Coach Judy Wilson joins the Daytona State College coaching staff as the school’s first men’s and women’s cross country coach. She received an Exercise Science degree from Indiana University, while competing in cross country and track and field. As team captain her senior year, the women’s cross country team ranked in the top 15 in the country, and the women’s track and field squad would win a Big Ten title. She attributes her transformation from a ‘walk-on who was last on the team’ to an Olympic Trials participant and national level runner to having great coaches and teammates, a strong work ethic, and low incidence of injury. “I was so fortunate to have stayed relatively healthy in college and was surrounded by amazing people,” Wilson says, pointing out that consistent training and having a good support system was crucial to her improvement.
After finishing her college eligibility, Wilson stayed in Bloomington to train with Nike Indiana, a Nike farm team directed by the legendary Olympic coach Sam Bell, one of her college coaches. A two time TAC (now USATF) national runner up in the 3k and 10k, she would go on to win road races, place 10th in the US Cross Country Trials, and set a new half marathon record at the 1989 Olympic Festival in Oklahoma City, OK. During this time, she joined the staff at Bloomington South High School, where she coached a squad to the school’s first ever cross country state meet appearance, earning her Regional Coach of the Year honors. In track, she would go on to coach an Indiana state champion in the 400 meters and qualifiers in the 800 meter, mile, 2 mile, and 4x800 meter relay.
1990 marked Wilson’s first collegiate coaching position. Assisting with the University of South Florida men’s and women’s program, the women’s team would go on to win the Sun Belt Conference, earning Wilson Sun Belt Conference Co-Coach of the Year honors. After a year in the Sunshine State, Wilson returned to her Indiana roots, and from 1992-1996, she spent four years rebuilding DePauw University’s (IN) men’s and women’s track and cross country programs while earning a master’s degree in Kinesiology. During this time, the track program would grow from 25 to 85 student-athletes, and the cross country squads would find themselves among the top three teams in the conference. The 1995 women’s track and field squad went on to win the ICAC conference meet and earned her Coach of the Year honors. She coached freshman Jake Carpenter in his quest to break the men’s 1500 meter school record, set 15 years prior. Jake did just that in his last meet of the season of his freshman year!
Wilson then left for the East Coast to join the University of Connecticut coaching staff as women’s distance coach from 1996-1998. She coached Danyelle Wood to her first national meet appearance and highest placing by a UConn runner in the NCAA cross country championships in 1996. Danyelle would go on to be in the top 20 rankings in the nation in the 5k and 10k. Alison Ciosek, in only one year under Wilson’s guidance, would follow Wood with a trip to the NCAA Outdoor nationals, placing 10th in the 10k in 1998.
In the fall of 1998, Wilson found herself back at her alma mater rebuilding a struggling women’s distance squad that had found itself at the bottom of the Big Ten in 1998. By 2002, the women’s cross country squad would produce a 14th place showing in 2002 NCAA championships. In track and field, the distance group would assist with winning three Big Ten titles in 2000 and 2001. Three runners would earn All American in cross country, two runners earned Big Ten steeplechase titles and also earned All American honors in the steeplechase. Others would qualify for the NCAA championships in the 800 meters, 1500 meters, 5000 meters, and 10k. “I was blessed with a great group of very conscientious, dedicated and hardworking student-athletes at Indiana. These women not only succeeded at their sport, but frequently had the highest team GPA among all 23 sports in the department. They were students first, runners second.”
Wilson has spent the last few years away from coaching developing her own fitness business, earning a Master’s in Business Administration from Stetson University, teaching at various community colleges, and acting as athletic director for a United Way funded non-profit organization. Still an avid runner and competitive age group triathlete, Wilson can be seen in and around DeLand running with friends in the early morning hours preparing for the next 5k, Boston Marathon, or Ironman triathlon. She and her husband Mark, an accomplished rowing coach, their son Hunter, and dog Chase live in DeLand.
Coaching Highlights and Accomplishments
Bloomington South High School: 1988-1990
First girls’ cross country team to qualify for the state meet
Coached Gwen Thayer to a state championship in the 400m
Coached state qualifiers in the 800m, mile, 2 mile and 4x800
Regional Coach of the Year honors
University of South Florida: 1990-1991
Sun Belt Conference Champions
Co-coach of the Year honors
DePauw University: 1992-1996
Coached 1995 team to ICAC conference championship
Coached school record 1500m runner freshman Jake Carpenter
Earned Coach of the Year honors
Grew program from 25-85 student-athletes
Highest team GPA among all sports
University of Connecticut: 1996-1998
Coached UConn’s highest place finisher ever in the NCAA Championships
NCAA Div 1 10th place in the 5k
NCAA Div 1 10th place finisher in the 10k
Indiana University: 1998-2007
Big Ten Steeplechase Champion
Big Ten 10k Champion
12 All Big Ten Cross Country Individuals
2 NCAA Div 1 Steeplechase All Americans
24 NCAA Div 1 Qualifiers
3 Cross Country All Americans
3 NCAA Cross Country Team Appearances
Big Ten All Academic Team
NCAA Div 1 All Academic Team – top 3
2 Post Graduate Scholarship Award Winners
1 NCAA Woman of the Year Honoree
Assisted with 3 Big Ten Track and Field Team Titles