2018 Speaker Bios

2018 Day of Distance Clinic Speakers

 

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS:

CRAIG VIRGIN

An American distance runner who is the only American male to be on three Olympic teams in the 10,000 meters (1976, 1980, 1984), and the only American male to win the IAAF World Cross Country Championships…and did it twice.  His victories came in Paris, France (1980) and Madrid, Spain (1981).

Born August 2, 1955 in Belleville, Illinois with a life threatening congenital urological disease and raised on a family farm near Lebanon, Illinois.  Through many years of surgeries and doctors, Craig’s childhood was far from normal where he endured tremendous pain fighting the disease.  In the 8th grade a doctor performed reconstructive surgery which gave him the ability to start normal physically functioning. He began his running career his freshman year of high school but soon realized that running was not as fun as playing basketball but quickly discovered sitting on the bench was not fun so returned to running.  From there Craig realized that he was talented and wanted to be the best.

Virgin is a legend in Illinois high school track and cross country circles, where he held the 2-mile record for many years.  His time of 8:40.9 still stands as the second fastest time ever recorded in an all high school race, and broke the late Steve Prefontaine’s National High School record.  He still holds the Illinois State High School Cross Country 3-mile record of 13:50.6 since 1973 at Detweiller Park.

At the University of Illinois, Virgin was a 9-time Big 10 individual champion, NCAA Cross Country Champion, and 2nd at the 1976 USA Olympic Track & Field Trials in the 10,000 meters behind Frank Shorter to make his first Olympic team. He was a 9-time NCAA All-American.

The 1980 U.S. Olympic boycott denied Craig the opportunity to compete in Moscow, when he possessed the fastest 10,000 meter time in the world and won the World Cross Country Championships earlier that year. Virgin ran the 10,000 meters in 27:29.2 in Paris in 1980, the second fastest time in history behind Henry Rono’s 1978 world record of 27:22.47. Weeks later, the winning time at the 1980 Olympics was only 27:42.69.

Craig set seven U.S. national records in both track and road events. He competed in only four marathons, but finished 2nd at the 1981 Boston Marathon with a time of 2:10.26. Chronic knee problems prevented him from further developing in the marathon.

 In 1997, Virgin survived a near fatal head-on car collision with a wrong way driver, which prematurely ended his competitive masters career. 

Craig Virgin’s compelling and unique story was just published earlier this year. Check out “Virgin Territory”, written by Randy Sharer.

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Chris Fox

CHRIS FOX assumed the track & field and cross country head coaching positions at Syracuse in 2005 with a vision – transform the Orange into national contenders. Through 11 seasons, Fox has done more than just make the Orange a contender, they’ve reached the peak – claiming the 2015 NCAA Men’s Cross Country National Championship.

Fox earned USTFCCCA National Coach of the Year honors as he led his championship roster to an undefeated season, claiming wins at the Coast-to-Coast Battle in Beantown, Wisconsin Adidas Invitational, ACC Championship and NCAA Northeast Regional before the NCAA Championship.

It’s the second-straight year the Orange finished in the top-five at the national meet and third-straight top-10 finish for SU. The Orange hadn’t been in the top-10 at the meet since 1957 prior to their 2014 arrival on the national scene, which culminated a complete rebuild of the once proud Syracuse cross country program under Fox.

In the past six seasons, Fox has guided the Syracuse men’s cross country team to six conference championships, including the first two ACC Championships of any sport at Syracuse in 2013 and 2014 and a third straight title in 2015.

Fox and his staff have transformed the Orange into a national contender in cross country, with the men’s program racing to its best finish in 57 years at the NCAA Cross Country Championships in 2014 and peaking at No. 2 in the USTFCCCA poll – the best rank in program history. Syracuse also stayed No. 2 for the majority of the 2015 season, even receiving first place votes for the first time ever following their dominant ACC Championship performance.

While racing to the NCAA Championship in 2015, a program record four members of Fox’s crew went on to earn All-America distinction, including Martin Hehir for the second time, Justyn Knight and Colin Bennie (who all recorded top-10 finishes at the meet) and Philo Germano. Fox has now coached 10 All-Americans in cross country, nearly half of the program’s 24 All-Americans all-time.

