Ross Richardson heads into his fifth season overseeing the Boilermakers' throws events, and has taken the program to new heights in his short tenure. The 2007 NCAA Mideast Region women's throws coach of the year, Richardson's athletes have set five school records and posted 21 new marks on Purdue's top-five all-time lists, six of which came in 2009. They've won eight Big Ten Championships, an NCAA Mideast Regional Championship and four All-America awards.
On the women's side, Richardson's athletes have broken all five school records under his direction, led by current standout Stacey Wannemacher and former Boilermaker Astin Steward. Wannemacher's resume is outstanding and only getting better, with a pair of school records, a All-America award, a Big Ten Championship and three NCAA Outdoor Championship appearances to her credit. She set the Boilermakers' indoor shot put mark in 2008, hurling it 15.81 meters (51-10.50), and has fractured the outdoor record five times, most recently setting the mark at 16.53 meters (54-02.75) en route to a fourth-place showing at the 2009 NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Wannemacher's qualified for the NCAA Mideast Regional Championships in the shot put, discus and hammer throw in both of the past two seasons, and was the only woman in the Big Ten Conference to accomplish the feat each year. She won her first Big Ten Championship in 2009, taking the conference crown in the hammer throw as she rolled to 19 team points, placing in all three throws. She ranks sixth all-time at Purdue in the discus with a top mark of 50.10 meters (164-04) and sits fifth all-time in the hammer throw at 58.10 meters (190-07).
Rising sophomore Terri Anderson displaced Wannemacher from the top-five list in the discus, earning an eighth-place finish at the 2009 NCAA Mideast Regional Championships with a mark of 50.52 meters (165-09). Anderson made her way on to the Boilermakers' all-time list in the outdoor shot put as well, taking the bronze at the 2009 Big Ten Championships with a toss of 15.58 meters (51-01.50).
A 2008 graduate, Steward owns a trio of Boilermaker records, topping the school's lists in the 20-pound weight throw, discus and hammer throw. A two-time All-American, she took third place at the 2008 NCAA Indoor Championships in the weight throw with a Boilermaker-record throw of 21.62 meters (70-11.25), and was ninth in the discus at the 2007 NCAA Outdoor Championships after hurling a school-record 53.90 meters (175-10) to win the 2007 Big Ten Championship. Her Purdue-record mark in the hammer throw came at the 2007 NCAA Mideast Regional Championship as she threw 61.79 meters (202-09) to capture third place and automatically qualify for nationals. Steward's teammate Sheena James left her mark in the Boilermaker record books as well, setting both the indoor and outdoor shot put marks before Wannemacher broke them. She ranks second all-time in both, marking 15.70 meters (51-06.25) indoors and 16.16 meters (53-00.25) outdoors.
Richardson's athletes have been nearly as dominant on the men's side, notching nine top-five marks in his five events. Rising junior Bill Hardcastle has a pair of those marks due to an incredible 2008 Big Ten Outdoor Championship meet, in which he earned at pair of conference titles en route to Big Ten Men's Field Athlete of the Year, Big Ten Men's Field Athlete of the Championships and Big Ten Men's Freshman of the Year. Hardcastle led a 1-2 finish for the Boilermakers in the shot put, marking 18.85 meters (61-10.25), and took the discus crown as well with a toss of 57.13 meters (187-05). Both throws are good for third all-time at Purdue and carried Hardcastle to an appearance at the 2008 NCAA Outdoor Championships. Hardcastle also placed in the shot put both indoors and outdoors and the discus outdoors in 2009.
Recently graduated Ben Harpenau stood out under Richardson as well, climbing the Boilermakers' all-time lists in the 35-pound weight throw indoors and the hammer throw outdoors. Harpenau had an outstanding senior campaign in 2009, winning a Big Ten Championship, taking third at the NCAA Mideast Regional Championship and qualifying for his second straight NCAA Outdoor Championship. He topped the conference in the hammer throw with his first of two straight personal records, marking 64.35 meters (211-01), and earned an automatic qualifier at the regional meet with a mark of 64.52 meters (211-08), good for fourth all-time at Purdue. His top mark in the weight throw came in 2009 as well, hurling it 20.32 meters (66-08.00), en route to a Big Ten silver medal.
Other recent standouts include Jon Pullum and Tyler Miller, who own several all-time marks. Pullum was named the 2007 Big Ten Outdoor Freshman of the Year and nearly fractured the men's weight throw record, earning fourth place and All-America honors at the 2008 NCAA Indoor Championships. He was also named the 2007 NCAA Great Lakes Region Field Athlete of the Year, the 2008 Big Ten Indoor Field Athlete of the Year and Big Ten Field Athlete of the Championship after winning the conference weight throw championship and taking home a trio of Big Ten Field Athlete of the Week honors throughout the season. Miller gave a stellar effort in his final season at Purdue, marking the fourth best throw in school history and securing runner-up honors in the shot put at the conference meet. He also qualified for his first career NCAA Outdoor Championships, where he tied for 14th overall, missing the finals by just six centimeters.
Richardson returned to the Midwest after spending one year as an assistant coach at Sacramento State University. Prior to his season with the Hornets, Richardson coached at Western Illinois from 2000 to 2004 and at Garden City (Kan.) Community College from 1997 to 2000.
Richardson's lone year in Sacramento was a successful one, as he guided David Nichols to an All-America title in the shot put and Geoff Fong to an 11th-place NCAA showing in the hammer. His throwers also broke seven school records, with six qualifying for the regional championships.
Richardson's tenure at Western Illinois was equally successful, where he coached Olympic Trials finalist Aubrey Martin, two All-Americans, three individual NCAA qualifiers and 12 regional qualifiers during his five seasons in Macomb. Richardson's throwers, who broke nine school records and five conference records, helped the school earn a pair of Mid-Continent Conference Championships and two runner-up showings.
WIU's conference titles were won under Richardson's direction as men's recruiting coordinator, and were the first in school history since the Fighting Leathernecks moved to Division I in the early 1980's.
At Garden City, Richardson coached throws as well as cross country and distance running. During three seasons, his athletes captured six junior college national championships and several All-America honors.
Richardson is a certified USATF Level II coach in the throws and jumps, as well as being a certified strength and conditioning specialist by the National Strength and Conditioning Association.
A native of Mount Carroll, Ill., Richardson graduated from Monmouth College in 1989 with a bachelor's degree in sociology. He earned All-America honors in track and field and football while competing for the Fighting Scots. In 1992, he completed his teaching certification at Western Illinois and began teaching and coaching in Avon, Ill. During the fall of 2003, Richardson was inducted into the Monmouth College Athletic Hall of Fame.