Furman head coach Robert Gary, a native of Chicago, Ill., is a two-time Olympian (Atlanta, 1996 and Athens, 2004), two-time World Championships qualifier, 11-time World Cross Country USA Team member, and Track & Field News 2004 Cross Country Runner of the Year.
Following an illustrious running career, Gary has established himself as a one of the nation’s elite coaches through his involvement with USA Track and Field, as head coach of the Ohio State men’s cross country and track and field program, and now in his third season as head coach of the Furman cross country and track and field program, as well as the Furman Elite Professional Running Team.
In his role with USA Track & Field, Gary has been actively involved in preparing Team USA for international competition. Most recently, he coached the USA senior men’s team to a runner-up finish and a silver medal at the 2013 World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland (the highest Team USA finish in history). In 2010, he served as the men’s distance coach for Team USA at the IAAF World Championships in Daegu, South Korea. He was the head coach for the USA junior team at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Punta Umbria, Spain., and was also USA’s U-23 distance coach at the North America, Central America, and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC) meet in Toluca, Mexico.
The 2013, 2014, and 2015 Southern Conference Coach of the Year for both the men's and women's cross country programs, Gary led the Paladins to a pair of cross country titles at the 2013 league championship meet, the women's first since 2000 and the first for the Paladin men's program since 1976, then replicated the feat in 2014, with the men taking the top nine spots at the SoCon Cross Country Championship. Two weeks later, the men’s team finished second at the NCAA Southeast Regional meet to earn a trip to the NCAA Championships. Tripp Hurt, Aaron Templeton, Tanner Hinkle, and Troy Reeder were all named to the USTFCCCA All-Regional Team.
The women handily defended their cross country with a record-low 22 points at the 2014 conference championships then went on to finish sixth in at the NCAA Southeast Regional Championships, the highest finish in Furman school history. Sophomore Allie Buchalski qualified for the NCAA Cross Country Championship Meet.
The Paladins earned their third-straight SoCon titles for both the men's and women's cross country programs in 2015. The Paladin men went on to finish fourth at the NCAA Southeast Regional, qualifying for the NCAA Championships, while junior Allie Buchalski, who won the SoCon individual title for the second-straight year, placed fourth at regionals to qualify for the NCAAs as an individual. Buchalski, Tanner Hinkle, Frank Lara, and Aaron Templeton garnered All-Region honors.
Buchalski became the first All-American in the history of the Paladin cross country program with a seventh-place finish at the NCAA Championships, while the Furman men's team took 13th place at the meet.
At the 2016 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, Troy Reeder earned All-American accolades with a seventh-place finish in the 3,000m Steeplechase, becoming just the second All-American in the history of the Paladin track and field program. Reeder set the Furman record of 8:36.51 in the event during the NCAA semifinals, clinching a spot in the finals. Also at the outdoor championships, Buchalski finished 14th in the 5,000m to claim second team All-American honors.
During the 2015 track season, Tripp Hurt, Tanner Hinkle, and Sinead Haughey qualified for the NCAA East Preliminaries, with Haughey becoming Furman's first NCAA Championship finalist (for both men and women) after a record-setting 10K performance. Freshman Jacquelyn Crow earned her start at the USA Jr. Championships in Eugene, Oregon where she placed 10th in the 1500m amongst national competition.
In 2013, Tripp Hurt led the Paladin men with a fourth-place finish at the meet, while Troy Reeder, who was honored as the 2013 SoCon Men's Cross Country Freshman of the Year, joined Hurt on the All-SoCon first team after finishing seventh. Tanner Hinkle and Brock Baker earned All-SoCon second team accolades after Hinkle recorded a ninth-place finish and Baker posted a 12th-place finish. The Paladins claimed five out of the seven spots on the All-SoCon Freshman Team, as Reeder, Hinkle, and Baker were joined on the team by Nate Riech and Connor Sorrells.