The women’s program has also experienced new success under Fox, with the Orange placing 12th in 2015 at the NCAA Championships, its second-best mark in program history behind 2010’s 10th-place finish.

The success has transitioned onto the track as well, with Syracuse qualifying eight student-athletes for the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in 2015, the most the program had brought in over 30 years, topping the previous high of six in 2014. Syracuse brought seven national qualifiers on the men’s side, which was the third-most in the ACC and tied for the second-most amongst private schools in the nation.

The Orange sent seven more in 2016, with the three-year mark of 21 NCAA qualifiers in three years serving as a program record for that time span.

Fox has guided 26 student-athletes to All–America status in track & field, including the 2012 NCAA 60-meter hurdles champion, Jarret Eaton. This indoor season, both Freddie Crittenden III and Knight reached the podium at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, the first time in program history that Syracuse has seen two of its athletes reach the podium at the event.

The track and field team also cracked the USTFCCCA top-20 for the first time in school history, checking in at No. 19 in 2015 and reaching as high as No. 12 in 2016.

Cross Country: Success Becoming Tradition

The 2015 title was the capitalization of building momentum under Fox. While the team reached its peak success in 2015, the Orange had been on their way to the top of the cross country mountain for quite some time.

Syracuse earned its fifth men’s cross country conference title berth in six seasons in 2014, including its second-straight ACC Championship. The Orange was led by Martin Hehir, who earned the individual ACC Championship. Max Straneva also found the podium, placing third.

The ‘Cuse depth was on full display as seven members of the squad placed in the top-15 at the event, earning All-ACC honors. The seven members of the Orange earning All-Conference honors was a program best.

Fox also mentored a podium finisher on the women’s side, coaching Margo Malone to a second-place finish at the ACC Championships in 2014.

The strong performance at the ACC meet set up a historic finish at the NCAA Championships for the men’s team, who took fifth overall – the best finish since 1957 – and Syracuse notched a pair of All-Americans in the same season for the first time under Fox, with Hehir and MJ Erb being awarded the honor.

Fox repeated as ACC Cross Country Coach of the year and picked up USTFCCCA Northeast Region Coach of the Year as well in 2014.

In 2013, Fox led the men’s cross country team to a 10th place finish in the NCAA Championship. He won the school’s first ACC Championship in any sport and was rewarded with the ACC Men’s Cross Country Coach of the Year title.

The Syracuse men’s team closed out its tenure in the BIG EAST in style, by winning its third BIG EAST Championship in four years in 2012 and had a program-best six All-BIG EAST Selections. Freshman Martin Hehir became the first Orange to win the individual BIG EAST title. Fox and his coaching staff were honored as the BIG EAST Men’s Coaching Staff of the Year. The SU men finished 15th at the 2012 NCAA Championship, while three-time All-BIG EAST selection Sarah Pagano represented the women, finishing 63rd.

Syracuse won its third straight NCAA Northeast Regional title in 2011. Behind the leadership of All-Americans Pat Dupont and Lauren Penney, the Orange men finished 15th at the NCAA Championship while the women claimed 17th as Fox and his staff were named the Northeast Region Coach of the Year for the third consecutive year.

In 2010, Syracuse hosted its first BIG EAST Conference Championship in program history. The Orange men repeated as BIG EAST champions for the second consecutive year, while the women matched a program-best third-place finish in front of a home crowd. Both the men and women went on to win their second straight NCAA Northeast Regional Championship. At the NCAA Championship, the women earned a program-best 10th-place finish, while the men’s squad matched its best finish, placing 14th overall.

Fox and his staff was tabbed BIG EAST Men’s Coaching Staff of the Year for the second straight season. Under Fox’s guidance, Dupont became SU’s second All-American in as many years. The Championship squads were driven by five men and five women who received All-Northeast Region honors. Three men and a pair of women also earned All-BIG EAST distinction.

The Climb to the Top

The Syracuse men’s and women’s cross country teams have become a staple near the top of the USTFCCCA rankings annually. The men’s team posted the highest rank in program history at No. 2 in 2014 and maintained it for most of 2015, including receiving first place votes for the first time ever, but it had been rare for ‘Cuse to be in the rankings until Fox took over the helm of the program.

