Nick Willis enters his first season as an assistant coach with the Wolverine cross country program.
Over the last four years, since completing his undergraduate career at Michigan, Willis has thrived on the international scene, most recently capturing the 1,500-meter bronze medal while representing New Zealand in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. In that tactical race, Willis moved from 10th place to third in the final lap, outkicking several competitors in the straightaway before leaning across the finish line to secure the last spot on the podium. The Olympic appearance was Willis' second; he narrowly missed a 1,500-meter finals bid in Athens by .19 seconds, finishing sixth in his semifinal heat.
Willis is a three-time IAAF World Championships competitor, advancing to the 1,500-meter final at the 2008 indoor and 2007 outdoor events, and claimed bronze in the 1,500m at the 2006 World Cup. In 2006, he became the first New Zealand runner to capture 1,500-meter gold at the Commonwealth Games. Willis has twice established New Zealand's national record in the 1,500 meter, breaking John Walker's 32-year-old standard at Paris' 2005 Golden Gala meet before bettering his own mark at the same event a year later (3:32.17).
As a Wolverine student-athlete (2003-05), Willis was a seven-time All-American in cross country and track, capturing the 2005 NCAA indoor title in the mile and contributing to Michigan's world-record-breaking distance medley relay at the 2004 NCAA indoor meet. He also claimed 3,000-meter runner-up honors at the 2004 indoor meet and placed third in the outdoor 5,000 meter in 2005. Willis was twice named the Penn Relays college men's athlete of the relay event (2003, '05) and contributed to four relay titles, including a sweep of the distance in relays (DMR, 4xmile, 4x800m)in 2005.
A distance specialist through most of his career, Wills owns two U-M school records -- indoor 3,000m (7:44.90) and outdoor 5,000m (13:27.54). In the former event, he held the collegiate record for more than a year.
A native of Lower Hutt, New Zealand, Willis is pursuing a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Michigan. He is married to the former Sierra Boucher.
Watch: Cross Country Teams Train at U-M Bio Station
Nine Harriers Earn Academic All-Big Ten Recognition
From the Archives: Hares and Hounds and the Cross Country Club
Wolverines Cap Historic Season Ninth at NCAAs
Toeing the Line #9: at NCAA Championships
In the Spotlight: August Pappas, Nick Posada
Ferlic, Sullivan Take Home Great Lakes Region Honors