After a year that saw seven new Academy distance records, 26 new event-group Top-10 performances, and five distance athletes compete at the NCAA Championships, Ryan Cole returns for his second year as the head cross country coach and assistant track and field coach at the United States Air Force Academy.
During his first season with the Falcons, Cole coached Zach Perkins to a national runner-up finish in the 1500-meter run at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships and a new Academy record in that event at 3:41.36. He saw Hannah Everson set four program records in 2015, while qualifying for the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the 10,000-meter run. Everson, who won the 10K at the West Preliminary Meet, earned first-team all-conference honors during both the cross country and indoor track and field season. Everson's record-breaking year included new program-best marks in the indoor 3000- (9:37.07) and 5000-meter (16:32.84) events, as well as the outdoor 5000- (16:22.69) and 10,000-meter (34:23.52) races. In addition, both Academy records in the mile run were broken during the indoor season, as Matt Dorsey took down the men's record in 4:01.37 and Carina Gillespie set a new women's standard at 4:44.17.
During the fall, the Air Force men's cross country team broke into the NCAA Top-30 national rankings on Nov. 4 (29th). Patrick Corona took the runner-up position at the Mountain West Cross Country Championships, while Riley Coates joined Corona as all-conference first-team selections by finishing seventh. Coates, an all-region honoree, also qualified individually for the NCAA Cross Country Championships, placing 77th.
Cole saw the women's distance team score 30 of Air Force's 33 points at the Mountain West Indoor Championships, while the men accounted for 44 points at the MW Outdoor Championships -- a total that was more than any other men's distance group in the conference. Air Force also collected conference titles at 5000 meters (Corona) and 10,000 meters (Kyle Eller) during the outdoor season, setting new MW Championship Meet Records in both events. Eller, Corona, Perkins and Dorsey (1500-meter run) also qualified for the NCAA Championships (West Preliminary) in Austin, Texas.
Academically, Cole's distance group was awarded 14 academic all-conference honors from the Mountain West and Rebecca Esselstein, a Rhodes Scholar, was named the Capital One Academic All-American of the Year for NCAA Division I Women's Cross Country/Track and Field.
Prior to joining the Air Force staff, Cole spent seven years at Arizona State University, where he served as the women's cross country/distance coach from 2011-14 and the men's and women's assistant cross country/distance coach from 2007-11.
While serving as the Sun Devil women's distance coach, Cole guided Shelby Houlihan to the 2014 NCAA title in the 1500-meter run, an eighth-place finish at the 2013 NCAA Cross Country Championships and seven All-America awards. His 2013-14 squad posted 12 new marks on Arizona State's all-time top 10 list, while five athletes ran under 4:30 for 1500 meters during the 2014 outdoor season. His women's team qualified for the NCAA Cross Country Championships in 2011, and in all three years as the head cross country coach, his squads posted a perfect 1000-rating for the team's Academic Progress Rate.
As an assistant at ASU, Cole was part of a program that claimed the women's fourth-place team trophy at the 2007 NCAA Cross Country Championships, while the track and field team won both the men's and women's team titles at the 2008 NCAA Indoor Championships. Cole recruited the 2012 NCAA indoor 800-meter champion Mason McHenry. The program also had a two-time NCAA champion in Kyle Alcorn (2008 indoor 3000-meter run, 2008 outdoor 3000-meter steeplechase), as well as All-Americans in Brandon Bethke (fourth in the indoor 3000-meter run in 2010, fourth in the outdoor 5000-meter run in 2010, seventh in cross country in 2009) and the men's indoor distance medley relay (second in 2008). As an assistant, Cole handled many logistical responsibilities for the program. He also served as the home meet director for the Sun Angel Track Classic, re-establishing it as one of the country's premiere track and field events.
While an assistant at Arizona State, Cole founded the Sun Elite Track Club, a post-collegiate group that recorded eight Team USA qualifying performances, including podium finishes by Allie Kieffer at the 2011 U.S. National Indoor Championships (third in the 3000-meter run) and at the 2011 U.S. Cross Country Championships (10th).
Cole began his coaching career in 2006 at Northwood University in Midland, Mich. In his one year with the Timberwolves, the distance group broke 13 school records and Cole helped a pair of runners qualify for the NCAA Division II National Championships, including the school's first men's cross country qualifier and the first women's track and field distance finalist.
As a student-athlete, Cole competed for four years at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and one year at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Mich.
A native of Sanford, Mich., Cole graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2006 with a bachelor's degree in philosophy.