Michael Whittlesey Named KU Assistant Coach for Cross Country and Track and Field
July 31, 2009
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Michael Whittlesey joins the Kansas Athletics staff as assistant coach for cross country and middle distance/distance running, KU Head Coach Stanley Redwine announced Friday.
Whittlesey comes to KU after serving 11 years as the assistant coach in charge of cross country and distance running for the track program at North Carolina. In addition to his coaching duties at UNC, Whittlesey worked as the assistant director for both men’s and women’s track and field and cross country for the past four seasons.
“We are very excited to have Michael joining us,” Redwine said. “He has a wealth of experience and will be a phenomenal help in recruiting. His background is impeccable and I know the athletes are excited about the fresh new look he will bring to the program.”
Under his direction, North Carolina produced nine NCAA individual and relay titles in six years, 70 All-Americans and 36 conference Champions. Most recently, Whittlesey led the track team to back-to-back NCAA titles in the distance medley relay at the 2006 and 2007 Indoor NCAA Championships. Along with the 2007 distance medley relay title, Whittlesey coached sophomore anchor Brie Felnagle to the individual NCAA title in the outdoor 1500-meter. Under the guidance of Whittlesey, Felnagle has captured three NCAA titles and was named an All-American 10 times in her career. Whittlesey also coached stand-out athlete Shalane Flanagan, who was a two-time NCAA cross country champion in 2002 and 2003. With the help of Whittlesey, Flanagan also earned a spot on the 2004 US Olympic team in the 5,000-meter.
Additionally, in his 11 years at the helm of the cross country program at UNC, the Carolina women’s team advanced to the NCAA Championships 10 times, including a program-best sixth-place finish in 1999. With a 10th-place finish in 2004, the Tar Heel women posted back-to-back top-10 NCAA finishes for the first time in school history.
After assisting the Tar Heels to a fourth place indoor finish and another top-10 outdoor finish and producing four NCAA individual and relay titles, Whittlesey was awarded the first-ever NCAA Division I Track and Field National Assistant Coach of the Year for women’s middle distance/distance in 2003. Whittlesey also received the 2007 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field East Regional Assistant Coach of the Year honor.
Whittlesey has twice won both the ACC Cross Country Coach of the Year and Southeast Region Coach of the Year awards, earning each in 1999 and 2003.
A native of Morris, Conn., Whittlesey started his coaching career at UNC-Charlotte, where he served two years as assistant coach. While with the 49ers, Whittlesey coached his athletes to 53 new school records in 18 different events and coached all-conference performers in the triple jump and javelin. Before his time at Charlotte, Whittlesey coached at the University of Connecticut for six years and also served as an assistant strength coach.
Whittlesey’s competitive experience includes being the first American finisher in the 1995 Boston Marathon. He also qualified for the 1996 Olympic Trials in the marathon after competing as a non-recruited athlete at the University of Connecticut. He graduated from UConn in May 1990 with a bachelor’s degree in sports medicine/athletic training and later earned a master’s in biophysical science/exercise physiology in 1993 and a doctorate of philosophy in sports science/exercise physiology in 1997.
“I am very excited to join the athletic family at Kansas,” Whittlesey said. “It is a great opportunity for me to join a historic program with a great history of track and field and cross country success. I am looking forward to working with the great staff and student athletes. I want to thank Coach Redwine for this amazing opportunity.”