WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – John Oliver was named Purdue’s distance assistant track & field and cross country coach, head coach Lonnie Greene announced Wednesday. Oliver joins the Boilermakers after spending five years at Stanford, including three consecutive top-3 finishes at the NCAA Cross Country Championships for the Cardinal men’s program, where he was the men's distance assistant coach.
“John comes highly recommended and comes from a very good pedigree and we’re very excited to have him,” Greene said. “He’s been at Syracuse, a program that has won a national championship on the men’s side. He comes from Stanford who has always been a top-tier program on the men’s and women’s sides. He comes from some very, very good mentors who have solidified themselves as the some of the best distance coaches in the country. He’s young, energetic and hardworking. He can recruit and he knows how to coach. That’s exactly what we need here at Purdue. We need to get him here and have him stay a long time because that will bring the distance squad up with the sprint squad and continue to build our program as a Big Ten and national power.”
Oliver helped lead the Stanford distance crew to achievements it hadn’t seen in at least a decade. His Cardinal men’s cross country team was the NCAA runner-up last fall as well as in 2014, with a third place finish in 2015. It was the first time Stanford had even back-to-back top-3 finishes in more than 10 years. He also led the program to two West Regional titles in cross country.
Purdue’s new distance assistant led seven different individuals to All-America honors in the last three seasons, including three top-10 finishers at the cross country national championships. On the track, Oliver coached the 2017 NCAA Outdoor 5,000-meter national champion, Grant Fisher, who, as just a sophomore, earned Stanford’s first individual national title in six years. A year earlier, Oliver directed Sean McGorty to a runner-up finish in the indoor 3,000-meter race as well as the outdoor 5,000-meter race.
Other achievements by Cardinal distance runners competing for Oliver include a Pac-12 Cross Country Freshman of the Year, the school record in the mile with a time of 3:53.95 – No. 2 in history among American collegians indoors on any size track, the No. 3 time on the all-time U.S. junior 5k list (13:30.13), five All-Americans at a single cross country NCAA meet, the 2014 DMR national title, a Pan-Am Cup and NACAC champion, as well as an NCAA West Regional champion.
“John is an excellent identifier of talent. But more than that, he also knows how to manage and develop talent," Greene said. "He has firsthand experience as to what it takes to develop a national-caliber distance program. John knows what it looks like to be at that level. He has seen what it takes to build a distance program where winning is expected.”
Oliver, a native of St. Louis, was a collegiate runner for North Central College in Naperville, Illinois. During his time there, his cross country and track teams won 11 of a possible 12 league titles.
Oliver will begin Friday, July 21.