After a year that saw more distance runners achieve All-America status than in any other time in program history and the men's cross country team win its first conference title in 10-years, Ryan Cole enters his third year working to elevate the distance group as the head cross country coach and assistant track and field coach at the United States Air Force Academy.
Four distance runners combined to earn seven All-American honors for the Falcons during the 2015-16 academic year. Hannah Everson (22nd) and Kyle Eller (28th) both earned All-American honors in cross country, marking the first time since 1967 that USAFA had multiple Division I cross country honorees. Everson, Patrick Corona, and Matt Dorsey also earned All-American honors during the indoor and outdoor track and field seasons.
Cole guided the men's cross country team to its first Mountain West team championship since 2003, while the women's third-place finish was the best MW team finish for any women's sport in Academy history. Cole, who was named the 2015 MW Men's Cross Country Coach of the Year, saw his distance group also contribute to the men's track and field program sweeping the indoor and outdoor conference titles, marking the first time in USAFA history that the program has won the MW Triple Crown.
Individually, Everson had a remarkable senior year, becoming the first female distance runner from any service academy to earn Division I Cross Country All-America honors. She also finished seventh at the NCAA Indoor Championships in the 5000-meter run, before perhaps her best individual race -- a third-place finish in the 10,000-meter run at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, where she was the top American finisher in the race. Everson, the 2015 Mountain Region cross country champion, set USAFA records on the track for the indoor 3000-meter run (9:18.68a), indoor 5000-meter run (15:53.64) and outdoor 10,000-meter run (32:47.25), while earning USTFCCCA Mountain Region Athlete of the Year awards in cross country (2015) and indoor track (2016) -- the first such awards in program history.
Corona had an equally accomplished year. An NCAA cross country qualifier and Mountain West champion in the 3000-meter run, Corona earned Second-Team All-America honors at the NCAA Indoor Championships (ninth in the 3000-meter run) and First-Team honors at the NCAA Outdoor Championships (eighth in the 5000-meter run). He set four school records (indoor mile: 3:59.77a, indoor 3000-meter run: 7:50.60, outdoor mile: 4:00.51, outdoor 5000-meter run: 13:31.66), anchored Air Force to its first distance medley relay win at the Drake Relays, and represented Team USA at the NACAC U23 Championships, winning the 5000-meter run in San Salvador. For his overall excellence in all three seasons, Corona was selected as the Mountain West Male Athlete of the Year for all sports -- the first recipient of that award for any cadet in Air Force Academy history.
Dorsey earned All-America honors during the outdoor track season, being named to the second-team for a 14th-place finish in the 1500-meter run at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Dorsey became the fastest 1500-meter runner in USAFA history last season, setting the school record at 3:41.30, while also running 4:00.30 for the full mile during the indoor season.
During the fall, the men's cross country team reached a season-high NCAA ranking of 21st on Nov 3 -- the program's highest ranking since 2005. Corona (second) and Eller (third) earned first-team All-MW honors, while Dan Caddigan (10th) and Dorsey (13th) received second-team All-MW designation. Eller and Corona also received All-Region honors by finishing third and fourth, respectively, at the NCAA Mountain Regional. In addition to winning the women's 6K at the NCAA Mountain Regional, Everson finished third at the conference meet, setting an Academy record for the best individual finish and the third first-team All-MW award of her career. Carina Gillespie joined Everson on the All-Region team, following a 21st-place finish.
For the year, the USAFA distance group had nine new Academy records, 28 new event group top-10 marks, and 16 new class records, in addition to receiving 32 academic all-conference honors and 12 Mountain West Scholar-Athlete awards.
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 Championships. He saw Everson win the 10,000-meter run at the West Preliminary Meet and the women's distance team score 30 of Air Force's 33 points at the Mountain West Indoor Championships. The men added 44 points at the MW Outdoor Championships -- a total that was more than any other distance group in the conference -- and collected Mountain West titles in the two longest races (Corona: 5000-meter run, Eller: 10,000-meter run), following Championship Meet Record-performances in both. Cole also saw the men's cross country team break in the top-30 of the NCAA rankings on Nov. 4 (29th). Backed by a runner-up finish from Corona and a seventh-place finish from Riley Coates, the men finished second at the 2014 MW Cross Country Championships.
Prior to joining the staff at the Air Force Academy, Cole spent seven years at Arizona State University, where he served as the women's cross country/distance coach from 2011-2014 and as the men's and women's assistant cross country/distance coach from 2007-2011.
While the Sun Devil women's distance coach, Cole coached the 2014 NCAA Outdoor 1500-meter champion and saw his runners account for seven NCAA All-America honors. His 2011 squad qualified for the NCAA Cross Country Championships and his women's teams posted a perfect 1000-rating for the Academic Progress Rate all three years he was the head coach.
During his first four years as an assistant coach at ASU, Cole was a part of two NCAA track and field team championships and five NCAA top-four team performances. Cole also handled many logistical responsibilities for the program and served as the home meet director for the Sun Angel Track Classic.
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 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, Michigan. 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.