Freshman Allie Buchalski paced the Paladin women in 2013, posting a time of 17:32.43 to finish second overall and earn the 2013 SoCon Women's Cross Country Freshman of the Year Award. Buchalski was joined on the All-SoCon first team by Grace Tinkey, who placed third. Senior Sinead Haughey, who finished eighth, claimed a spot on the all-conference second team for the third time in her career. Furman placed four runners on the All-SoCon Freshman Team, as Buchalski, Tinkey, Julia Rodriguez, and Laura Miller placed among the league's top seven rookies at the meet.
Buchalski and Tinkey, arguably the best 1-2 freshman punch in the country, represented Team USA at the Bupa Great Edinburgh XC International Challenge and North America, Central America, and Carribean XC Championship, respectively.
During the 2014 outdoor track and field season, Hurt won SoCon Indoor Championships in the 3,000m and 5,000m and added two additional titles in the 5,000m and the 3,000m Steeplechase at the SoCon Outdoor Championships. Hurt went on to break the Furman record in the Steeplechase at the 2014 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field East Regional, posting a time of 8:44 and becoming the first Paladin ever to qualify for the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships. Haughey and Hinkle also competed in the 10,000m at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field East Regional
In his first year at the helm of the Paladin program, Gary coached All-Region performer Wilkerson Given to a 20th-place finish at the NCAA Southeast Region Cross Country Championships, the highest finish by any Furman men’s runner in at least a decade. Given went on to reach the NCAA East Regional Outdoor Championships in the 3,000m Steeplechase, an event he had just began competing in that spring.
Also during Gary’s first season, Haughey won league championships in the 5,000m and 10,000m outdoors, marking only the fifth time in Furman women’s track and field history that an athlete won two events at the same league outdoor championship meet and the first time since 1996, when Salima Fountain clinched first in both the 200m and 400m. For her efforts, Haughey became the Paladins’ first recipient of the SoCon Outstanding Female Track Performer Award.
In addition to setting school records in the men’s 400m and 3,000m indoors and the women’s 400m hurdles outdoors, Gary’s inaugural team earned nine All-Southern Conference citations and placed two athletes on the Southern Conference All-Freshman Team.
Gary’s students also performed in the classroom, as Furman placed 10 runners and field participants on the Southern Conference Fall Academic All-Conference Team and 11 athletes on the winter team. Both Paladin teams were honored as 2012 Division I All-Academic Cross Country Teams, and senior Emily Wirzba garnered Furman’s Elizabeth Blackwell Academic Achievement Award, which is given annually to the senior female athlete with the highest GPA.
In his first year at the helm of the Paladin program, he introduced a Furman recruiting class among the top in the nation for both the men’s and women’s class. The men’s class was highlighted by two-time Footlocker qualifier Josh Brickell of Peachtree, Ala. The women’s class included Georgia State Champion and Gatorade Athlete of the Year Allie Buchaliski, and North Carolina State Champion Anna McBride.
As head coach for the professional training group, Furman Elite, Gary helped guide Cory Leslie to a new personal best and IAAF ‘A’ standard in the 3000m Steeplechase of 8:20.31 as well as 3:34 for the 1500m, making Cory one of only five Americans with the IAAF A-standard in two different events. Cory will represent Team USA in the 2015 Pan-Am Championships. Gary became the only American to have coached three different American Steeplechasers to 8:20 or faster marks and four 1500m athletes to 3:35 or faster marks. After Leslie placed fourth at the 2014 USATF Championships, training partner Craig Forys had the fourth-fastest steeple in America running 8:24 in Lucerne, Switzerland. Additionally, Gary also guided huge PR’s of 13:21 (5000m Olympic standard) for Jeff See and 3:37 for 1500m for Isaac Presson.
On the women’s side of Furman Elite, third-year member Heidi Gregson once again placed inside the top three in winning the 2015 Australian Championships at 1500m. She qualified for her second World Relays and first World Championship berth. Her training partner, Nicole Bush returned to the top of the American form chart once again when she ran 9:24 (fifthth fastest in US History a year after winning the 2013 USATF Steeplechase title and earning a trip to the 2013 World Track and Field Championships in Moscow, Russia.
