A familiar face will be returning to Liberty Mountain with the announcement of Lance Bingham as Liberty's Head Track & Field and Cross Country Coach for the 2020-21 athletics year.
After serving as head track & field and cross country coach the last four seasons at Abilene Christian University, Bingham returns home to Liberty where he served 18 seasons under retiring head coach Brant Tolsma.
Much like Tolsma, who will finish out his 34-year coaching career with the Flames during the spring outdoor season, Bingham will remain with Abilene Christian throughout the rest of the 2019-20 athletics season.
The Flames' head coaching role will be Bingham's third stint at Liberty. He first joined the staff as an assistant coach for six seasons from 1995-2001 and then served as associate head coach of the program for 12 more years from 2004-16.
During the last three seasons leading the cross country and track & field programs at Abilene Christian, Bingham has coached 27 conference champions, 90 Southland Conference medalist, four Athlete of the Year honorees, plus 25 NCAA West Prelim qualifiers, five cross country all-region honorees and four NCAA Championship participants.
Earlier this week, Bingham guided Abilene Christian's men's and women's programs to a pair of third-place finishes at the 2020 Southland Conference Indoor Track Championships.
The Wildcats' men's squad has finished in third place at the 2019 and 2020 Southland Conference Indoor Track Championships, the program's best finish since rejoining the league in 2013. The third-place finish for the women's team in 2020 was the team's second-best finish in the last seven years.
During the outdoor championships, Bingham guided the men's squad to back-to-back Southland runner-up performances in 2018 and 2019.
In cross country, Abilene Christian had its best finish since 2013, last fall, with both the men's and women's programs finishing in third place.
While serving as Liberty's associate head coach during the 2004-16 seasons, Bingham helped guide Liberty men's and women's track & field teams to a combined 33 conference titles. Bingham has been a part of the Liberty coaching staff for all three IC4A championship seasons (1996, 2007 & 2008).
In 2009-10, Bingham helped Liberty become only the ninth school in NCAA Division I history to complete a conference "Double Triple." The Flames captured Big South titles in men's cross country, indoor track & field and outdoor track & field, in addition to women's cross country, indoor track & field and outdoor track & field.
During his last time at Liberty, Bingham's coaching responsibilities included the hurdles, pole vault and multi events. During eight of his 12 seasons, Bingham helped Liberty send at least one athlete to the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
In 2012, Bingham coached Kolby Shepherd (pole vault) to a tie for fifth place and All-America honors at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Shepherd arrived at Liberty with just a 14-0 high school pole vault personal record.
Off the track, Bingham accompanied Liberty student-athletes on a number of foreign missions trips. During the summers of 2009, 2012 and 2015, he and his wife, Kelly, were part of the Liberty track & field group which traveled to Kenya.
Three of Bingham's charges (Jon Hart, Clendon Henderson and Brandon Hoskins) qualified for the 2008 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Additionally, Henderson took part in the U.S. Olympic Trials that year.
As a result, Bingham was duly recognized as the 2008 U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Southeast Regional Men's Assistant Coach of the Year.
During his first time away from Liberty, Bingham spent three years (2001-04) as the head coach at South Plains Junior College in Levelland, Texas, where he was named the 2004 National Junior College Outdoor Coach of the Year.
At South Plains Junior College, Bingham's athletes won 13 individual national championships and earned 33 All-America honors in track and cross country, while the 2002 women's marathon squad won the national championship. On two separate occasions, his men's teams earned a third-place finish at the national championship meet.
Prior to his tenure at South Plains, Bingham served as an assistant coach at Liberty for six seasons (1995-2001), where he was primarily responsible for assisting with multi-event athletes and field events. During his first stint as an assistant coach for the Flames, he coached seven Division I All-Americans.
During his competitive days, Bingham was an All-America decathlete at South Plains Junior College, finishing second at nationals in both 1982 and 1983, when he posted a personal-best score of 7,510 points. He went on to compete at Texas Tech, where he also played football.
In 2016, Bingham was inducted into the NJCAA Coaches Association Hall of Fame, honoring his many accomplishments as both a coach and former student-athlete at the junior college level.
Bingham graduated cum laude from Texas Tech with a bachelor's degree in physical education and earned his masters of education from Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas.
Bingham and his wife of more than 30 years, Kelly, have two children: Brittany Werth and Cody. Kelly currently serves as an online professor at Liberty, teaching graduate level education classes, while also mentoring Abilene Christian's track & field and cross country athletes.
Brittany is a former Liberty heptathlete (2009-10), who now serves as a missionary. Cody is a former Liberty decathlete (2011-15), who was on staff at Abilene Christian with his father for two years, and is now a college pastor at Abilene Christian.
"I am very grateful to President Falwell, Ian McCaw and Todd Patulski for the opportunity to serve at Liberty University again. It will be an honor to carry on the mission to serve Jesus Christ through track and field where Coach Tolsma has established such an outstanding program of excellence, both on and off the field of competition. Years ago, I remember Dr. Falwell talking about 'Training Champions for Christ'. To be part of fulfilling this dream at the highest level is truly a blessing. It is certainly bittersweet for us as we have grown to love and admire the athletes, coaches as well as, the administration at Abilene Christian University and so these goodbyes will also be difficult. We look forward to finishing strong here at ACU before once again making the transition back to Lynchburg." Lance Bingham, Liberty's Head Track & Field and Cross Country Coach
"We are blessed and excited to welcome Lance Bingham back to Liberty to lead our men's and women's cross country and track and field programs," said Director of Athletics Ian McCaw. "Lance has enjoyed considerable success as a head coach and his familiarity with Liberty is a tremendous asset for our program. He will be a wonderful mentor and role model for our student-athletes and aligns with our vision of training champions for Christ, providing a high quality student-athlete experience and achieving victory with integrity." Ian McCaw, Liberty University Director of Athletics