2019 DAY OF DISTANCE SPEAKER BIOGRAPHIES
DAVE WOTTLE is arguably most famous for his 800 meter win at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany. Leading up to those games, Wottle won the AAU 800 meter title before equaling the world record of 1:44.3 at the US Olympic Trials. During the 800 meter final at the 1972 Olympics, Wottle immediately dropped to the rear of the field, and stayed there for the first 500 m, at which point he started to pass runner after runner up the final straightaway. He seized the lead in the final stretch to beat pre-race favorite Yevgeny Arzhanov of the Soviet Union by just 0.03 seconds. This gained him the nickname of “The Head Waiter”. (Another nickname was “Wottle the Throttle”). Stunned by his victory, Wottle forgot to remove his cap on the podium during the national anthem. This was interpreted by some as a form of protest, but Wottle later apologized at the news conference following the medals ceremony. He also competed in the 1500 meter run at the Munich Olympics, but he was eliminated in the semi-finals. His signature cap was originally used for practical purposes. He sported long hair at the peak of his career, so the hat kept his hair out of his face. After realizing the cap was part of his identity and for good luck, he wore it for the remainder of his career.
Wottle earned a Bachelor of Science in History from Bowling Green State University in 1973. Competing for the university, he finished second to Marty Liquori in the mile run at the 1970 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. During the 1971 season, Wottle was hampered by injuries, but a year later in 1972 he won the 1,500 meter race at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, and at the 1973 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships he won the mile run in a time of 3:57.1.
Professional career in athletics
Wottle turned professional in 1974, but retired quite soon after that. Later, he became a college track coach at Walsh College (Ohio) (1975–77) and Bethany College (West Virginia) where he also served as Director of Admissions (1977–81).
Career after athletics
Wottle served as an administrator at Rhodes College from August 1983 until his retirement in June 2012. He was Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid for 28 years before spending his final year at the school as the Special Assistant to the President. He then served as the Interim Vice-President for Enrollment Management at Millsaps College. Since September 2013, Wottle has been the interim Vice President for Enrollment at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio.
MICHAEL SMITH is entering his second full year as the Director of Cross Country and Track & Field after joining the NAU staff on August 16, 2016. Smith helped assist the men’s cross country national championship winning team in the fall of ’16 and took over as the director of both the school’s track & field squads along with the cross country teams that following spring.
After taking control of the program completely in the Fall of 2017, Smith helped the men’s cross country team to its second-consecutive NCAA National Championship. Both his men’s and women’s teams swept the Big Sky Championships as well. Smith was honored with the Bill Dellinger Award for being the year’s National Men’s Coach of the Year and also picked up both the Big Sky’s Men’s and Women’s Coach of the Year awards.
In Smith’s first year as the Director of Track & Field in the Spring of 2017, not only did his teams earn three Big Sky titles (Men’s and Women’s Indoor/Women’s Outdoor), but he was also named the USTFCCCA Mountain Region Women’s Indoor and Outdoor Track & Field Coach of the Year. Smith was also named the Big Sky Indoor Men’s Coach of the Year as well in his inaugural season with the program.
Smith coached four Lumberjacks to All-American honors in track & field in 2016, 16 All-Conference performances in the indoor season which was followed by 11 All-Conference finishes during the outdoor campaign.
Smith’s teams saw just as much success on the track as they did in the classroom. He saw one athlete named a CoSIDA Academic All-American second team honoree, five athletes earn USTFCCCA All-Academic honors and over 25 Big Sky All-Academic team members.
Smith comes to Northern Arizona with championship experience and a background in altitude training. He spent four years at Georgetown University, most recently serving as the Director/Head Coach of the Men’s and Women’s Cross Country and Track & Field programs during the 2015-16 school year. Prior to Georgetown, Smith lived in Flagstaff for six years and founded Team Run Flagstaff, while also working under Dr. Jack Daniels at NAU’s Center for High Altitude Training—a U.S. Olympic Training Site for long distance running.
Smith recently coached the NCAA Champion Women’s Distance Medley Relay in 2016. During Smith’s four-year stint with the Hoyas, he coached 47 All-Americans, 23 NCAA Championship qualifiers, and two Olympic Trials participants. In 2015, the Georgetown men’s cross country team won the Big East Championship, going onto place 10th at NCAA National Championships. The women’s cross country program has advanced to nationals every season under Smith’s guidance, including top-five finishes in 2013 and 2014.
