Robert Gary, now in his sixth season as the head men's track and field coach and 16th instructing the cross country team, has elevated both programs to new heights and established himself as one of the nation's elite coaches. In his capacity as head track coach, Gary also serves as meet director of the prestigious Jesse Owens Track Classic.
Track and Field Head Coach
Gary was named the seventh head coach in Ohio State history in July of 2006 after serving as an assistant coach with the Buckeyes for nine years. In his five years at the helm of the program, he has guided the Scarlet and Gray to six top 3 finishes at Big Ten championship events, including a pair of runner-up performances (2010 indoor, 2009 outdoor). Additionally, the Buckeyes have claimed 17 individual crowns and seven relay titles since Gary's hiring and finished outside the top 5 only one time in 10 conference championship appearances.
The 2011 Buckeyes continued Gary's impressive run of top 5 conference finishes. After placing fifth during an indoor season that was highlighted by five NCAA qualifiers and Cory Leslie's school record run in the mile (3:57) at the Penn State National Invitational, OSU took third overall at the outdoor meet on the heels of five individual titles. The team later qualified 21 athletes for regional competition and seven athletes in four event areas (sprints, jumps, distance, relays) for the NCAA championships.
Coach Gary has also been instrumental in renewing the Ohio State-Michigan Dual meet rivalry in his time as head coach. Held twice a year during both the indoor and outdoor seasons, the matchup has become one of the most talked about track events in the Midwest due to its intense competition and pageantry that features bands, cheerleaders and celebrity starters (including former OSU football coach Jim Tressel and Olympian and 400m world record holder Butch Reynolds). Since the rebirth of the rivalry in 2008, Gary and the Buckeyes hold a 6-2 advantage over the Wolverines.
Cross Country Head Coach
Gary has led the Buckeye cross country team to the NCAA championships eight times in his 16 years as head coach, highlighted by an 11th-place team finish during the 2005 season. He has mentored four all-Big Ten selections (Ian Conner, Rob Myers, Brian Olinger and Jeff See), two All-Great Lakes regional honorees (Olinger and See) and two All-Americans (Olinger and See) in his time at Ohio State.
Gary's 2011 squad returned to the national meet for the first time since 2009 and turned in a 23rd-place finish despite only featuring two active seniors on the roster. OSU was paced by rising junior Donny Roys, who turned in a 95th-place time of 30:59.
USA Track and Field Involvement
Coach Gary has developed an outstanding reputation in the track and field community. In 2011, he served as an assistant head coach for Team USA at the IAAF World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, and as the head coach for the U.S. juniors at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Punta Umbria, Spain. His two appointments in 2011 were preceded by a stint as Team USA's U-23 distance coach at the North America, Central America and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC) meet in Toluca, Mexico in 2010. He is also a four-time presenter for the Podium Education Project in the steeplechase and has served as a men's development chair for the steeplechase, 5000m and 10000m.
Gary continues to train the best each year for national and international competition. In spring of 2011, he helped OSU graduate Brian Olinger to victory at the prestigious Manchester Road Race and the top American finish and third-fastest time ever (behind only Alberto Salazar and Craig Virgin) at the Falmouth Road Race. Several months earlier, another former Buckeye, Jeff See, won the USATF indoor mile championship to become the fourth mile champion coached by Gary.
In June 2010, Garycoached former Miami University star Daniel Huling to first place in the 3000m steeplechase at the 2010 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. In addition, Huling, along with former Buckeye greats Myers (1500m), Olinger (steeplechase) and See (1500m) trained under Gary while preparing for the 2008 Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore., where Myers, Huling and Olinger all advanced to the finals of their respective events.
Gary ended a decorated running career in 2005. A two-time Olympian (1996 Atlanta Games and 2004 Athens Games) in the 3000m steeplechase, Gary is one of only five Buckeyes to gain bids to two separate U.S. Olympic teams. He placed second in the steeple at the 1996 U.S. Olympic Trials with a career-best time of 8:19.46, and eight years later turned in a third-place finish at the 2004 Trials.
Gary also earned honors as a cross country athlete, winning the 2004 Track and Field News Cross Country Runner of the Year award. In all, he tallied 11 career appearances on the U.S. cross country team.
As a student-athlete at Ohio State from 1992-1995, Gary was a six-event All-American, winning the Big Ten outdoor 3000m steeplechase title in 1994, where he set the Ohio State and Big Ten record in the event. He was a three-time All-Big Ten selection and member of three Big Ten championship teams (1992 outdoor, and 1993 indoor/outdoor).
A 2009 inductee into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame, Gary received a degree in English education from Ohio State in the fall of 1996. He is a graduate of Evanston Township High School in Chicago, Ill., where he was a state champion in the two-mile and an All-Midwest selection in soccer.
He resides in Columbus with his wife, Rita, and son, Percy.
Coach Gary's Top Times
1:47.26 - Rob Myers (2006)
1:48.20 - Daniel White (2011)
3:34.89 - Rob Myers (2005)
3:37.18 - Ian Connor (2001)
3:53.78 - Rob Myers (2004)
3:55.24 - Jeff See (2011)
7:44.97 - Daniel Huling (2010)
7:49.62 - Jeff See (2011)
8:13.29 - Daniel Huling (2010)
8:19.29 - Brian Olinger (2007)
13:24.72 - Daniel Huling (2010)
13:31.21 - Brian Olinger (2008)