In 2009, Fox directed the unranked Orange men to a No. 11 national ranking after winning the Wisconsin adidas Invitational, where it beat out two top 10 teams, while the women peaked when they were ranked 10th on October 12, 2009.

The Orange continued its quest for national prominence at the BIG EAST Championship, where the men captured its first championship in program history by outpacing Georgetown for the league’s title, 55-61. Prior to the 2009 season, the team’s highest conference finish was in 1980. The women achieved a program-best third-place finish.

Following the BIG EAST Championship, Fox led the Orange men and women to win the NCAA Northeast Region team title for the first time in school history. The championship women’s team included junior Katie Hursey, who became SU’s first individual women’s regional champion. His men’s team consisted of three underclassmen, who improved on SU’s fifth-place finish in 2008. Two days later, the men and women were voted the No. 9 and No. 12 teams in the nation, respectively, as they prepared for the NCAA Championship.

The Orange concluded its history-filled season at Nationals, where the women finished in the top 20 for the first time in program history and the men earned 14th in their first visit to the championship in 35 years. In their second trip to the NCAAs, the women finished 18th, improving on 2008’s 28th place finish. Sophomore Tito Medrano became the first Orange All-American since 1959.

In 2008, Fox built on his successes as he led the men’s team to a No. 26 USTFCCCA ranking, while the women made it into the national rankings for the first time in program history on October 14, 2008 and were voted as high as 25th at the end of the season.

Fox directed the women’s team to the 2008 NCAA Cross Country Championship for the first time in Syracuse history. Fox’s successful cross country season was the product of six USTFCCCA All-Region members. Nana Sang-Bender, a three-time all-region runner, posted a fourth-place performance at the NCAA Northeast Regional, which was the highest finish for a female distance runner in SU history.

In 2007, the men cracked the national rankings on for the first time in program history on September 26, 2008, landing at No. 26 in the U.S.T.F.C.C.C.A.

Fox mentored six student-athletes to Northeast All-Region honors in 2007. The list included junior Jeff Scull who recorded a program-best ninth-place performance. As a result, Scull earned an automatic invitation to the Division I NCAA Championship. The men and women continued a climb to the top of the region’s elite, finishing third and fourth, respectively.

The Orange boasted three All-BIG EAST performers in 2007, including junior Sang-Bender’s second honor in as many years. Sang-Bender powered the Syracuse women to a program-best fourth-place finish at the conference championship.

The 2006 season will be remembered as the year the cross country programs took flight. Behind Scull’s 12th-place finish, the SU men, who received national votes for the first time in program history, improved five spots from a year prior with a fifth-place finish at the BIG EAST Championship. Sang-Bender’s all-conference effort propelled the women to a seventh-place performance.

Liz Cufari earned All-BIG EAST accolades in 2005, becoming the first Syracuse female student-athlete since Alicia Hauber in 1983 to garner all-conference distinction.

Track & Field Success

Syracuse has qualified 21 student-athletes for the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in the last three seasons (2014, 2015 and 2016) combined, with seven qualifiers in 2016, a program-best eight qualifiers in 2015 and six the year prior.

In addition to the 2016 ACC Indoor Team title, Fox guided Syracuse to four combined ACC Championships between indoor and outdoor track and field in 2015. Shaina Harrison won the 60-meter dash at the event, providing Syracuse with its first female ACC Championship in school history. Martin Hehir won gold in the 5,000-meters (indoor), Justyn Knight won the 5,000-meters (outdoor) and Margo Malone won the 10,000 meters (outdoor) to provide another successful haul for Fox’s team at a conference championship.

The 2015 indoor season provided Syracuse with another All-American, as Martin Hehir took seventh in the 3000-meter dash.

Fox coached his 11th All-American in 2014 by guiding Sarah Pagano to All-America honors in the 10,000-meters at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.

During the 2012-13 season, the Orange had two First Team All-Americans in Donald Pollitt and Lauren Penney. Penney capped off an impressive Orange career, finishing eighth in the 5000m NCAA Championship race. She also was named a Second Team-All American after finishing 22nd in the 3000m during the indoor season.

