Arkansas State University athletes are mourning the death of Guy Ward Kochel Jr., 78, who coached ASU’s track and field program from 1972-89, including Olympian Earl Bell.

KAIT, Ch. 8, posted the note it got from Bell:

“Coach Kochel was a great role model, mentor, & friend. He was a great coach, leader, and teacher. I was very lucky to have him in my life. We had a lot of good times and success together, but he made sure there was some learning going on, and he ALWAYS made sure you stayed humble. My thoughts and prayers are with Sue and his family.”

The ASU Indians won 10 conference championships under Kochel, KAIT reported. Kochel coached 7 Olympians, including Al Joyner along with Bell.

According to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas, Kochel was born in Reydell in Jefferson County. He played baseball and ran track for the University of Central Arkansas, and served as pole vault and high-jump chairman for the USA Olympic team from 1985-88. After retiring from ASU after 17 years, Kochel went to work for Merrill Lynch in Jonesboro, and later became pastor at First Baptist Church of Jonesboro.