Bob Larsen, in his 21st year as head coach of the Bruin men's cross country program and who for the last 15 seasons led the UCLA men's track and field program to Pacific-10 and national prominence, will be retiring at the end of the 1999-2000 season. This will be his final season as the Bruin men's cross country head coach and he will serve as a Bruin men's assistant coach for the 2000 indoor and outdoor track season under new UCLA head coach Art Venegas.
Larsen has guided Bruin men's track and field to nine of the last 13 Pac-10 crowns, including a string of five consecutive titles from 1992-96 and the 1998 league crown. On the national level, he also directed UCLA to two consecutive (1987-88) NCAA outdoor championships. In 1999 track, the Bruins won two NCAA relay titles-indoor distance medley (9:33.17, American record) and outdoor 4x400m (3:02.12, No. 4 in school history), beat arch-rival USC for the 21st consecutive season and finished with a dual-meet mark of 6-1, ranked No. 6 in the nation.
In men's track and field, Larsen, who is in the Mt. SAC Relays Coaches and the California Community College Cross Country and Track Coaches Asso. Halls of Fame, is a three-time (1987-88, 1995) NCAA and nine-time (1987-89, 1992-96, 1998) Pac-10 Coach of the Year, with a remarkable 15-year dual meet record of 118-3-1.
Before Larsen came to UCLA in 1979, the Bruin men's cross country team had never qualified for the NCAA and had never finished better than third in the conference meet. During Larsen's 21 seasons, the Bruin men have finished third or higher in the Pac-10 on 11 occasions, including 1996, and have qualified for the NCAA six times.
The 1981 NCAA men's cross country National Coach of the Year and the 1981 and '80 Pac-10 Coach of the Year, Larsen's best cross country seasons featured Pac-10 championship performances and a pair of fifth place NCAA finishes in 1981 and '80. Larsen coached both the men's and women's teams in 1992 and '93. He has tutored the school's eight All-American cross country runners, including Mebrahtom Keflezighi, who during his career (1995-98) won four individual NCAA titles, including the 1997 NCAA cross country championship and set school records in the 5000m (13:30.22) and 10,000m (28:16.79).
Prior to UCLA, Larsen had a great career at Grossmont College in El Cajon, CA. In 12 seasons, he served 11 years as men's head cross country coach and six as men's head track and field coach. In cross country, he won 10 straight conference crowns, eight consecutive Southern California championships and seven straight state titles. In track and field at Grossmont with Larsen as an assistant and head coach, the Griffins won nine consecutive conference titles, and his distance runners set 11 national community college records.
While at Grossmont, Larsen cofounded and served as head coach of the Jamul Toads, a track club in the San Diego area that won the 1976 AAU National cross country title. He also coached four years at Monte Vista HS in Spring Valley, CA and led his men's cross country teams to four straight CIF titles.