Camp Director/Head Coach
Alex M. Smolka is starting his eleventh year at the helm of the Florida Atlantic University cross country and track and field programs. He has been part of the program from almost the very beginning. The cross-country program started in 1991, and Smolka joined it as an assistant coach in February 1992. He took over as head cross country coach in August 2001 and became the head coach of the entire program in July 2002. During the 2005-2006 academic year, indoor track & field was added as a women's intercollegiate sport at Florida Atlantic.
While at Florida Atlantic, Smolka has mentored 81 All-Conference outdoor track athletes, 44 All-Conference indoor track athletes, 11 cross country All-Conference runners, an outdoor track & field Outstanding Freshman, an indoor track & field Outstanding Freshman, and an Outstanding Indoor track & field athlete of the year. Smolka has also had more than 400student-athletes make the conference All-Academic Team and three female student-athletes of the year. In addition, all of the individual records for the programs have been set under his supervision.
Smolka helped develop one of FAU's top hurdlers, Danielle Aromashodu. Aromashodu, named FAU's Female Student-Athlete of 2013-14, is the school record holder in the 400-meter hurdles and won the Sun Belt Conference Championship in the 400-meter hurdles in each of her first three seasons. Smolka also helped lead her to the 2014 NCAA East Preliminary Championship and she was honored as a member of the Division I All-Academic Track & Field team by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).
Smolka also coached professional runner Friederike Fiel. Fiel holds two FAU school records for cross country in the women's 5K and 6K. She also has the indoor and outdoor track records in the 3,000m run and is a part of the 4x800m relay team that holds the women's school record at FAU. In 2011, Fiel won a bronze medal in the 3K steeple chase at the German National Championship and went on to sign an endorsement contract with Brooks Shoe Company.
38 individual Owls have qualified for the NCAA Track and Field Regionals under Smolka. One athlete provisionally qualified for the NCAA Indoor National Championships and the women's cross-country team has been ranked as high as 13th in the South Region.
In 2010, the Owls placed second in the Sun Belt Cross Country Championship and placed third in the 2009 indoor championship. FAU has never placed lower than fourth at the Atlantic Sun Outdoor Track and Field Championships, finishing third four times. In the school's first season of indoor competition, Smolka's squad placed second at the A-Sun Indoor Track and Field Championships. In 2006-07, FAU's first year in the Sun Belt Conference, the women finished third at the cross country championships and eighth in both the indoor and outdoor track championships.
Smolka grew up in Vienna, Austria, and London, England, and was a three-sport athlete (skiing, soccer and track) competing numerous times in the International School Sports' Tournament (ISST) in various European countries. He then served as the captain for the Hampshire College soccer team while training and competing with the University of Massachusetts track and field team, where he set personal bests in the 400m (48.36 sec.) and 800m (1:53.88). Following college, he competed in triathlons, twice becoming a USA National Team member for the Maccabbiah Games in Israel in 1993 and 2001.
Smolka holds a bachelor's degree in history from Hampshire College (1988), a master's degree in sports and business management from Northeastern University (1992) and a Master of Arts degree in history from FAU (1996). He is a certified R.A.D (Rape, Aggression Defense) instructor, a certified professional rescuer/life guard, and a USATF Level I and II certified coach.
Smolka resides in Boca Raton, FL, with his wife, Caroline, and their six children: Tevya, Avi, Michaela, Johanna, David and Jacob.
Assistant Coach - Sprints, Hurdles & Jumps
John Guarino enters his fourth season as an assistant coach for the FAU women's track and field team. Guarino will concentrate his coaching efforts into the sprint, hurdles, and jumping events for the Owls. In his three years at FAU, Guarino led Danielle Aromashodu to back to back Sun Belt Conference titles in the 400m hurdles, as well as Annakay Dennis (400m), Ronja Siekmann (Hept) and Valerie Dixon (800m) to second-place finishes at the Sun Belt Championships. Last year alone, his athletes broke four school records in the short sprints. In his first three years, he has coached five different athletes to top-three finishes at conference, as well as two 4x400m relays.
Priorto FAU, Guarino was at Eastern Michigan University where he had a big impact on the program. While with the Eagles, Guarino coached seven individual MAC champions and four relay MAC champions in just four years. The women's team won the 2011 Indoor MAC title and finished runner-up outdoors missing the championship by one point. In 2011, Guarino's athletes dominated the conference championships by winning the 60m, 100m, 200m, 400m, 400mH and the indoor and outdoor 4x400m relay. In his four years at Eastern Michigan, Guarino had 24 of his athletes earn top-five finishes at the MAC Championships. He has also led seven women and two relays to the first round of the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Prior to Eastern Michigan, Guarino coached at the University of Central Florida, where he coached four athletes to the NCAA Regional meet in five different events. He also coached six different athletes to All-Conference USA honors, including the 4x400-meter relay team in 2006. In addition, he also coached Ann Larsen, a three-time U.S. National qualifier in the high jump.
Beforehis stint at UCF, Guarino spent one year as a graduate assistant coach at Florida State University. While there, he helped develop the female sprinters and the men's 800-meter athletes en route to an ACC Championship.
Before going to FSU, Guarino served as head coach at his alma mater, St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale and led them to six consecutive state titles from 1998-2003. In 2000, the team was ranked second in the country and for his efforts Guarino received the Florida Girl's Track Coach of the Year award four times. While at St. Thomas Aquinas, he coached Sanya Richards, the junior American record holder at 400 meters and 2012 Olympic gold medalist at 400m. Under Guarino, Richards had a personal high school best 400 meter time of 50.69 and won the silver medal at the 2002 World Junior Championships.
At St. Thomas, Guarino coached four high school All-Americans, a national championship relay team (4x200-meters) and state champions in 11 different events. He also coached the boys and girls cross country teams and the Ultimate Flyers Track Club each of his years. Guarino graduated with a Bachelor's of Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech in 1993 and then went on to receive a Master of Sports Administration in 2004 from Florida State. While at Georgia Tech, he competed for two years as a 400 and 800-meter runner. He was a four-year letter winner in track and field and cross country at St. Thomas Aquinas High School.
Guarino holds a USATF Level II certification in sprints, hurdles, and jumps. He is also certified in the sprints and hurdles by the new USTFCCCA Track and Field Academy.
Guarino resides in West Boca with his wife Natasha and their son.
Sara Anzardo-Gomez is currently the head coach for the cross country and track and field programs at Boca Raton Community High School. In addition to coaching, Gomez is a teacher of exceptional student education with experience in grades 2-12. As a teacher, Gomez was involved at bringing the Commit2beFit youth fitness program into elementary schools in Broward County.
Sara Anzardo-Gomez is currently a certified life guard, a USATF Level I certified coach, and is a member of the Florida high school athletic association. She is also certified in CPR, AED, and first aid by the American Red Cross. Gomez holds a bachelors degree in elementary education and endorsements in exceptional student education and English for speakers of other languages.
Gomez has over 15 years of running experience, including being a member of club and college teams as well as coaching. During college, Gomez began as a member of the Tri-State University's women's cross country team. After competing at the NAIA Level she transferred to Florida Atlantic University to compete in a NCAA Division 1 program. Gomez was a member of the cross country and track team from 2001 - 2004. In 2004, she volunteered as an undergraduate assist for the track and field program at Florida Atlantic University.
Gomez resides in Boca Raton, FL, with her husband, Jairo, and her son Michael. She continues to run, focusing on the marathon distance.