Pollitt finished sixth at the NCAA Championship in the 110m hurdles and was the BIG EAST 60m hurdles champion during the indoor season. True freshman Brianna Nerud was an honorable mention All-American after finishing 17th at the NCAA Championship in the 3000m steeplechase.

The Orange had 10 outdoor All-BIG EAST selections and six indoor All-BIG EAST honorees during the 2012-13 season.

The 2011-12 season included arguably the greatest day in program history when Jarret Eaton completed a perfect season by becoming the first individual indoor track and field national champion in program history. Eaton’s time of 7.54 seconds won the NCAA 60-meter hurdle title, and beat the field by 0.01 seconds.

Also during the indoor season, Eaton ran the second fastest collegiate time ever recorded when he ran a 7.49 time in the 60-meter hurdles. Eaton also won the BIG EAST Championship that season. The outdoor campaign saw Syracuse claim three individual titles as Sarah Pagano (10,000-meter run), Pat Dupont (steeplechase) and Eaton (110-meter hurdles) all captured individual crowns and the Orange men’s team had its best team finish since 2007.

The 2011 outdoor season featured the most student-athletes to qualify for the NCAA Championships during Fox’s tenure. Four members of the team competed in the national championships, each earning All-America honors, including Second Team All-Americans Tito Medrano and Katie Hursey.

At the BIG EAST Championships, the Orange boasted three individual champions, including junior Tito Medrano, who won his second consecutive title in the 10,000m run. The women’s squad also produced three ECAC champions.

Under Fox’s tutelage, three members of the women’s team broke Syracuse outdoor records, including Katie Hursey in the 3,000m steeplechase, Lauren Penney in the 5,000m run and Catherine DeSarle in the 10,000m run. During indoor season, Penney also broke the mile and 3,000m records, while DeSarle set a new standard in the 5,000m run.

The 2010-11 indoor season was highlighted by five student-athletes earning All-BIG EAST honors at the conference championships, including weight throw champion Kwaku Boah. He became the first SU student-athlete to win the conference title in that event since 1991. Boah also broke the indoor record earlier in the season.

In 2010, Fox mentored the first Syracuse All-American field performer since 2007 in senior Bernard Bush, who earned the honor for his performance in the long jump. Fox also led Kyle Heath to his second consecutive All-America honor in the steeplechase.

In 2008, Fox guided Heath to a sixth-place finish at the 2008 Division I Outdoor Track and Field NCAA Championship, earning All-America honors. He was the first distance runner since Jim O’Connell in 1982 to garner All-America credentials.

The men and women’s track & field squads made a statement in 2007 following the All-America performances by Jillian Drouin and Michael LeBlanc. Drouin became Syracuse’s first multi-event All-American after a third-place finish in the heptathlon. LeBlanc placed fourth in the 100m dash to become the first All-American in 20 years in the event.

Fox has seen the men and women’s track & field program make vast improvements during his tenure at SU. In just one year, the men went from 11th to fourth-place at the BIG EAST Outdoor Championship in 2007, while also improving nine places to sixth-place at the IC4A Indoor Championship that same year. In 2008, Fox put together a ninth-place finish at the BIG EAST Indoor Championship and saw the Orange men finish fourth one year later – their best performance since 1993.

The women boasted fifth and third-place finishes at the BIG EAST Indoor and Outdoor Championships, respectively, under Fox in 2006.

An Auburn Tiger

Before arriving at Syracuse, Fox spent four seasons as the head cross country coach and assistant track & field coach at his alma mater, Auburn.

In 2003, both the indoor and outdoor track and field teams finished second at the NCAA Championship. The following year, both male and female cross country runners competed in the NCAA Championship, a first for the Auburn program. The men’s team also received a national ranking for the first time in more than 20 years. Fox led the men’s track & field squad to a No. 11 national ranking in 2005.

At Auburn, Fox led several student-athletes to national recognition. During his tenure, the Tigers produced two Academic All-Americans, two cross country All-Americans, 14 NCAA track and field All-Americans, two Southeastern Conference (SEC) cross country individual champions and three SEC track & field individual champions.

In 2004-05, Fox coached Sherridan Kirk from Trinidad and Tobago, a 2004 Olympian and a 2005 World Championship qualifier in the men’s 800. He also served as the NCAA Regional Championship Meet Director in 2004.

