Michigan Wolverines men's track and field

Michigan Wolverines
University University of Michigan
Conference Big Ten
Location Ann Arbor, MI
Head coach Fred LaPlante (2nd year)
Indoor track U-M Indoor Track Building
Outdoor track Ferry Field
Nickname Wolverines
Colors Maize and Blue[1]
NCAA Outdoor Championships
Conference Indoor Championships
1918, 1919,1923, 1925, 1931, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1943, 1944, 1945, 1955, 1956, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1963, 1964, 1976, 1978, 1982, 1994
Conference Outdoor Championships
1901, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1906, 1918, 1919, 1923, 1925, 1926, 1930, 1932, 1933, 1935, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1943, 1944, 1955, 1956, 1961, 1962, 1976, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 2008

The Michigan Wolverines men's track and field team is the intercollegiate track and field program representing the University of Michigan. The school competes in the Big Ten Conference in Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

Michigan men's track and field athletes have won 43 NCAA individual event championships,[2] 14 Olympic gold medals,[3] 57 Big Ten Conference team championships (31 outdoor, 26 indoor),[4] and one NCAA team championship.[5]


The team has had 11 coaches in 109 years from 1901 to 2009. The team is currently coached by head coach Fred LaPlante and associate head coach Ron Warhurst.


Coach Years Overall Notes
Keene Fitzpatrick 1901–10 24–2–1 6 Western Conference championships; 8 Olympic medalists
Alvin Kraenzlein 1911–12 1–5–0
Stephen Farrell 1913–29 50–16–1 1 NCAA team championship; 4 Big Ten team indoor championships; 5 Big Ten team outdoor championships
Charles B. Hoyt 1930–39 40–6–0
Ken Doherty 1940–48 22–14–1 7 Big Ten team indoor championships; 7 Big Ten team outdoor championships
Don Canham 1950–68 52–13–2 4 Big Ten team indoor championships; 3 Big Ten team outdoor championships
David Martin 1969–71 7–6–0 7 Big Ten team indoor championships; 4 Big Ten team outdoor championships
Dixon Farmer 1972–74 6–6–0
Jack Harvey 1975–99 4 Big Ten team indoor championships; 6 Big Ten team outdoor championships
Ron Warhurst 2000–08 1 Big Ten team outdoor championship
Fred LaPlante 2009–13


Fitzpatrick era (1901–10)

Michigan's first track coach was the famous trainer Keene Fitzpatrick (1864 - 1944). Fitzpatrick was a track coach, athletic trainer, professor of physical training and gymnasium director for 42 years at Yale (1890-1891, 1896-1898), Michigan (1894-1895, 1898-1910), and Princeton (1910-1932).[7] He was considered "one of the pioneers of intercollegiate sport."[8] Fitzpatrick was first hired by Michigan in 1894 as the trainer for the school's football team.[9][10][11] He continued to be the trainer of Michigan's football teams through 1910, and was credited by many with the success of Fielding H. Yost's "Point-a-Minute" football teams of the early 1900s.[12][13][14]

Fitzpatrick became Michigan's first track coach in 1900 and continued to serve in that role through 1910. During those years, Fitzpatrick's teams compiled a 24-2-1 record in dual meets and won Western Conference track championships in 1900,[15] 1901, 1902, 1903, 1904, and 1906.[4] In 1907, Michigan sent its track team east to compete for the first time in the Inter-Collegiate Association of Amateur Athletics of America ("IC4A") meet, and Fitzpatrick's team came away with 29 points and a second-place finish.[16]

Michigan's first track coach, Keene Fitzpatrick

Fitzpatrick's athletes also excelled in Olympic competition. Over the course of four Olympic Games held during his tenure as track coach, Michigan track and field athletes won 15 medals, including 7 gold medals.

