Ron Warhurst finished his first season as associate head coach after a successful nine-year run (2000-09) as head coach of the Michigan track and field team.
Before taking the reigns as head coach, Warhurst served as an assistant coach with the program for 26 seasons. He has also served as the head coach of the Wolverine men's cross country program for the past 35 years. Warhurst oversees the distance runners for the track and field team.
The distance group was one of the biggest strengths for Michigan in the 2010 season, highlighted by the performance of fifth-year senior Lex Williams, who qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the 10,000-meter run. In 2008, Warhurst led the Wolverines to their first Big Ten Outdoor Championship since 1983. The Maize and Blue claimed six individual Big Ten titles as Warhurst was named both Big Ten Coach of the Year and Great Lakes Regional Coach of the Year.
Former U-M star Nate Brannen had this to say about coach Warhurst. "The success he's had not only on the college level but on the international level speaks a lot about him and his ability as a coach. Not only is he a great coach, he's also a great mentor."
"The beauty about Ron is that you never know what he has planned," said former Michigan star and 2008 bronze medalist Nick Willis. "Half the time, he doesn't know himself. It keeps us on our toes and keeps us relaxed and ready for anything."
Since taking the helm of the Michigan track program, Warhurst helped guide 15 different Wolverines to 31 Big Ten titles, while showing steady improvement in the program as he landed several top high school recruits for the 2009 season.
Over his three decades as the distance specialist at Michigan, Warhurst has led 40 individuals and eight relays to All-America citations in track and field and developed 38 All-Americans in cross country. Among his notable runners are John Scherer (1986-89), a three-time NCAA track champion and eight-time All-American; Kevin Sullivan (1994-98), a four-time NCAA track champion who holds 14 All-American citations in track and cross country in addition to a fifth-place finish at the 2000 Olympics in the 1500-meter run, Brian Diemer (1980-83), the 1984 Olympic steeplechase bronze medalist -- the last American male runner to medal in an Olympic Games; and Greg Meyer (1974-77), who stands as the last American to win the Boston Marathon in 1983.
"Ron is just a natural coach," said Diemer. "He knows how to read his athletes, and he adjusts his training and approach accordingly. He treats every athlete differently based upon characteristics unique to that person. Ron knows how to push his athletes to bring out the best."
Considered one of the top cross country coaches in the nation and the most successful in Michigan history, Warhurst has guided seven teams to Big Ten cross country titles (1974, '75, '76, '80, '93, '97, '98) and has finished among the top 10 at the NCAA Championships on 12 occasions. Warhurst has been named Big Ten Cross Country Coach of the Year four times and earned NCAA Regional Coach of the Year honors in 1997, 1998 and 2007.
Warhurst's first cross country conference title came in 1974, his first season as U-M head coach, and was the Wolverines' first cross country title in 20 years. The 1974 squad placed 12th at the NCAA National Championship, foreshadowing the future success for the Michigan harriers.
The 1992 season saw the Wolverines finish runner-up at the Big Ten meet for the third straight year, and went on to post a fifth-place finish at the NCAA Championships. One year later, the team clinched the Big Ten title for the first time in 13 years, finished third at the regional meet and 10th at the NCAA meet. The Wolverines finished second at the Big Ten Championships in each of the following three seasons, culminating in 1996 when John Mortimer and Scott MacDonald finished one-two in the conference race.
In 1997, another Wolverine pair -- Kevin Sullivan and John Mortimer (1996-98) -- finished one-two at both the conference and NCAA regional meets, earning a sixth Big Ten and first regional title for Warhurst. Michigan claimed a fourth-place finish at the NCAA National Championships behind three All-America finishers. Michigan matched its fourth-place national showing the next season (1998).
Warhurst's cross country success goes back to his high school and college days when he placed sixth at the New Jersey State High School Championships. As a collegiate runner, Warhurst starred on two NCAA championship teams at Western Michigan University in 1964 and 1965. Following his graduation in 1966, he spent two seasons as a graduate assistant at Eastern Michigan. From 1968-70, he served in the United States Marine Corps and was awarded two Purple Hearts and a Navy Commendation Medal for his service in Vietnam.
Outside of his Michigan coaching responsibilities, Warhurst serves as coach and advisor to several top professional distance runners from around the nation, including Olympians Tim Broe (USA), Grant Robison (USA) and Nick Willis (New Zealand) as well as World Championship competitor Nate Brannen (Canada). He is currently vice president for the Board of Directors of Wolverine Human Services, and was president of the NCAA Coaches Association from 1989-91.
Originally from Nutley, N.J., Warhurst currently lives in Dexter with his wife, Kallie, and six year-old son, Luke.
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