With 23 All-Americans, 316 all-conference performances and 66 individual conference title winning athletes to his credit as head coach, Kevin Robinson has transformed the Memphis track and field/cross country program into a perennial conference contender and national power since taking over the program in 2006. Robinson's consistent results continued as the Tigers roared into their first year of competition in the American Athletic Conference.
The 2014 outdoor track and field campaign produced at least three All-Americans (Pauls Pujats, Luke Vaughn and Carolina Carmichael) for the second year in a row. Likewise a combined 12 athletes qualified for the NCAA postseason, marking the fourth year in a row that at least 12 Tigers advanced.
The men's squad thrived during the 2014 outdoor season with 12 athletes earning American Athletic Conference All-Conference honors. The team placed second overall at the inaugural American Athletic Conference Outdoor Track and Field Champoinship with Pauls Pujats (pole vault), Luis Hanssler (decathlon), Georgio Lynwood (high jump), LaForrest Church (800m) and Yannik Schaly (shot put) winning individual conference titles. Pujats, Hanssler, Lynwood, Church, and Schaly's performances all established new conference outdoor meet records.
A young women's program saw vast improvement throughout the course of the outdoor season. At the inaugural American Athletic Conference Outdoor track and field championship, the team posted an eighth place finish with four athletes earning American Athletic Conference All-Conference honors. Carolina Carmichael also took the women's pole vault championship establishing a new conference indoor meet record.
During the 2014 indoor campaign, the men's squad had 11 athletes earn American Athletic Conference All-Conference honors. At American Indoor Track and Field Championship, the team placed fourth overall in the standings with Pauls Pujats (pole vault), Luis Hanssler (Heptathlon) and Georgio Lynwood (High Jump) all winning individual conference titles. Pujats, Hanssler and Lynwood's performances also established new conference indoor meet records. Pujats eventually took third in the pole vault at the 2014 NCAA Indoor Championship earning All-American first team honors.
On the women's side of indoor competition, the Lady Tigers continued to set program-records and get stronger as the season progressed. At the inaugural American Athletic Conference Indoor Track and Field Championship, four Lady Tigers earned podium finishes and American Athletic Conference All-Conference honors.
Just as impressive last season was the program's accomplishments in the classroom. Both the men's and women's squads received the 2014 United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) All-Academic Teams honors, with eight student-athletes (four women and four men) receiving USTFCCCA individual recognition.
The women's squad tallied a cumulative 3.58 grade-point average, marking the third-year in a row the Lady Tigers received USTFCCCA All-Academic Team status. The men's team recorded a cumulative 3.17 GPA. It was the third year in a row for both programs to receive the honor. The Lady Tigers also earned academic distinction from the conference earning the American Team Academic Award for indoor and outdoor track and field.
Robinson's cross country squads have seen similar success in the classroom, receiving 2014 USTFCCCA All-Academic Team honors for the third straight year. The women's and men's teams posted a 3.68 and a 3.14 GPA, respectively. Among the 217 Division I women's teams to receive the honor, the Lady Tigers were tied for sixth. The women's cross country squad also earned the conference's American Team Academic Award.
Robinson returned to his alma mater in 2002 as an assistant and was promoted to head coach in the summer of 2006. In his 12-year coaching association with the program, Robinson has had 25 student-athletes compete in 34 NCAA Championships. Robinson coached quite possibly the program's four top field competitors in Steffen Nerdal, Susan King, Gaute Myklebust and Gail Lee.
Nerdal capped his stellar collegiate career with his fourth All-America honor at the 2010 NCAA Outdoor Championships. Nerdal was the NCAA runner-up in the weight throw for a second-straight year (2009, 2010), marking the first time a Tiger student-athlete finished that high in consecutive NCAA Championships appearances.
Earlier that 2010 campaign, Robinson had 16 student-athletes win a total of 27 medals at the C-USA Indoor and Outdoor Championships. Richard Lowe led the Tigers' medal count with four, while Nerdal and Alex Sweet each garnered three.