In 1900, funds were solicited from faculty, students, alumni and Ann Arbor businessmen to send Fitzpatrick and four Michigan track athletes to the Olympics in Paris. Michigan's John McLean won a silver medal in the high hurdles, and Michigan's champion pole-vaulter, Charles Dvorak, became involved in a Sabbath controversy. When finals of some events were scheduled for Sunday, several American university teams agreed they could not violate the Sabbath. Among the finals scheduled for Sunday was the pole vault, in which Dvorak was a favorite.[15] Dvorak was reportedly told that the final had been rescheduled, but the event was held after Dvorak and another American left. Several special competitions were conducted later to accommodate the Americans, which allowed Dvorak to win a silver medal.[15]

One of the highlights for Michigan athletics during the Fitzpatrick years came at the 1904 Summer Olympics in St. Louis, Missouri, which have sometimes been referred to as the "Michigan Olympics."[17] Five University of Michigan track and field athletes won nine medals: six gold, two silver, and one bronze.[17] The Michigan medal winners at the 1904 Olympics were:

Michigan's first track and field star Archie Hahn won four Olympic gold medals

Archie Hahn became a major star, and Fitzpatrick was credited with developing his unusual running style. Shortly before the 1904 Olympics, a Wisconsin sports writer described the style this way:

"Hahn has a new style of running. Nobody at Michigan understands the style, except that Keene Fitzpatrick invented it, and that Hahn steps differently than ever before. Even to see Hahn's new stride is not to analyze how he manages to lift his feet so high in front. The new stride suggests that he is trying to climb a hill. The little man has toughened every muscle in his body and trained it to be a spring."[18]

With three medals, Ralph Rose also became a star. In December 1904, the New York Evening Sun wrote that Rose was "the first perfect physique ever seen at the University of Michigan" as measured by Fitzpatrick's anthropometric charts.[19] At 6 foot, 3 inches, 246 pounds, a 29.9 inche right thigh, and a 47.6 inch expanded chest, he was the school's first "perfect physique."[19]

Fitzpatrick said Ralph Craig was the best sprinter he ever turned out.

At the 1906 Summer Olympics in Athens, Archie Hahn repeated as the 100-meter champion, winning his fourth gold medal.[20] And at the 1908 Summer Olympics in London, Michigan athlete Ralph Rose repeated as the gold medalist in the shot put, and John Garrels won a silver medal in the 110-meter hurdles and a bronze in the shot put.[21]

Fitzpatrick also coached Ralph Craig at Michigan. Following Fitzpatrick's departure from Michigan, Craig went on to win gold medals in the 100 metres and 200 metres at the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm. In 1932, Fitzpatrick said that Craig was the best sprinter he ever turned out, though Johnny Garrels was the best all-around athlete he ever handled.[22] Fitzpatrick's pupils, Hahn and Craig, were the only Olympic double sprint winners prior to another Michigan athlete, Eddie Tolan, accomplishing the feat at the 1932 Summer Olympics.[7]

Kraenzlein era (1911–12)

When Fitzpatrick left Michigan to become a trainer and coach at Princeton, Michigan hired Alvin Kraenzlein, one of the most accomplished athletes in the county, as his replacement. Kraenzlein won four gold medals for the United States at the 1900 Summer Olympics in Paris, winning the gold in the 60-meter sprint, the 110-meter hurdles, the 200-meter hurdles, and the long jump.[23] In Kraenzlein's two years as coach, the team finished third at the IC4A meet both years.[16]

Farrell era (1913–29)

Stephen Farrell led Michigan to the NCAA track and field championship in 1923.

Michigan's third track coach, Stephen Farrell (1863–1933) raced with hook and ladder teams in the 1880s and became known as "the greatest professional footracer this country has ever known."[24] He was the first American to be a two-time winner of England's Sheffield Cup and competed in races from 100 yards to one mile. Seeking new challenges, he performed with the Barnum & Bailey Circus for several years racing against a horse, and losing only a half dozen times.

In September 1912, Farrell was hired as the athletic trainer at the University of Michigan and noted at the time that the Ann Arbor institution "is the only western college that is thought much of down east."[25] He served as the school's track coach until his retirement in 1930, and he was also the trainer to Fielding H. Yost's football teams from 1912-1919.

