his ninth season at the U of M, Nic Fortenberry is continuing to build the Tigers sprinters/hurdlers into contenders for conference and national titles. In all, Fortenberry has coached and 13 NCAA Championships qualifiers, 33 NCAA regional qualifiers and 19 conference champions.
In 2014, Fortenberry's sprinters and hurdlers continued to break program-records and compete on a national level. Under his tutelage, Maya Williamson continued to thrive in the 800m and 400m hurdles. Williamson lowered the indoor 800m program-record to 2:06.30 winning silver and earning All-American Athletic Conference honors at the American Indoor Track and Field Championship. In outdoor competition, Williamson earned All-American Athletic Conference honors in the 400m hurdles taking bronze at the American Outdoor Track and Field Championships. At the 2014 NCAA East Preliminary, Williamson broke her own program-record in the 400m hurdles with a time of 57.81.
On the men's side, freshmen Aaron Persinger and LaForrest Church excelled in both of their rookie campaigns. Church earned All-American Athletic Conference honors with a gold medal performance in the 800m at the American Outdoor track and Field Championship. As the season progressed, Persinger continued to lower his time in the 400m hurdles running a season-best of 52.83 during the preliminary round of the American Athletic Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Both Persinger and Church each qualified to the USATF Junior Nationals.
During the 2013 campaign, Fotenberry saw his women's sprinter/hurdlers group earn five All-America citations after guiding Williamson, Kala Funderburk, Monica Mason and Keyona Neal to the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Williamson, Funderburk, Mason and Neal all advanced to the national championship in the 4 x 400m relay with Williamson and Funderburk also advancing in the 400m hurdles and 400m respectively.
In the 4 x 400m relay, the group finished 15th overall to earn All-America second team honors. Funderburk also earned a second All-America citation taking second team honors with a 16th place finish in the 400m.
The women's sprints/hurdles group earned several All-Conference USA nods during the 2013 indoor and outdoor seasons. At the 2013 C-USA Indoor Championships, Funderburk took gold in the 400m earning All-C-USA first team honors. Willamson took silver at the event in the 800m to earn All-C-USA second team honors. Williamson, Funderburk, Mason and Neal also took sivler in the 4 x 400m earning All-C-USA second team honors.
At the C-USA Outdoor Championships, Funderburk and Williamson took silver in the 400m and 400m hurdles respectively to earn All-C-USA second team citations. Funderburk, Williamson, Mason and Neal then took gold in the 4 x 400m relay attaining All-C-USA first team honors. On the men's side, Brandon Williams took bronze in the 400m hurdles notching All-C-USA third team honors and qualified for his third NCAA East Preliminary.
The 2013 outdoor season marked the seventh consecutive year that Fortenberry sent athletes to the NCAA postseason. At the NCAA East Preliminary, the women's sprint/hurdles group of Funderburk, Williamson, Mason and Neal set new program-records as they all advanced to the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Funderburk clocked a program-record of 52.59 to advance in the 400m, with Williamson setting a new program-record in the 400m hurdles at 58.07. Funderburk, Williamson, Mason and Neal set a new program-best time in the 4 x 400m relay at a time of 3:33.65 and they advanced.
Breaking school records are nothing new for Fortenberry's athletes. In his time with the sprinters/hurdlers (and assisting with jumpers until 2011), a total of 16 school records have been set. Included on Fortenberry's record-holders list are: Tayanna Simpson (60m hurdles, 100m hurdles), Lashundra Kernshaw (60m), Inger Anne Froysedal (outdoor triple jump), Chen Edri (outdoor high jump), Aaron Evans (800m), Richard Lowe (400m hurdles) and Aaron Whetstone (triple jump).
In 2011, Fortenberry qualified seven athletes for the NCAA Regionals (Robert Jackson, Richard Lowe, Nick Harold, Brandon Williams, Tayanna Simpson and LaShundra Kershaw). Fortenberry saw Lowe qualify for the NCAA Outdoor Championships, making him the only Conference USA representative in the 400-meter hurdles at the event. Lowe earned All-America first team distinction and was named the C-USA Male Athlete of the Year.
Under Fortenberry's tutelage in 2010, Lowe and Jackson both advanced to the NCAA Outdoor Championships in hurdles. That same year, Fortenberry coached LaShundra Kershaw to the NCAA Regionals in both the 100 and 200 meters.
In 2009, five Tigers were NCAA Mideast Regional qualifiers, and two advanced regional finals in their respective events. Fortenberry had three athletes all win 2008 C-USA Outdoor Championships individual titles and also qualify for the NCAA Mideast Regionals.
In Fortenberry's first season in 2007, the Tigers sprinters, hurdlers and jumpers played a pivotal role in the men's team winning the C-USA Outdoor Championships crown. En route to the title, Willie Green (100m) Amaechi Oselukwue (110m hurdles) and Brandon Winbush (long jump, triple jump) all won gold in their respective events. Additionally, he had five athletes qualify for the NCAA postseason (Green, Oselukwue, Stephon Greenlee, Larry Harris and Winbush).
A 1992 Tylertown High School graduate, he was a valuable member of the Chiefs track and field team. His next educational stop was at Louisiana State University (LSU), where he earned his bachelor's degree in industrial education and construction management. Prior to joining the U of M staff, Fortenberry had a successful stint as a Memphis-area high school track and field coach.