|Men's Cross Country Coaches|
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In a career that has led him from California to Maine, Bob Hepler has built strong athletic programs everywhere he has been and has established UT Tyler as one of the most successful NCAA Division III cross country and track programs in the region. Since arriving in Tyler in April of 2004, Hepler has led his cross country and track & field teams to nothing short of total domination in the American Southwest Conference.
Hepler led the men's cross country team to 10 American Southwest Conference Championships, the men's track & field team to four straight ASC titles and the women's track & field program to two ASC Championships. Hepler has coached three All-Americans in Whitney Simmons, Alexis Baldwin and Kevonte Shaw - with Simmons and Shaw winning national championship under his guidance.
Hepler's run of dominance in ASC cross country continued in 2015 with the Patriots winning the championship on their home course and Matthew Markert winning the ASC individual championship. Hepler was named the ASC Coach of the Year for the seventh time, while Markert, Conner Benson, Steven Harvey, Justin Tokuz, Andrew Hernandez, Ryan McKelvey and Miles Zeolrlin were all-conference performers. Hepler and the Patriots advanced to their eighth NCAA meet in program history and finished 15th at the regional competition.
Hepler also works closely with the women's team and helped them win the 2015 ASC Championship and Brittany Brunson to win the individual title.
The 2014 season was another historic year for coach Hepler, who helped lead the UT Tyler men to their ninth ASC Championship overall, and sixth title in-a-row. The longtime coach also helped the women win their third ASC Champions overall, and second in-a-row. Benson took home the ASC Individual championship for the men, while Carly Kitts won her second-straight title on the women's side. In 2013, his ninth season as head coach, Hepler helped lead the Patriots to their eighth American Southwest Conference championship and fifth in-a-row. The men were led by All-Region runners Nick Huff, Matthew Markert and Conner Benson, as the Patriots qualified for the NCAA Regionals, finishing in fifth-place.
UT Tyler had seven men named All-ASC, including Huff, Benson, Jason Hamilton, Ford Noack, Derek Blain, Brady Adger and Cesar Rodriguez. The team was also named the ASC SAAC Sportsmanship Team of the Year.
Coach Hepler led the Patriots to a historic season in 2012, winning a third-straight ASC championship and the seventh in the program's history. Coach Hepler was named the ASC Coach of the Year for the seventh time in his tenure at UT Tyler, also coaching the ASC Individual Champion, Nick Huff. The team finished in eighth place at the NCAA Regionals.
2011 was another successful season under coach Hepler as the Patriots once again won the ASC championship, the programs sixth in history. Senior Ross Renfroe won the individual title while Coach Hepler was named ASC coach of the year for the sixth time. The team managed a seventh place finish at the NCAA regionals.
In 2010, Hepler coached the Patriot men to another ASC championship, and the women to a fourth place overall finish. Hepler was voted Coach of the Year for the fifth time. The Patriot men finished 13th out of 22 teams in the NCAA regional meet and one member of the men's team qualified for the national meet.
The 2009 season saw the UT Tyler women winning their first ASC championship and the men coming in as runners-up. Both teams qualified for the regional meet held in North Carolina where the men finished ninth out of 36 teams and the women placed 17th out of 40 teams.
In 2008, the Patriots captured their fourth consecutive ASC title and along with it Hepler earned his fourth ASC Coach of the Year honor. At the NCAA Regionals, the Patriots finished third for the second straight season, just missing qualification for Nationals. However, Ben Donnan and Warren Brown qualified as individuals for the National Meet.
The 2007 season saw Hepler lead the UT Tyler men's cross country team to its third straight ASC title and coached the women to a third place finish. The men's win marked the first-time in ASC Championship history that a team won with a perfect score.
The Patriots carried that momentum to the NCAA regionals in Virginia. The men finished in third place and missed going to the National meet by one point. Despite losing, RJ Cowan and Ben Donnan finished first and second to qualify as individuals for the National meet.
In the post-season awards, UT Tyler claimed 10 spots over both the men's and women's All-ASC lists and placed 13 student-athletes on the Academic All-Conference team. In addition, Hepler was once again named ASC Men's Coach of the Year.