In 1915, a series of newspaper articles touted Farrell as an innovator in track coaching, noting his innovations in the following areas:

When Michigan rejoined the Big Ten Conference in 1918, Farrell's Michigan track teams promptly won the indoor and outdoor track championships in both 1918 and 1919.[29] Between 1918 and 1930, Farrell's teams won ten Big Ten Conference championships.[29][30] His teams had a 50-16-1 record in dual meets, and his athletes won 76 Big Ten individual event titles and 11 NCAA individual event titles.[4] Michigan also won its only NCAA team track championship in 1923 under Farrell.[4]

During the Farrell era, Michigan's star athletes included:

Walter Eckersall later wrote that, beyond coaching stars, Farrell was "a stickler for balance and depended more upon the ability of athletes to win third, fourth and fifth places than those who were picked to win."[35] He won many meets by focusing on team power and placing athletes where they could score points.[35]

When Farrell announced his retirement, the noted sports columnist Grantland Rice paid tribute to Farrell's talent in training sprinters.

"As long as Farrell is active he will continue to turn out championship sprinters. The 'Steve start' is about the fastest thing uncovered. Michigan sprinters are in the lead at ten yards. They're out in front here, even when they're occasionally whipped. There is no finer influence on college athletes in America than that which Steve exerts at Michigan ..."[36]

Hoyt era (1930–39)

Michigan's fourth track coach was Charles B. Hoyt, a native of Iowa won intercollegiate championships in both the 100-yard and 220-yard runs before turning to coaching.[29]

Hoyt was hired by the University of Michigan in 1923 as the assistant to Stephen Farrell and trainer of the football team.[29] In 1930, he took over the head coaching post when Farrell retired. In Hoyt's ten years as Michigan's head coach, Michigan track teams won 14 of a possible 20 Big Ten Conference indoor and outdoor titles, including six straight indoor championships from 1934-1939.[4][29] With Hoyt as head coach, Michigan was 40-6-0 in dual meets.[4] His Michigan athletes also won five individual NCAA championships and 63 individual Big Ten championships (27 indoor and 33 outdoor).[4] The athletes Hoyt coached at Michigan include:

Doherty era (1940–48)

Michigan's fifth track coach, Ken Doherty (1905-1996), was an American decathlon champion before he turned to coaching. He won the American decathlon championship in 1928 and 1929 while a student at the University of Michigan; he also won the bronze medal in the event at the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam.[61][62][63][64] [65]

Doherty, described as "a lean, quiet Scot,"[66] was hired as an assistant track coach at Michigan in 1930. by the University of Michigan as its assistant track coach serving under the Wolverines' new head coach, Charles B. Hoyt.[26] He remained Hoyt's assistant for nine years and took over as Michigan's head track coach in 1939 when Hoyt accepted a job at Yale. Doherty served nine years as Michigan's head coach, leading Michigan to seven Big Ten Conference championships (four indoor and three outdoor).[4] In his nine years as head coach at Michigan, he coached some of the schools all-time great athletes, including the following:

Canham era (1950–68)

Don Canham took over as Michigan's track and field coach in 1950. He remained the head coach from 1950 to 1968. Canham was a Michigan graduate who won the NCAA high jump championship in 1940.[2] During Canham's 19 years as Michigan's head coach, the track and field team compiled a record of 52–13–2 in dual meets and won seven Big Ten team championships—four indoor and three outdoor.[4]

Outstanding individual performers during the Canham era include the following:

Martin era (1969–71)

Dave Martin was Michigan's head coach from 1969-1971. Martin began with the Michigan track team as an All-American runner and Big Ten steeplechase champion. After graduating from Michigan in 1961, he became an assistant coach under Don Canham. Martin took over as head coach in 1969, and coached six All-Americans in his three years with Michigan. Martin's 1969 team finished 11th in the NCAA indoor championships.[67]

Farmer era (1972–74)

Dixon Farmer was Michigan's head coach from 1972-1974. Farmer was an NCAA champion in the 440-yard hurdles before becoming a coach. In three years at Michigan, he coached six All-Americans including Jamaican hurdler Godfrey Murray and Kim Rowe. Farmer's 1973 team finished eighth at the NCAA Indoor Championships.[67]

Harvey era (1975–99)