The previous year (2009), Nerdal made Memphis track and field history, becoming the program's first male indoor All-American. Nerdal, who was the first male athlete to advance to the NCAA Indoors in 25 years, finished second in the weight throw.
In 2008, Robinson coached student-athletes on both the men's and women's teams to All-America distinction. Nerdal claimed his first All-America honor with a fourth-place finish in the hammer throw at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
On the women's side, King earned All-America accolades in the shot put at both the 2008 NCAA Indoor (fourth) and Outdoor (second) Championships. The second-place finish was the highest for a Lady Tiger at the NCAA Outdoors. Charlotte Abrahamsen also represented Memphis at the 2008 NCAA Indoor Championships, competing in the pentathlon. Abrahamsen earned All-America recognition and is the school's first and only multi-sport competitor at the NCAA Indoors.
Following the 2008 campaign, King and Lee represented the Blue and Gray in the shot put at the United States Olympic Trials. Both King (sixth) and Lee (ninth) placed in the top-10 and just missed earning a spot on the U.S. squad.
In only his first season at the helm (2006-07), Robinson guided the men's team to the program's first Conference USA Outdoor Championships crown. The Tigers upset national track and field powerhouse UTEP to win the C-USA title.
For his efforts, Robinson was named the 2007 Conference USA Coach of the Year. At the C-USA Outdoors, Robinson had four Tigers win at least one individual title and saw nine competitors qualify for NCAA Regionals. Three of Robinson's student-athletes advanced to the NCAA Outdoor Championships, with Nerdal making his first appearance as a freshman. At that year's NCAA Indoors, Lee earned her second All-America honor with a sixth-place performance in the shot put.
Before taking over the Memphis program, Robinson was producing All-Americans as a Tigers' assistant. In 2004, Robinson guided Myklebust, a two-time C-USA Male Outdoor Athlete of the Year, to the NCAA Outdoor Championships, where he received All-America honors with a fourth-place finish in the discus. Myklebust was the program's first All-American in more than 20 years.
The following year (2004-05), Robinson helped Lee to the 2005 NCAA Championships. Lee became the school's first female All-American in nearly 30 years with a 10th-place finish in the shot put.
A 1998 Memphis graduate, Robinson finished his collegiate track and field career as one of the program's most-decorated competitors, exhibiting prowess in the shot put, weight and hammer throws. As a freshman, he claimed the 1994 Great Midwest Conference (GMC) Indoor Championships shot put crown. The following season (1995-96), Memphis moved to Conference USA, and Robinson shined in his C-USA Indoor Championships debut. He was named the C-USA Indoor Athlete of the Year after winning the weight throw title and finishing second in the shot put. In his sophomore and senior campaigns, Robinson won C-USA indoor weight and hammer throws titles.
Overall, Robinson owns six combined Conference USA weight and hammer throws titles and a Great Midwest Conference shot put title. Robinson also is part of an elite C-USA group of only eight male athletes that have won three or more conference outdoor titles in the same event (hammer throw, 1996-98).
Robinson qualified for the 1997 and 1998 NCAA Outdoor Championships in seven combined events. In 1998, he finished 13th in the shot put at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. That same year, Robinson was named the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Strength and Conditioning Athlete of the Year and an NSCA All-American. In 2000, Robinson qualified for the Olympic Trials in the shot put and weightlifting.
When Robinson graduated in 1998, he held school records in the indoor and outdoor shot put, 35-pound weight throw and hammer throw. The only record he still holds today is the indoor shot put, a testament to both his coaching and athletic skill.
A native of Perryville, Mo., Robinson earned his degree in exercise and sport science from Memphis in 1998. After graduation, he began his coaching career as an assistant at Southern Illinois, where he worked from 1998-2002.
During his time in Carbondale, Ill., Robinson's student-athletes set three conference records and posted six school marks. Robinson also produced nine NCAA Regional qualifiers, two All-Americans and an Olympic Trials competitor.
In 2003, Robinson gained certification in CPR, AED and as an AFAA professional personal trainer. He has since become an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).
Robinson and his wife, Dawn, have three children: Sebastian, Tristan and Matthias. They reside in Hernando, Miss.