A former All-BIG EAST, All-Region, and All-American cross country runner at Georgetown, Smith was a 2007 qualifier for the U.S. Olympic Trials in the marathon, competing in November 2007. Smith graduated from Georgetown in 2003.
GINA PROCACCIO has achieved success at the highest levels during her prolific career as an athlete and a coach. She is in her 17th year as head coach of the Villanova women’s cross country and track & field program in 2016-17 and previously spent a total of five seasons as a Wildcats assistant coach.
The list of accomplishments for Villanova during Procaccio’s tenure is staggering. Since taking over as head coach in the fall of 2000, she has guided the Wildcats to two national championships in cross country and a combined nine BIG EAST team titles. In addition, Procaccio has mentored nine individual national champions, 98 All-Americans and 148 individual BIG EAST champions while also leading Villanova to 10 Championship of America titles at the Penn Relays. Procaccio is a two-time National Coach of the Year and a nine-time BIG EAST Coach of the Year. She has also been the Mid-Atlantic Region Coach of the Year six times, all in the last seven years. There have also been 29 school records set during Procaccio’s time as head coach.
Procaccio is a 1987 graduate of Villanova who made her mark on the school’s women’s track & field record book despite having only one year of eligibility left after transferring from Florida. In her senior season on the Main Line, Procaccio ran the leadoff leg of the 4×800 meter relay that won an NCAA Championship and set a world, American and collegiate record with a time of 8:24.77. In her post-collegiate professional running career, she participated in three World Championships meets and qualified for the finals of the 5000 meters at the 1995 World Championships, the same year she was the U.S. champion in the event. Procaccio also qualified for four U.S. Olympic Trials and finished as high as third in the U.S. National Cross Country Championships. During her racing career, she won six individual Penn Relays watches.
CHRISTIAN LYNCH has been the Head Coach of Boys and Girls XC/ Winter T&F for Kingsway High School in New Jersey for over 14 years. During his tenure, Coach Lynch has turned Kingsway into a powerhouse, winning 9 NJSIAA State Championships (23 Boys Cross Country, 3 Girls Winter Track, 3 Boys Winter Track) and 15 NJSIAA Sectional Championships. He was named the New Jersey State Coach of the Year for Cross Country and has won the South Jersey Coach of the Year for Cross Country and Track 4 times. In 2017, Coach Lynch was inducted into the New Jersey Scholastic Coaches Association Hall of Fame and the Gloucester County Sports Hall of Fame. He won the NJSIAA Sports Award twice for the 2017 and 2018 Boys Cross Country Teams. Coach Lynch was also recognized by Kingsway for the Distinguished Service Award in 2016. As an athlete, Coach Lynch ran both cross country and track at Princeton University where he majored in Psychology. He has a Master’s Degree in Educational Administration from Rowan University.
DR. IRA MEYERS specializes in treating running injuries and has had the opportunity to work with many runners of all levels, including Olympians. Dr. Meyers is an avid runner himself and has won races such as the Philadelphia Marathon and the Long Island Marathons. He is currently on staff at Holy Redeemer Hospital, Abington Memorial Hospital, Jeannes Hospital, Einstein-Elkins Park Hospital and Presbyterian Hospital where he practices all phases of podiatry. Dr. Ira Meyers received his B.S. in biology in 1982 from The College of William and Mary, and his D.P.M. degree from The Pennsylvania College of Podiatric Medicine (now Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine) in 1987. He completed his residency in podiatric surgery at The Osteopathic Medical Center of Philadelphia. Dr. Meyers became board certified in podiatric surgery in 1993, and completed a fellowship in podiatric sports medicine in 1989.
BOB SCHWELM, Owner of Bryn Mawr Running Company. For 28 years, Schwelm has been serving the community by coaching beginning to elite athletes, organizing teams and races, and keeping runners healthy by providing great quality footwear. Schwelm was a two-time Olympic Trials marathon qualifier. He also has five decades of sub 3 hour marathons (one of 37 in the world). In 2009, Schwelm ran a 2:30 marathon which ranked him #1 in the world for 50 year olds.
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.