Chris Solinsky Joins Florida As Assistant Cross Country And Track Coach
"Chris obviously made a name for himself as a runner, but what he's done as a young coach is impressive as well," Florida head coach Mike Holloway said in the program announcement. "He's a fiery competitor, and he's a winner. We think those two things will enable Chris to bring a lot of passion and a lot of intensity back to our distance group."
Solinsky joins the Gators weeks after the men secured the team title in an exciting showdown at the NCAA Outdoor Track Championships. The performance marked the program's second consecutive outdoor championship and fourth outdoor national title in the last six seasons.
On the distance side, Florida is aiming to return to prominence at the NCAA Cross Country Championships this fall. The last time the men's team qualified for the championship was in 2013, while the women qualified as a team in 2012. At the 2015 NCAA South Regional, the men's team finished third, and the women finished ninth. In 2016, the women finished sixth overall, and the men finished eighth.
"I'm incredibly grateful for the opportunity Coach Holloway's presented me with at the University of Florida," Solinsky said. "With everything the University of Florida has at its disposal and the atmosphere of the team right now, I'm excited to pitch in my part to make sure the distance runners are contributing just as much to that success and culture."
While at William & Mary, Solinsky brought the Tribe back to the national ranks with several standout performances. As the head men's cross country coach, Solinsky was named CAA Coach of the Year after guiding the Tribe to their 17th straight conference title. As an assistant track coach for the men and women, Solinsky coached his runners to sweeps in the 1500m, 5000m, 10K, and steeplechase at the CAA Championships. At the 2015 NCAA Southeast Regional, the men's cross country team finished 11th and the women secured a fourth-place finish. In 2016, the Tribe men finished eighth while the women finished ninth, and Regan Rome earned an individual spot to compete at NCAAs with a sixth-place finish.
As a professional runner, Solinsky solidified his place in history as the former American-record holder in the 10K. He broke the record at the now famous 2010 Payton Jordan Invitational by blasting a 26:59.60 winning time, which broke the previous American record by more than 14 seconds. He also became the first runner not born in Africa to break the elusive 27-minute barrier. Prior to breaking the record, Solinsky competed at the 2009 World Championships and finished 12th in the 5K final. He still ranks third all-time in U.S. history in the 5K and 10K.
As a collegiate athlete, Solinsky competed at Wisconsin and earned five NCAA titles. He contributed to the Badgers' 2005 NCAA cross country team victory and was also recently inducted into the Wisconsin Athletics Hall of Fame.
Solinsky replaces Paul Spangler, who coached at Florida for 5 1/2 years and recently accepted the cross country and distance coaching job at Boston University. Spangler's departure is one of the many notable coaching changes that have been announced prior to the start of the fall cross country season.