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Kyprianou Named Director of Illinois Track & Field and Cross Country

CHAMPAIGN, ILL.–Two-time NCAA Championship coach Petros Kypriano (pronounced KEEP-ree-on-oo) has been hired as the new director of the Fighting Illini track and field and cross country programs, Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman announced Tuesday. Kyprianou’s hiring is pending approval by the UI Board of Trustees at its September meeting.

From 2015-2021, Kyprianou served in the same capacity at the University of Georgia, where, in his six seasons as head coach, he led the Bulldogs to unprecedented success, including a pair of NCAA titles – the first in school history – three runners -up performances, and a total of 16 top-ten NCAA finishes.

“We are excited to welcome Coach Kyprianou to the Fighting Illini family,” said Whitman. “During his time at Georgia, Petros provided himself as a program-builder and spearheaded a tremendous six-year run that featured two national championships and numerous podium finishes – results their program had never before experienced. A three-time National Coach of the Year , Petros has also figured prominently on the international stage, where he has coached numerous athletes to individual and team success.From our first conversation, I was struck with his contagious energy, his passion for the sport, and his intense competitive spirit. the bold vision he has for our program, and I look forward to him leading our student-athletes to add to the proud tradition of Illinois Track and Field and Cross Country.”

Georgia took the national podium (top-four) 12 times during Kyprianou’s tenure as head coach, highlighted by the UGA women’s team claiming the NCAA indoor championship in 2018, followed shortly thereafter with the UGA men’s team taking the 2018 NCAA outdoor title. In his final season in 2021, the Lady Bulldogs finished third indoors and fifth indoors at the NCAA Championships while the UGA men placed third indoors and eighth outdoors.

“I am thrilled for this opportunity, as I feel the University of Illinois track and field and cross country program is a sleeping giant in a conference that is changing for the betterment of all sports,” said Kyprianou. “It is important to me as a professional to have the support of an incredible leader in Josh Whitman. Speaking to him about my goals and expectations both professionally and personally, the response I got was very refreshing and promising for a culture change and bright future for the young men and women of the Illinois track and field/cross country teams! Now it is time to hit the ground running and recruit every talent out there, both shiny diamonds and diamonds in the rough. It will be a long, hard road, but I am excited for the future.

“It goes without saying that I am eternally grateful to the University of Georgia in trusting my leadership back in 2015 and supporting us in our quest for NCAA team titles,” Kyprianou added. “My family and I are excited for this new chapter of our lives and look forward being a part of the Illini family.”

Kyprianou was a three-time US Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) National Coach of the Year, winning the award in 2017 (women outdoor) and twice in 2018 (women indoor and men outdoor). He also was a two-time National Assistant Coach of the Year by the USTFCCCA (2014 and 2015 women indoors) during a seven-year stint as a Georgia assistant coach from 2008-15.

Kyprianou coached athletes to a total of 28 NCAA titles during his 13-year Georgia tenure. Highlighting that impressive list of distinguished champions is 2018 NCAA Woman of the Year Keturah Orji, who won the 2018 Bowerman Award, presented to college track and field’s top athlete.

Since electing to leave Georgia in 2021, Kyprianou has served as the director of sports performance at the Episcopal School in Jacksonville, Florida, while continuing to provide individual coaching to elite international athletes. Specializing in the jumps and combined events, Kyprianou has coached for four countries in international competition, including three different Olympics. Most recently, he was on the USA Track & Field staff for the just-completed 2022 World Championships in Eugene, Oregon, where the United States captured the gold medal.

Prior to joining the staff at Georgia, Kyprianou was an assistant coach at both Boise State University and University of Nebraska, Omaha. A native of Cyprus, Kyprianou competed in the decathlon, pole vault, hurdles, and long jump in Greece, winning several national championships. I have graduated from Aristotle University in Greece and later earned a master’s degree from UNO.

Kyprianou will be hired on a five-year contract, which will be presented to the Board of Trustees for approval at its September meeting.

The Kyprianou File
home town: Limassol, Cyprus
Familia: Wife, Mass
Children, Alexander & Stefan
Education: Aristotle University, BS, physical education and sports science, 2001
University of Nebraska at Omaha, MS, exercise science/biomechanics, 2006

Coaching experience:
2015-21 – Georgia, head coach
2014-15 – Georgia, associate coach
2008-14 – Georgia, assistant coach
2005-08 – Boise State, assistant coach
2004-05 – Nebraska-Omaha, assistant coach
2001-05 – Greek National Team, assistant coach

Georgia’s NCAA Finishes Under Kyprianou
Year Men’s Indoor Women’s Indoor Men’s Outdoor Women’s Outdoors
2016 24th 3rd 29th 3rd
2017 4th 2nd 6th 2nd
2018 3rd 1st 1st 2nd
2019 9th 20th 4th 66th
2020 * canceled canceled canceled canceled
2021 3rd 5th 8th 3rd

*2020 NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Track & Field Championships canceled due to COVID-19

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