In a career that has led him from California to Maine, Bob Hepler has built strong athletic programs everywhere he has been. Since arriving at The University of Texas at Tyler in April of 2004, Hepler has led his cross country teams to nothing short of total domination in the American Southwest Conference.
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
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.