Coach Harvey with Russell Davis, c. 1976

Jack Harvey served as head coach of the Michigan track team for 25 years from 1975 to 1999—longer than any other head coach in the history of the program. Harvey was a University of Michigan track team member in the 1960s, an All-American and Big Ten shot put champion. He served as an assistant coach at the school before taking over as head coach in 1975. Harvey coached 93 All-Americans and six Olympians in his 25 years as head coach. His track teams placed in the top ten at the NCAA championships on five occasions and won 10 Big Ten championships—four indoor and six outdoor.[67]

Outstanding individual performers during the Harvey era include the following:

Warhurst era (2000–08)

Ron Warhurst was Michigan's head track coach for nine years from 2000 to 2008. Warhurst had been a member of the cross country teams at Western Michigan that won consecutive NCAA championships in 1964 and 1965.[67] From 1968 to 1970, Warhurst served in the U.S. Marine Corps and was awarded two Purple Hearts and a Navy Commendation Medal for service in Vietnam.[68] He became the University of Michigan's cross country coach in 1974, a position he has held for more than 35 years. He also served as assistant coach of the men's track and field team for 26 years.[68] In 2000, Warhurst took over as head coach of the track team. Warhurst has coached 44 All-Americans and 12 Olympians at Michigan. His 2004 team finished fifth at the NCAA indoor championship.[67] In 2008, Warhurst's team won the school's first Big Ten outdoor championship since 1983.[69] Michigan won six individual Big Ten event championships in 2008,[69] and Warhurst was named Big Ten Coach of the Year and Great Lakes Regional Coach of the Year.[68]

During the Warhurst era, Michigan's middle distance runners excelled. In 2003, Canadian runner Nate Brannen won the NCAA indoor championship in the 800-meter run. In 2005,New Zealand middle distance runner Nick Willis won the NCAA indoor championship in the mile run. A third middle distance runner, Andrew Ellerton won the NCAA outdoor championship in the 800-meter run in 2007. Michigan also dominated the distance medley event in the mid-2000s, winning the NCAA indoor championship in 2004 (with a team of DarNell Talbert, Ellerton, Willis, and Brannen) and again in 2005 (with a team of Rondell Ruff, Stan Waithe, Ellerton, and Brannen).

Nicholas 'Nick' Willis is one of Ron Warhurst's biggest coaching success stories.He is a 4 time Olympian and 2 time Olympic Games medallist.He qualified for his first Summer Olympic Games in Athens in 2004,competing in the 1500 meters for New Zealand.Three Michigan middle distance runners all qualified for the 1500 meters race at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing—Nick Willis for New Zealand,and Kevin Sullivan and fellow Canadian Nate Brannen for Canada.Willis won his first Olympic medal at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics in the 1500 meters winning Silver.He also competed in the 2012 London Summer Olympic games,and again in the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 winning his second Olympic medal,Bronze in the 1500 meters.[70]Willis also won the Gold medal in the 1500 meters race at the 2006 Commonwealth Games and Bronze medals in the 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games 1500 meters.[71] Warhurst remained as Head Coach up until 2008,and in 2009 he then became an Associate Head Coach for the Track and Field team under current Head Coach Fred LaPlante.He has coached Nick Willis since he entered the University of Michigan as a Freshman collegiate runner on the MU Track and Field team in 2003,and ever since then as Willis has pursued a successful Professional running career.They have one of the most successful Coach/Athlete partnerships in the history of Wolverine Track and Field to date,spanning 14 years,with Warhurst having guided Willis through 4 Olympic Games and 3 Commonwealth Games culminating in a total of 5 medals in Willis's specialty the 1500M. In 2015 Ron Warhurst,Nick Willis,and former team-mate Nate Brannen were inducted into the Michigan Track and Field Hall of Fame.


