Mike Poehlein is in his 31st season at Purdue University, doubling as the track and field team?s distances coach and as the head cross country coach for both men and women.
Poehlein has established himself as the most prolific Purdue cross country and track and field coach in the history of the university. He holds the longest all-time tenure among cross country coaches at Purdue and the second-longest among track and field coaches (behind Dave Rankin at 35 years). He is the senior member among all current Boilermaker coaches.
Poehlein assumed women?s cross country duties in summer 2001. He took over the Boilermaker men?s cross country program from Roger Kerr in August of 1973, and also served as the assistant track and field coach to Rankin before succeeding him in June of 1981. Since his arrival at Purdue, the cross country and track and field teams have enjoyed great success.
From 1981 to 1986, the cross country team qualified for the NCAA Championships four times. Purdue climbed as high as seventh in the country in 1985 and was ranked as high as 15th in the nation in 1986. Poehlein was named Big Ten Coach of the Year in 1985 and was selected NCAA District IV Coach of the Year in 1986.
In track and field, Poehlein was named Big Ten Coach of the Year for the 2001 indoor season. His Boilermakers finished fourth in the 2001 national power rankings. Purdue finished third at the 1988 Big Ten Indoor and Outdoor Championships, second at the 1989 Big Ten Indoor and Outdoor Championships and second at the 1990 Big Ten Outdoor Championships. The second-place finishes are the best ever in Purdue track and field history. Poehlein was named Big Ten Coach of the Year for the indoor and outdoor seasons in 1989 and the outdoor campaign in 1990.
Under Poehlein, a total of 24 cross country and track and field athletes have earned All-America recognition 30 times.
Besides his duties at Purdue, Poehlein has had extensive experience on the national and international levels. In the summer of 1997, Poehlein served as head coach for the United States Junior Pan-American Games Team that competed in Havana, Cuba. In the summer of 1994, he served as an assistant coach at the Pan-African Games. Poehlein was the head coach of the North Region Track and Field Team for the 1986 U.S. Olympic Festival in Houston, and was an assistant coach for the 1990 Goodwill Games in Seattle. He is a national Olympic Development Program coach, and his athletes have competed in several meets in Europe the past 12 summers. Poehlein, a past president of the Indiana Athletic Congress, became an honorary member of the South Korean Olympic coaching staff after speaking at symposiums in the Asian country during the summers of 1983 to 1986.
From 1993 through 1995, Poehlein served as president of the NCAA Cross Country Coaches Association. He also served on the board of directors in the inaugural year of the United States Track Coaches Association. The group was started by men?s and women?s cross country and track and field coaches affiliated with NCAA Divisions I, II and III, and serves as the national governing body for track and field in the United States.
Under Poehlein, the Purdue men?s cross country teams have earned academic All-America honors in six consecutive years (1996-2001), an honor that no other university can boast.
Poehlein is a Level III instructor for middle distances, working from the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif.
Prior to his arrival at Purdue, Poehlein coached boys? cross country and track and field at Royal Center (1961-66) and Highland (1967-73) high schools. His teams won four conference crowns and three sectional championships in cross country and 11 conference titles and five sectional championships in track and field.
Poehlein, a 1961 graduate of Oakland City College, earned a bachelor?s degree in business administration. He earned his master?s degree in physical education from Indiana State in 1967. He is one of 12 charter members of the Oakland City College Athletic Hall of Fame and was named Alumnus of the Year in 1986.
A native of Oakland City, Ind., Poehlein, 63, and his wife, Jill, have three children: Brian, Molly and Tony, a former javelin thrower for the Boilermakers.