The men's team also placed four runners on the All-S/SE region team and two on the USTFCCA All-Academic team. Cowan himself garnered several awards for UT Tyler including UTFCCCA S/SE Male Athlete of the Year, USTFCCA All-Academic, CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America, two ASC Distinguished Scholar-Athlete of the Year awards, ASC Scholar-Athlete, UT Tyler Male Athlete of the Year and UT Tyler Student-Athlete of the Year.
Track & Field
Hepler started the UT Tyler Track & Field programs in 2008 and has made the teams into perenial champions. The Patriot men's team won their fourth straight ASC Championship in the 2016 season, while the women finished second after winning it the previous two years. Simmons would highlight the season with a NCAA DIII National Championship in the hammer throw after winning the ASC hammer and discus championships.
The 2016 season also saw titles from Aaron Hurd (800m, Steeplechase); Miles Zeolrlin (1500m); Conner Benson (5000m, 10,000m) Tyler Campbell, Zach Richardson, Logan Houser, Jake Davidson (4x400 Relay); Keiundas Wade (Shot Put, Discus); Ali Yazdanshenas (Hammer); Matt Godwin (Javelin) on the men's side and from Rebekah Groth (800); Brittany Brunson (1500m, Steeplechase); Krista Painter (5000m, 10,000m); Whitney Simmons (Discus, Hammer) on the women's side. Simmons was also named the USTFCCCA West Region Athlete of the Year.
UT Tyler won their second-straight ASC Track and Field Championship behind coach Hepler, with three athletes, Buck Thompson, Whitney Simmons and Alexis Baldwin qualifying for the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
Simmons, in her first year throwing the Hammer, finished seventh nationally, garnering All-American honors while Thompson finished as National Runner-Up. The senior from Winona was named All-American for the fifth time in his stellar career.
The 2013 season was a historic season for the UT Tyler men's track and field team, winning the school's first-ever American Southwest Conference Track and Field Championship. Hepler helped coach two All-Americans in 2013, throwers Buck Thompson (shot put, discus) and Ed Palencia who placed sixth in the nation in the men's javelin.
Hepler coached the ASC Outstanding Track Athlete Nick Huff as well as the High Point Athlete of the Year, Thompson. Eight athletes were named All-ASC for their performances at the championship meet.
The UT Tyler women also had a successful 2013 season, finishing as runners-up at the 2013 ASC Championship meet, its highest finish ever. Hepler helped four athletes earn All-ASC honors including Kealey Gaffney, Chelsea Grigsby, Missy Hebert and Baylee Talaska.
In the spring of 2008, Hepler led the UT Tyler men's & women's track and field teams on their inaugural campaign. The men finished third and the women finished fifth in their first-ever ASC championships. RJ Cowan and Warren Brown both received All-ASC honors, while seven student-athletes earned ASC All-Academic honors.
In 2009, the men’s team placed five of the top seven spots in the conference, and won five meets. Nine of his runners were named to All-ASC teams. The women’s team finished third in the conference, and won at UT Dallas.
The 2010 Patriots also dominated, with the men winning five meets and placing five of the top six at the ASC Meet. The Patriots women won two meets and finished fourth in the ASC.
Hepler is not just a coach to his runners, but also a role model. In 2005, he was selected to the USA Triathlon’s All-America team, which is composed of the top athletes in the country. Hepler is a long-time triathlon athlete with many wins in his career. He is also a seven time participant in the Iron Man World Championships in Hawaii.
In 2003, he recovered from a freak injury that resulted in a completely detached hamstring, a problem so rare he wound up undergoing experimental surgery from the team doctor to the NFL’s New England Patriots. Hepler’s hamstring was reattached, but the surgeon told him he’d never be able to compete again.
A year later, he was once again competing, winning three triathlons and setting a new record at a competition in Jefferson.
Prior to coming to UT Tyler, Hepler served as the athletic director for the University of Maine at Machias. Hepler received his Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from UCLA, his Masters of Business Administration from Santa Clara University, and his Masters of Communications from Loyola University.