Michigan's sprinters and hurdlers also excelled in the late 2000s. In 2007, Jeff Porter won the NCAA indoor championship in the 60-meter hurdles. Sprinter Adam Harris was named the 2008 Big Ten Track Athlete of the Year after winning Big Ten event championships in the 60 meters (indoors), 200 meters and 4×100 meter relay. Harris ran a personal best 20.68 seconds in the 200-meter race at the NCAA Mideast Regional and qualified to compete for Guyana in that event at the 2008 Olympics.[70]


LaPlante era (2009–)

Fred LaPlante took over as the head coach of Michigan's track and field team in 2009. LaPlante is a native of Toledo, Ohio and a graduate of Eastern Michigan University where he was an NCAA champion in the 1,500 meters race.[73] He has been a track coach since the 1970s, including women's head track and field coach at San Diego State from 1979 to 1983 followed by head coach of the University of Southern California women's track and field team for several years in the 1980s.[73] LaPlante was later head coach of the Lehigh University Mountainhawks track and cross country teams in the mid-1990s, where he succeeded nationally renowned coach John Covert. He was the assistant coach at Michigan from 1997 to 2008 and was named the 2008 NCAA Great Lakes Regional Assistant Coach of the Year in 2008. That year, the Wolverines won six Big Ten sprint titles and had All-Americans in the 60-meters (Adam Harris) and the 4×400-meter relay (Andre Barnes, Andrew Wechter, Dan Harmsen and Stann Waithe).[73]

In LaPlante's first season as head coach, sprinter Adam Harris was named the 2009 Big Ten track athlete of the year (indoor). In 2009, Harris set University of Michigan records in the 60-meter dash (6.60) and the 100-meter dash (10.09). He was also named a 2009 All-American in the 60-meter and 100-meter dashes. Harris won eight Big Ten championships at Michigan—four in 2008 and two in 2009. After graduating in 2009, Harris became a volunteer assistant coach with the Michigan track and field team.[74]

Junior hurdler Carl Buchanon, sophomore distance runner Craig Forys, and junior multi-event performer Frank Shotwell have been named co-captains of the Michigan track and field team for the 2010 season.[75]

University of Michigan Track & Field Hall of Fame

In 2006, the University of Michigan track and field staff established the University of Michigan Track and Field Hall of Fame. Eleven individuals have been inducted into the Hall of Fame each year since 2006.[76]