In 2014, Gary helped develop Stephanie Garcia into one of America’s best all-time steeplechasers. Garcia, who set the American 2000m Steeplechase record running 6:14 and went on to place thirrd at the USA National Championships in 2014. Eventually, Garcia went on to run 9:24 for the 3000m Steeplechase, placing her fourth on the all-time USA list. In 2015, Garcia achieved the Olympic A-standard at 1500m, 5000m, as well as placed second in the USATF steeplechase with a PR (9:23) to qualify for the 2015 World Championships.
Prior to his time at Furman, Gary, a native of Chicago, Ill., spent six years as the head men’s track and field coach at Ohio State and also served as the school’s men’s cross country coach for the past 16 years. During his tenure with the Buckeyes, he guided his teams to six top-three finishes at Big Ten championship events, including runner-up performances at the 2009 cross country meet, plus the 2009 outdoor and 2010 indoor meets. Under Gary’s tutelage, Ohio State garnered 17 individual titles and seven relay crowns.
The Buckeyes reached the NCAA cross country championships during eight of Gary’s 16 years as head coach, finishing as high as 11th-place in 2005. Gary’s teams produced numerous all-Big Ten honorees, two All-Great Lakes regional selections, and two All-Americans (Brian Olinger and Jeff See). Most recently, his 2011 squad placed 23rd at the national meet.
During the 2011 indoor season, Gary led the Buckeyes to a fourth-place finish in a very tight Big Ten conference meet, placing just nine points shy of first place, and produced the fourth-most NCAA Indoor Championship qualifiers. His Ohio State team concluded the NCAA Indoor Championships with the fourth-most All-Americans, including two relay teams comprised entirely of student-athletes from the state of Ohio that set Buckeye records to qualify for the meet. Gary also coached three sub-4 minute milers this indoors (Cory Leslie, Daniel Huling, and See).
Before his time as head track and field coach at Ohio State, Gary served nine years as an assistant coach with the Buckeye team.
Gary’s involvement with USA Track and Field has helped fashion his reputation as one of the nation’s elite coaches. Gary’s past proteges include Olinger, who won the prestigious Manchester Road Race and turned in the top American finish and the third-best time ever at the Falmouth Road Race, and See, who became Gary’s fourth mile champion after winning the USATF indoor mile championship in 2011. In 2010, he coached former Miami University track talent Huling, who won the 3000m steeplechase at the 2010 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Huling was one of several track and field stars, including Rob Myers (1500m), Olinger (steeplechase), and See (1500m), who trained under Gary in preparation for the 2008 Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore. Myers, Huling, and Olinger advanced to the finals in their respective events at the trials.
A two-time Olympian (1996 Atlanta Games and 2004 Athens Games) in the 3000m steeplechase, Gary concluded his own running career in 2005 after becoming one of only five Ohio State track and field athletes to earn bids to two separate U.S. Olympic teams. He finished second in the steeplechase at the U.S. Olympic Trials in 1996, recording a career-beset time of 8:19.46, then posted a third-place finish at the 2004 Trials eight years later. As a cross country athlete, Gary garnered 11 career appearances on the U.S. cross country team and was chosen Track and Field News Cross Country Runner of the Year in 2004.
A 1996 graduate of Ohio State, Gary completed an illustrious career as a member of the Buckeye track and field program, earning six All-American citations and winning the Big Ten championship in the steeplechase in 1994. His time of 7:52.63 in the 3,000m still stands as the Ohio State indoor record in the event. A three-time All-Big Ten selection, he helped the Buckeyes to three league championships and was inducted into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009.
Gary and his wife, the former Rita Arndt, who serves as an assistant coach in the Paladin track and field/cross country program, are parents of a son, Percy.