LITTLE ROCK – Former Van Buren standout Aaron Batey has been named men’s and women’s cross country and distance head coach, announced on Wednesday by Milton Williams.

Milton Williams’ title will change to Director of Track & Field/Cross Country. Batey has served as assistant coach for the UALR track & field and cross country teams since 2010 after a decorated four-year career as a student-athlete.

"This is something I’ve been dreaming about, especially in the last year or two," said Batey. "Milton was my college coach and he just stuck with me even when I wasn’t doing well early on in my college career. He gave me my first coaching opportunity and I’m thankful for that and to keep working with him."

In his new role, Batey will take over head coaching responsibilities for the men’s and women’s cross country teams, as well as all men’s and women’s distance and middle distance events for the indoor and outdoor track and field teams.

"Aaron did a great job as an athlete here and has continued to do a great job as an assistant coach," said Williams. "We want him to take over head coaching duties for our cross country teams and distance event areas. He did a great job last year with Emma Dahl and numerous other athletes as well."

With Batey serving as her primary coach, Dahl placed sixth at the Sun Belt Championships in the 3K steeplechase and became UALR’s first female to ever qualify for the NCAA West Regional. Her time of 10 minutes, 16.66 seconds, in the event at the Rhodes Open was the fastest in the nation for the first three weeks of the 2014 outdoor season.

An 11-time All-Sun Belt honoree in cross country and track and field, Batey earned back-to-back appearance at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Regional in the 1,500-meter run in 2008 and 2009. In 2008, he became only the second athlete in school history to earn Sun Belt Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championship Men’s Top Scorer honors after winning the 1,500 meters, placing second in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, and placing third in the 5,000-meter run. Batey holds the school record for the men’s mile, which he set in 2010 with a time of 4:04.38.

"I don’t run like I used to," Batey said. "I just do some recreational running now. It’s mixed emotions for me. I’ll sometimes get out, run and get frustrated that I can’t get the same pace I had years ago. Other days, I just run with my girlfriend."

Batey graduated from UALR in 2010 with a degree in health and exercise science.

Batey, who graduated from Van Buren in 2005, and holds three individual records (cross country, 1,600- and the 3,200-meter runs) and one relay record (3,200-meter relay).