USATF U20 Championships

Michael Long Wins First National U20 Title For Alan Webb-Coached Ave Maria

Michael Long Wins First National U20 Title For Alan Webb-Coached Ave Maria

Just two years into his tenure at Ave Maria, Alan Webb coached Michael Long to a U.S. U20 victory, the school's first U.S. U20 win in history.

Jun 14, 2024 by Cory Mull

Alan Webb was hired to lead the Ave Maria University track and field team in 2022. 

Two years later, the NAIA program from Southwest Florida has what appears to be its first star. 

Michael Long, a freshman from Saint Sebastian Academy in Potomac Falls, Virginia, claimed the U.S. U20 800 meter title on Thursday at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, hitting a time of 1:47.54 to secure his ticket to the World U20 Championships in Lima, Peru. 

"I've been working on that kick all season with a bunch of speed training that coaches have had me do," Long said. "That last 150m I just thought, 'This one is for God.'" 

The performance was a new personal best for Long, who graduated from high school in 2023 with a best of 1:50.10. At this time last year, Long scored a national title at adidas Track Nationals with that aforementioned personal best. 

"The goal was to win," he said. "I think I was seeded third. But I knew I had a lot of good training behind me."

Working under Webb,  more breakthroughs have come for Long.

His collegiate success began in May when he secured an NAIA Outdoor Championships at the distance in 1:49.41, doing so for a program that had never even been to nationals.

Long also secured performances in April of 1:48.88 at the Hurricane Alumni Invitational and 1:48.90 at the Virginia Challenge. He ran a PR of 48.34 in the 400m in March at the UCF Knights Invitational. 

Webb can be credited for seeing Long's potential. 

It was just a year ago that the former American record-holder at the mile signed the Virginia standout from the Virginia State Catholic League, where Long won two Virginia State Catholic Championships in the 400m and another in the 200m from the 2022 to 2023 seasons.

Ave Maria, a private Roman Catholic college located roughly 35 miles northeast of Naples, Florida, emerges from the orange groves of the Florida farmlands and appears like a snap-of-the-fingers. 

Athletics at the college only began in 2008 and it launched its track and field team in 2021, hiring Webb a year later when the program officially debuted.

Webb, a devout catholic, was previously at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock, along with stints at Portland and Virginia. 

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