The 2017-18 season marks the 11th year that Jon Bell has been head coach of the Saint Louis University cross country and track and field squads.
Since taking over the reins of both the cross country and track & field programs in 2008 – the latter of which was formed just a year prior his arrival – Bell has engineered the Billikens through an arduous but successful building process. The Billiken program is now one that is succeeding at the regional, conference and national level.
The 2016-17 season was one of the most successful seasons in school history. The Billikens' men's cross country won three meets during the cross country season, including the National Cathlolic Championship at Notre Dame, and finished third in the Atlantic 10 Conference Championships, their best finish ever. Additionally, three runners earned All-Conference honors on the men's side for the first time in school history. On the women's side, the Billikens took home the team title at the Forest Park XC Festival.
The success carried over to the track, as the men's team finished fourth in both the indoor and outdoor A-10 Championship meets. Manuel De Backer and Ann Harlos represented the team on the national stage, qualifying for the NCAA West Preliminary Round competition.
While Bell has led the program, the Billikens have had 22 student-athletes earn All-Conference honors during the cross country season. On the track, 16 Billikens have captured A-10 individual titles in either indoor or outdoor track and field.
In addition to recognition on the track and course, Bell also stresses achievement in the classroom. The Saint Louis University men’s and women’s track and field squads were named to the 2017 Division I All-Academic Teams. The women’s program posted a cumulative GPA of 3.53, which tied for 20th in the nation. The men’s program had a 3.41 GPA, which ranked 11th nationally. The performance of the cross country/track and field squads in the classroom were instrumental in helping the department post a record-setting GPA in the 2016-17 school year.
Bell was named interim head coach of the Billikens in August of 2007 and was officially named head coach in the summer of 2008. Bell joined the Billikens as a volunteer assistant coach prior to the 2007 track and field seasons after spending one year as an assistant track and field coach at Utah Valley State. At UVSU, he was a recruiting coordinator for the NCAA Division I institution and assisted in all facets of the program. Bell worked with four student-athletes who broke school records, and one who claimed an NCAA Independent championship.
Bell was a graduate assistant coach at Emporia State (Kan.) University from 2003 to 2005. He coached two NCAA Division II All-American long jumpers and sent 10 student-athletes to the NCAA Division II National Championships. Bell began his coaching career at his alma mater, St. Mary's (Minn.) University, in 2002. He also served as head girls' track and field coach at Winona High School in 2003.
After graduating from St. Mary's with a bachelor's degree in 2002, he went on to earn a master's in health, physical education and recreation from Emporia State in 2005.