Jon Bell, who has been at the helm of the Billikens' cross country and track and field programs for more than a decade, has built the Saint Louis program into one that is succeeding at the regional, conference and national levels.
Bell was named head coach of both the cross country and track and field programs in 2008. The track and field program was formed just a year prior to his arrival, and he continues to guide the program to high levels of success.
The 2018-19 season got off to a strong start as the men's cross country team posted a third-place finish at the Atlantic 10 Conference Championships, matching its best finish ever. The women's team placed fifth overall, their best showing at the A-10s since 2013.
The indoor and outdoor track and field campaigns saw Billiken student-athletes capture a total of 12 medals. Included in that group was sophomore Katie Wissing, who captured the Billikens' first gold medal in outdoor track since 2014 when she won the high jump. Wissing went on to represent SLU in the high jump at the NCAA Preliminary Round.
In all, the Billikens broke 20 school records during the indoor and outdoor track and field seasons.
Bell has coached some of the most decorated Billiken student-athletes in school history during his time at SLU. Brittney Cloudy, a recent inductee into the Billiken Hall of Fame, won eight gold medals during her career as a jumper at SLU. She was named A-10 Field Performer of the Year during the 2012 indoor and outdoor track and field campaigns.
Manuel de Backer, who graduated in 2019, became the first Billiken to capture an Atlantic 10 Conference individual cross country title when he finished first at the 2017 A-10 Championships. He also earned nine conference medals during his track and field career.
Margo Richardson won three gold medals on the track and was a four-time All-Conference selection in cross country during her illustrious career from 2010-13.
Dahmar Smiles was a two-time gold medalist in the 110-meter hurdles in 2010 and 2011, while Justin Kwasa won gold in the weight throw during the indoor season in 2011. Hannah Kuenzel won gold in the shot put in 2013.
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 2019 Track and Field NCAA Division I Academic Team Award winners. The women’s program posted a cumulative GPA of 3.57, which tied for 19th in the nation. The men’s program had a 3.42 GPA, which ranked 10th nationally.
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.