Fox excelled as a student-athlete at Auburn. He set the school record in the indoor (13:44.73) and outdoor (13:34.14) 5,000m run and is also among the top-five performers in the indoor 3,000m run and outdoor 10,000m run.

Early Coaching Success

After graduating from Auburn in 1983 with a degree in psychology, Fox served as the head cross country and distance coach at North Carolina for three seasons. He led the Tar Heels men’s cross country team to the 1985 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) title and a fifth-place performance at the NCAA Championship. For his efforts, Fox was named the ACC Coach of the Year, along with coach Dennis Craddock.

From 1987 to 1994, Fox pursued a professional running career as a member of the Nike-Athletics West Team. He also competed at the national and world level with Brooks Sports from 1995 to 1998. In those stints, Fox ran the mile in 3:59.10, the 5,000m in 13:21, the 10,000m in 27:53 and the marathon in 2:13.40.

Fox also spent one season at George Washington as the head coach of the cross country team in 1994-95 before competing for Brooks Sports.

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 FEATURED SPEAKERS:

Phil Wharton

Phil Wharton’s path to becoming a musculoskeletal specialist started when he was a young runner. He developed a 33-degree curvature of the spine/scoliosis, which produced constant pain. Through the work he now does, he was able to end the pain, correct the problem, and continue his running career, later going on to run a 2:23 marathon.

The objective of the Wharton Process is to take the mystery and confusion out of attaining optimum health, and provide simple solutions to complicated problems by balancing flexibility and strength.  A key component of our process is education – providing people with the tools necessary to harness and achieve optimum health.  Health, fitness, and athletics are a metaphor for the human spirit, a spirit that is indomitable and expansive.

Books

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Dave Marrington took over the CC program at Council Rock in 1996 after apprenticing for 9 years under the legendary Hall of Fame coach, Bill Preston. Since becoming head coach, Dave has led the Rock to 19 top 10 finishes in the State Meet, including two State Titles in 1999 and 2016. CR North finished 3rd in the 2016 Nike NE Regional. (The school split in to North and South in 2002). Dave has also guided 25 athletes to individual state medals, and 4 footlocker national finalists. He was named Pa. CC coach of the year in 2016.

On the track, Council Rock has produced 28 individual state medalists in the middle distance events since Dave took over in 1997. They have also placed 4th in the DMR at Penn Relays twice, and won an indoor National Title in the 4 x mile in 2005.

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Tim Mooney

Tim Mooney has been the Head Coach at Ridge High School since 1988.  Over those years, the school has gone from Group II to back to Group I and then all the way up to Group IV.  During those years the team has won NJSIAA Group Titles at each level.  Currently, Coach Mooney is coaching only the Girl’s team but was the Head Coach of both Boys and Girls through 2015.  

Since 2003 Ridge Girls XC has medaled in the NJ Meet of Champions 10 times.  Recent Ridge Girl’s XC teams have won Group IV and Meet of Champions titles in both 2015 and 2016.

In Track,  Ridge has won the Meet of Champions 4×800 Meter Relay in 2015, 2016 and 2017.  In addition, they won the inaugural  Indoor Meet of Champions 4×800 in 2017.  Ridge has reached the Championship of America 4×800 final in both 2015 and 2017 in which they finished as the fastest American team.   This team also won the 4×800 at New Balance Indoor Nationals.  

Ridge won the Group IV title in 2017.  

Coach Mooney was the NFHS Coach of the Year for Girls Cross Country in 2015 and the NFHS North East Section recipient in 2016.  

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marcus Marcus O’Sullivan

Marcus O’Sullivan is the head men’s Track and Field Coach/Cross Country Coach at Villanova University. He is three-time world indoor champion at 1500 meters and a former world record holder. He is also a four time Olympian and has run over 100 sub 4 minute miles. In Coach O’Sullivan’s first year as head coach, the women’s cross country team won both the 1998 Big East Championship and the 1998 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships. In 1998, Coach O’Sullivan received honors for the Big East Coaching Staff of the Year Award and was named United States Track Coaches Association National Coach of the Year by the U.S. Track Coaches Association. In 2014, he led the Men’s Cross-Country team to win the Big East Championship and also the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regionals.

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