Paul Spangler, a former Alabama cross country NCAA qualifier and All-Southeastern Conference selection, has returned to the SEC and will join the Gator coaching staff as an assistant coach for distance and cross country, University of Florida track and field head coach Mike Holloway announced.
Spangler, a 10-year assistant track and head cross country coach at The Virginia Military Institute, will oversee the development and performance of UF’s distance student-athletes throughout the track and field indoor and outdoor seasons, while coaching the Gator men’s and women’s cross country squads through the fall season.
Spangler, the 2009 Big South Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year, tutored 70 All-Big South performers on the track throughout his tenure at VMI. A total of 15 Keydet student-athletes were Big South Champions, while Donnie Cowart (2009), Hannah Granger (2009) and Felix Kitur (2011) were additionally crowned Big South Athletes of the Year under Spangler’s tutelage.
Not only a SEC and Alabama alum, Spangler is no stranger to the Sunshine State having spent several years at Florida State University, prior to his stint at VMI, where he received a master’s degree in Sports Administration while coaching the FSU cross country and track teams. During his time at Florida State, he helped develop 13 NCAA All-South Region performers, had three NCAA individual cross country qualifiers, ten All-ACC track and field athletes and two athletes qualify for the World Junior Track and Field Championships. Spangler also coached a pair of distance All-Americans.
Most recently at VMI, Spangler produced two team conference runner-up squads, including the 2009 women's team, a performance that marked that squad's best finish ever. The men's team saw its first two regional rankings under Spangler’s leadership (2005, 2009), while the Keydet women won three straight Big South Freshman of the Year honors, a run continued by Emily Dinning in 2011.
On the track, Spangler helped lead four distance athletes to the NCAA Championships, as Cowart accomplished the feat in 2009, earning All-America honors in the steeplechase, while Kitur did so three times, the most recent in 2011. Cowart went on to qualify for two USATF Championships, and competed in the Pan American Games, finishing a staggering fourth place. This past track season, Kitur again advanced to NCAAs, while freshman Cabell Willis qualified for the USATF Junior National Championships.
Perhaps most notably, was the job Spangler's pupils did at the IC4A Indoor Championships, particularly in the 4X800-meter relay. There, the squad of Jacob Lysher, Dean Gonsalves, Kitur and Dmitriev combined for a 7:24.70, to not only win the IC4A title, but claim the top time in the world during the indoor season. Spangler was a part of five runner-up efforts at the Big South Conference Championships, with four coming indoor and one (2009) occurring outdoors.
Throughout his tenure in Lexington, Va., the track and cross country teams shattered 21 distance records combined, while Spangler’s athletes earned five Big South Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year awards. He coached four NCAA Regional qualifiers, the women's cross country program's first conference runner and Freshman of the Year selection (both in 2009) and even a Rhodes Scholarship recipient. The women's cross country team was additionally honored with USTFCCCA All-Academic honors in 2010 and 2011.
Spangler is a 1998 graduate of the University of Alabama with a BS in Education. He was a 1996 and 1997 NCAA qualifier in cross country and was an All-SEC selection his senior year at Alabama. He later earned his master’s degree from FSU in Sports Administration, while working with the Seminole squads.
Spangler and his wife Cynthia were married in 2002 and are parents to a son, Preston.
2000 Atlantic Coast Conference Outdoor Track and Field Women’s Team Champions
2002 Atlantic Coast Conference Outdoor Track and Field Men’s Team Champions
2001 NCAA Women’s Cross Country national qualifying team
5 USA Junior National Track and Field distance qualifiers
2 World Junior Track and Field distance qualifiers
13 NCAA All-Region Cross Country performers
3 All-Atlantic Coast Conference Cross Country performers
1 Atlantic Coast Conference Cross Country Female Freshmen of the Year
3 NCAA Individual Cross Country qualifiers
3 Time All-Academic Team with distinction (Men’s 2001, #2 NCAA Ranked)
Established 4 new school distance and mid-distance records
2 NCAA Track and Field distance All-Americans
The Virginia Military Institute:
2009 Big South Conference Coach of the Year (Women’s Cross Country)
4 NCAA Regional Track & Field Distance Qualifiers
4 NCAA National Championship Qualifiers
1 NCAA All-American. Donnie Cowart 8:44.66 Steeplechase
1 NCAA All-American Honorable Mention. Felix Kitur 1:48 800m
#1 U.S. and World ranked men’s 2011 indoor 4x800m relay. 7:24.70
VMI’s first NCAA regional ranking (Men’s Cross Country-Top 15)
2 Runner-up team finishes at Big South Cross Country Championships (Men 2005, Women 2009)
4 Runner-up team finishes at the Big South Track & Field Indoor Championships (Men 2004, 2005, 2009, 2011)
1 Runner-up team finish at the Big South Outdoor Championships (2009)
4 All-IC4A Relay Teams (07-3rd & 08-2nd Distance Medley Relay, 08 & 11 4x800m champions)
20 All-IC4A Performers (Top 3)
21 distance school records
70 All-Big South Cross Country/ Track and Field-distance performers
64 IC4A/ECAC Championship distance/mid-distance qualifiers
15 Big South Conference Individual champions (Cross Country & Track-Distance)
2 USA Track & Field National Championship qualifiers
2 USA Junior National Championship qualifiers
3 Big South Athletes of the Year (Donnie Cowart-2009, Hannah Granger-2009, Felix Kitur-2011)
3 Big South Cross Country Freshmen of the Year (Jenna Moye-2009, Tammy Cheung-2010, Emily Dinning-2011)
2 NCAA Division I All-Academic Team (2009 & 2010 Women’s Cross Country)
Director for the following events:
Florida Intercollegiate Cross Country Championships (99-01)
Seminole High School Cross Country Invitational (99-01)
FACA High School Senior All-Star Cross Country Championships (01)
2005 Big South Cross Country Championships (05)
VMI High School Indoor Track & Field Invitational (05-08)
Military Track and Field Championships (07,10)
USA Track and Field Official Clinic-Virginia Chapter (07-08)
2005 & 2011 Big South Outdoor Track and Field Championships
VMI Classic High School Outdoor Track and Field Invitational (03-11)
Coordination of fund raising effort for both charity and team revenue purposes which include the Across the State Relay in Florida and the Blue Ridge Relay in Virginia.
Member of three-coach panel who votes for Big South Athlete of the Week
University of Alabama Athletic Accomplishments:
All-SEC Individual Cross Country Selection (14th place-97)
All-NCAA South Region Cross Country Selection (6th place-97)
Competed in two NCAA Cross Country Championships (96 & 97)