Courtesy of Colby Sports Information
WATERVILLE, Maine - The Colby College Community is mourning the loss of Jim Wescott, the head coach of men's cross country and track and field at the College for 25 years from 1978 to 2003.
Wescott died in a drowning accident Tuesday morning after having a medical emergency and falling into the water on Megunticook Lake. His body was found about 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
Known for his calm demeanor and positive attitude, Wescott came to Colby after spending nine years as head coach of men's cross country and track and field at North Carolina State from 1969 to 1978. Wescott was a native of Dover, N.H., and wanted to get back to the New England area.
"Jim was a terrific coach, but I think more about the type of man he was," said Marcella Zalot, Colby's Harold Alfond Director of Athletics. "He was warm, personable, genuine, and sincere. You think of the people you meet in life and he was truly special, the highest level you could meet."
Wescott helped build the Colby cross country and track and field teams into New England Small College Athletic Conference contenders. The Mules won NESCAC titles in cross country in 1987, 1990, and 1993 (tied). Wescott was the 1990 New England Division III Cross Country Coach of the Year when the Mules captured the NCAA Region I title and he was honored as New England Division III Track and Field Coach of the Year in 2003. Wescott and the Mules also won the first-ever NESCAC title for men's outdoor track and field in 1986.
"I'm so saddened by the news, but all my thoughts are with coach's family," said current Colby men's cross country and track and field coach Jared Beers, who competed under Wescott. "Jim was one of the best people I will ever know. Honoring him was a major motivator for me in seeking this job. I feel so grateful to have been mentored by him over the past 17 years."
With the great teams came some terrific athletes. Wescott coached four-time All-American Jamie Brewster '00, who is the College's only three-time national champion (hammer throw) and works at Colby in admissions. Todd Coffin '83, who coached the Mules for three years after Wescott's retirement, was a national champion in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.
Wescott was a high jumper during his collegiate days at Plymouth State University and later earned a master's degree from Indiana University. He worked with both the men and the women high jumpers at Colby. Wescott was a past president of the New England Division III Track and Field Coaches Association.
Wescott was beloved by many of Colby's track and field alumni. One of the athletes, who wished to remain anonymous, gave Colby $300,000 to establish the James B. Wescott Scholarship Fund. Wescott was honored by the state's coaches after they named the yearly high jump competition at the state meet in his name. He also was named the Colby C Club Person of the Year in 2004.
Wescott helped develop the Campbell Trails, eight miles of cross country trails provided by the family of Eleanor Campbell '81. Wescott often would be seen running on the trails and throughout Colby's campus.
Wescott also enjoyed rowing and competed in the 2013 Head of the Charles Regatta. He also had rowed the regatta from 1982 to 1984 and again in 1986.
Wescott, 71, is the father of Seth Wescott, a two-time Olympic snowboard gold medalist, and his daughter, Sarah.
The Colby Community sends condolences to Jim's wife, Jo, and the rest of Jim's family and friends. Funeral arrangements will be announced soon.
Colby Mourns Passing of Former Head Coach Jim Wescott
Courtesy of Colby Sports Information