Name Event Competition years Induction year Hall of Honor[77] Key accomplishments
Diemer, BrianSteeplechase1980-19832006NoThree-time Olympian (1984-1992); Olympic bronze medal (1984)
Fonville, CharlieShot put1946-19502006YesThree Big Ten championships; World record holder
Hahn, ArchieSprints1904-19062006YesTwo-time Olympian (1904 and 1906); Four Olympic gold medals
Hoyt, CharlesHead coach1930-19392006No14 Big Ten Conference titles
Hubbard, DeHartSprints, long jump1923-19252006 YesFirst African-American athlete to win an individual Olympic gold medal (1924); set world record in the long jump
Johnson, CarlSprints, hurdles high jump1918-19202006No1920 Olympian
Murray, GodfreyHurdles1970-19732006No1972 Olympian
Nilsson, Roland "Fritz"Shot put, discus1952-19542006NoSix Big Ten championships; Finished 5th in the shot put and 7th in the discus throw at the 1952 Summer Olympics
Robinson, TomSprints1959-19612006YesRepresented Bahamas in four Summer Olympics(1956-1968); gold medalist in the 100 meters at 1962 Central American and Caribbean Games
Sullivan, KevinDistance1994-19982006No12 Big Ten individual titles; Three NCAA individual titles; Two-time Olympian
Tolan, EddieSprints1929-19312006YesGold medals in 100 and 200 metres, 1932 Olympics; Set world record in 100 yrd dash at 9.5
Barten, HerbDistance1946-19492007NoFive individual Big Ten titles; 1948 Olympian
Bernard, KentSprints1963-19652007NoFive individual Big Ten titles; 1964 Olympian
Craig, RalphSprints1909-19112007NoTwo Olympic gold medals (1912)
Doherty, KenHead coach1940-19482007NoSeven Big Ten team titles
Donakowski, Bill Distance 1974-1977 2007NoThree individual titles
Gardner, Neil Hurdles 1994-1997 2007 NoThree NCAA individual titles; 1996 Olympian
McEwen, DonMiddle distance1950-19522007YesSix Big Ten individual titles; Two NCAA individual titles
Northrup, PhilJavelin, pole vault1925-19272007NoThree NCAA individual titles; Three Big Ten individual titles
Rose, RalphShot put, discus19042007NoThree Olympic gold medals
Scherer, JohnDistance1986-19892007NoFour Big Ten individual titles; Three NCAA individual titles
Watson, BillLong jump, discus, shot put1937-19392007Yes12 individual Big Ten titles
Brooker, JamesPole vault1923-19252008NoTwo individual Big Ten titles; Two NCAA individual titles; Olympic bronze medal (1924)
Bruce, AndrewSprints1979-19822008NoEight individual Big Ten titles; 1980 Olympian
Canham, DonHigh jump
Head coach
2008YesFour individual Big Ten titles; One NCAA individual title; 11 Big Ten conference titles as coach
Dvorak, CharlesPole vault1900-19042008NoOlympic gold medal (1904); Olympic silver medal (1900)
Hume, Robert H.Middle distance1943-19462008YesFive individual Big Ten titles; One NCAA individual title
Hume, H. RossMiddle distance1943-19462008YesSix individual Big Ten titles; One NCAA individual title
Lattany, MikeHigh jump1978-19802008NoThree individual Big Ten titles
Lep, ErgasMiddle distance1960-19622008NoNine individual Big Ten titles; Two-time Olympian for Canada (1960 and 1964)
Mortimer, JohnDistance1996-19992008NoFive individual Big Ten titles
Owen, DaveShot put1955-19572008NoNine individual Big Ten titles; One NCAA individual title
Schule, FredHurdles 2008NoOlympic gold medal (1904)
Ward, WillisSprints, Long jump1931-19352008YesEight individual Big Ten titles; Three NCAA individual titles
Darr, BradPole vault1989-19922009NoThree-time All-American; Big Ten champion; Penn Relays champion
Farrell, StephenHead coach1918-19292009No1923 NCAA team championship; coached 3 Olympic champions and 11 national champions
Garrels, JohnShot put, Hurdles, Discus1904-19072009NoOlympic silver medal (1908 hurdles); Olympic bronze medal (1908 shot put); Six-time Big Ten individual champion; Three-time Penn Relays discus champion
Hester, George "Buck"Head coach1926-19282009NoTwo-time Canadian Olympian (1924 and 1928); Two-time All-American; Two Big Ten individual championships
Kutschinski, RonDistance1967-19692009No1968 Olympian; All-American; Big Ten outdoor champion
Landstrom, EelesPole vault1958-19592009NoThree-time Finnish Olympian (1952-1960); Olympic bronze medal (1960); All-American; Two Big Ten individual championships
Meyer, GregDistance1974-19772009NoAll-American (steeplechase); Big Ten Champion; 1983 Boston Marathon winner
Stoller, Sam Sprinter1935-19372009No1936 Olympian and recipient of the USOC General MacArthur Medal; Two-time All-American; Big Ten individual champion
Ufer, BobSprints1941-19442009YesSet world indoor record in 440 yard race; Three Big Ten individual championships
Wilcher, ThomasHurdles1983-19872009NoOne NCAA individual championship; One Big Ten individual championship; Three-time All-American
Warhurst,RonU-M Men's Head Coach-Cross Country1974-20092015NoMen's Head Coach Track&Field 2000-2008coached 11 NCAA Championship's;Won 7 'Big Ten' Team titles;4 time 'Big Ten' Coach of the year Willis,NicholasU-M Middle Distance runner 2003-20052015No2003 'Big Ten' Freshman of the year(Indoor&Outdoor);6 time 'Big Ten' champion;2005 Indoor Mile champion;4 Time Olympian-(2004,'08,'12,'16);2008 Beijing Olympic Silver Medallist(1500m);2016 Rio Olympic Bronze Medallist(1500m)

NCAA individual event champions

Michigan track and field athletes have won 43 NCAA individual event championships.[2] (All championships are outdoor unless otherwise noted.)

Michigan's Olympic medalists

The following Michigan track and field athletes have won Olympic medals, including 14 gold medals.[3]

1900 Olympics

1904 Olympics

1906 Olympics

1908 Olympics

Gayle Dull training on board ship headed for 1908 Olympics

1912 Olympics

1920 Olympics

1924 Olympics

1928 Olympics

1932 Olympics

1936 Olympics

1960 Olympics

1964 Olympics

1984 Olympics

2008/2016 Olympics


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