Coach Cole's Full Bio (pdf)
Ryan Cole will enter his third season as a full-time coach at Arizona State after assuming coaching responsibilities for the women's cross country and mid-distance/distance student-athletes in 2014. An active recruiter for both the men's and women's distance programs during his early years in Tempe, Cole took over the reigns of the women's distance program and led the team to its 13th NCAA Championship apperance in the last 14 years.
In 2012 and 2013, Cole coached standout Shelby Houlihan to back-to-back All-America honors in cross country, where Houlihan most-recently finished eighth at the NCAA meet. Houlihan's finish was the highest for the Sun Devil women's program since 2001.
Cole rose through the ranks of the program after joining the staff as a graduate assistant in 2007-08. He served as an assistant to Louie Quintana for the three years while also creating several new facets for the program and handling many of the daily administrative aspects, including fundraising, alumni relations, community integration, and revitalizing ASU's home event management for track & field.
Along with recruiting and coaching, Cole served as the home track & field meet director for the Sun Devil home events, including one of the NCAA's premiere events, the Sun Angel Track Classic, which enters its 35th year in 2015. Cole restructured the high school portion of the Sun Angel Track Classic into one of the largest high school events in the Southwest and also assisted in expanding the Desert Twilight Cross Country Festival into one of the largest and most unique high school cross country events in the country.
While splitting time between recruiting, serving as an assistant coach and coordinating ASU's home track & field/cross country events, Cole developed a female post-collegiate distance group in Tempe during 2010-11. With a handful of athletes, the Sun Elite Track Club recorded eight Team USA qualifying performances on the roads, in cross country and during the indoor/outdoor track seasons, highlighted by Allie Kieffer's podium finishes for the U.S. Indoor Champs (3rd in the 3,000m) and at the U.S. Cross Country Championships (10th). Stephanie Pezzullo and Kristina Vegh represented Sun Elite at the U.S. Outdoor Track & Field Championships, where Pezzullo finished 13th in the steeplechase and Vegh competed in the 10,000m run. All group members ran significant personal bests during their year working with Cole with the group posting top marks of 4:17.56 for 1,500m, 9:08.13 for 3,000m, 9:56.82 for 3,000m steeplechase, 15:52.37 for 5,000m and 33:29.00 for 10,000m.
As Quintana's assistant, Cole helped the Sun Devils continue to be a highly successful distance program in 2010-11. Ben Engelhardt become one of the Sun Devils highest individual finishers at the NCAA Cross Country Championships, placing 51st, while also earning All-Pac-10 and All-West Region honors during the fall. Engelhardt also broke the ASU indoor 5,000m record and ran the school's fifth fastest 10,000m time outdoors. ASU newcomer Darius Terry had a great outdoor campaign capped by becoming ASU's first NCAA All-American in the 1,500m, placing 10th in the event at nationals after finishing fourth in the 1,500 at the Pac-10 championships. On the women's side in 2010-11, Lindsay Prescott highlighted the women's program by placing ninth at the Pac-10 Cross Country Championships and scoring in the 10,000m at the Pac-10 Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
Prior to this past year, the men and the women advanced to the NCAA Cross Country Championships after both finished in third place at the Pac-10 Cross Country Championships, highlighted by the women's team finishing ahead of Stanford for the first time in school history. The individual highlight of the 2009 cross country season was Brandon Bethke's runner-up finish at the Pac-10 Championships and 7th place finish at the NCAA Championships, which is the highest individual men's finish in school history. In her only season for the Sun Devils, Sun Elite member Kieffer placed 49th overall at the NCAA champs, just missing All-American status.
In 2008, his second season with the program, the Sun Devil women advanced to their 11th-consecutive appearance at the NCAA Cross Country Championships (the third-longest active streak in the nation at the time) where the team placed 14th overall with Kari Hardt earning All-America honors. One year prior to that, Cole helped Quintana guide the women's cross country team to a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Championships while the men placed 26th in the same meet.
Following the teams' success in cross country, the distance runners continued to excel on the track. That year, Bethke and Mason McHenry both posted some of the fastest times in the nation in the outdoor 5,000m run and the indoor 800m run, respectively, with both earning All-America honors. Bethke placed fourth overall in the outdoor meet. The men's distance medley finished second at the 2008 NCAA Indoor Championships before anchor-leg Kyle Alcorn claimed the individual title in the 3,000m run to help ASU win its first men's indoor national team title. Alcorn also went on to win the 3,000m steeplechase at the NCAA Outdoor meet, leading the men to a sixth-place team finish. Nectaly Barbosa also ran well at the outdoor championships, placing 10th and earning All-American honors in the 800m run, while Ali Kielty qualified for the women's 10,000m run in 34:07.
Cole also has been a vital part of ASU's recruiting efforts, including recently landing two outstanding recruits in Shelby Houlihan and Carly Paracholski as part of an eight-strong incoming freshman recruiting class in the women's distance program. Houlihan, a nine-time Iowa state champion and the 2011 Iowa Gatorade Athlete of the Year, also finished off her senior year ranked fourth in the country for the girl's mile run with a time of 4:43.64. Paracholski comes to Tempe as Canada's youth record-holder for the 800m run, competing in the semi-finals at the 2010 World Junior Championships with a time of 2:05.99.
Cole began his coaching career in 2006 as an assistant at Northwood University, an NCAA Division II school in Midland, Mich. During his only year, he helped a pair of athletes become the first distance runners in program history to qualify for a national meet, including the NCAA Cross Country Championships (men) and the NCAA Outdoor Championships (women's 3,000m run). His distance corps also broke school records in 13 different events during the year.
As a student-athlete, Cole began his career at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he competed in cross country and track & field. While part of the Badger program, Wisconsin won four consecutive Big Ten cross country titles and finished no worse than sixth at the NCAA Cross Country Championships each year, including runner-up finishes in 2003 and 2004. With a year of eligibility remaining, Cole concluded his career as a cross country All-American at Grand Valley State University, an NCAA Division II school in Allendale, Mich. Cole also helped the Lakers sweep all three conference titles for cross country and track & field, while setting the indoor conference championship meet record at 5,000m and GVSU's school record in the 10,000m.
Over the course of his career, Cole has been influenced and mentored by his past coaches and co-workers, including former Wisconsin coach Jerry Schumacher, GVSU's Division II National Coach of the Year Jerry Baltes, former Northwood University coach Scott Cook, and Quintana, ASU's current men's distance coach.
A native of Sanford, Mich., and a graduate of Meridian High School, Cole completed his collegiate education at Wisconsin where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy in May 2006.