Former Oregon distance All-American Eric Peterson, entering his 15th year on the staff of the UCLA cross country/track and field program, has established himself as one of the top collegiate cross country and distance coaches in the nation.
He begins his eighth season as head coach for the UCLA men's cross country team and specialty coach for the Bruin women and men's track distance corps. For the past 14 years (1993-05), Peterson has been the UCLA women's cross country head coach. Prior to that, in 1993, he served as an assistant to then-Bruin cross country head coach Bob Larsen, the 2004 U. S. Olympic men's distance coach.
Peterson has enjoyed a successful 14 seasons with the UCLA women's cross country and distance teams. For six (2004-03-02-01-99-98) of the last nine cross country campaigns, including four consecutive years, he directed the Bruin women to a team berth at the NCAA Cross Country Championships, UCLA's first appearances since 1988. This past season, the men's team returned to the NCAA Championships for the first time in 21 years under Peterson's guise, despite having no senior runners. The women also excelled behind senior leader Ashley Caldwell and breakout newcomer Allie Bohannon.
Bruin Women Distance Standouts under Peterson (Alphabetical)
Beth Bartholomew - in cross country in 1993, she was the Region VIII runner up and went on to earn All-American honors (16th). Also earned 1994 Outdoor All-American honors in the 5000m (7th place).
Ashley Caldwell - earned two All-American honors in cross country, one honor in indoor track (DMR) and two in outdoor track (800m/1500m). She won the Pac-10 800m crown in 2004 and was a leader on the track and in the classroom.
Karen Hecox Candaele - in cross country, Hecox Candaele was a two-time Pac-10 Champion (1993-94), Region Champion (1993) and a two-time All-American (1994, 9th/1993, 10th). In outdoor track, she won the 1994 NCAA 3000m title. In 1998, Hecox Candaele was a member of the USA World Cross Country bronze medal team in Morocco at 4000m. In the summer of 2000, Peterson coached her to the 1500m final at the U. S. Olympic Trials, where Hecox Candaele placed eighth.
Valerie Flores - Led the women's team to their highest team finish (7th) under Coach Peterson at the NCAA Championships where she earned All-American honors in 2003; also earned All-West Region and All-Pac-10 honors.
Katherina Kechris - in 1997 in outdoor track, she placed 12th at the NCAA in the 3000m and in 1998 cross country, Kechris was an All-Region VIII performer and earned Academic All-American honors.
Melissa McBain - as a senior in 2003-04, McBain earned three All-American honors in cross country (50th/20:53.6), indoor track (DMR, first leg/3rd/11:08.70) and outdoor track (1500m/10thQ/4:24.13/top eight Americans).
Lena Nilsson - one of the greatest distance runners in UCLA women's history, during her Bruin career (2001-04) Nilsson won two individual NCAA titles (2003 NCAA Indoor 800m/2002 NCAA Outdoor 1500m Champion), was a two-time (2003-02) Pac-10 Track & Field Athlete of the Year (the first women's athlete in league history to repeat as the conference 800m/1500m champion) and is the school record-holder in the 800m (2:02.26) and 1500m (4:07.69). She also earned All-American honors in cross country in 2002 (17th/20:10.0).
Ysanne Williams - during her Bruin career, she was a six-time All-American (including 2001 NCAA Outdoor in the 800m) and in 1999, Williams was the Pan Am and U.S. Junior 800m champion; most recently, after a four-year lay-off from competition, Williams finished second at the Jamaican National Championships and was seventh at the PanAm Games in the 800m while running PR's of 2:02.28 and 53.91 during the year.
2002 NCAA Indoor Distance Medley Relay Champions - 10:58.19 (Tiffany Burgess, 1200m/Monique Henderson, 400m/Jessica Marr, 800m/Lena Nilsson, 1600m). Burgess at one time held the school record in the 800m (2:03.73, 2002) and at the 2003 NCAA Indoor Championships, earned All-American status in the 800m.
Bruin Men Distance Standouts under Peterson
Ben Aragon - 2004 Pac-10 800m champion; Holds the indoor mile school record (4:00.38).
Erik Emilsson - 2005 NCAA Outdoor All-American in the steeplechase; Ranks No. 3 all-time at UCLA in the steeple (8:34.80/Junior Class Record); Individual qualifier for the NCAA Cross Country meet in 2003.
Bryan Green - twice qualified as an individual to the NCAA Cross Country Championships in 2000 and 2001. In outdoor track, his 10,000m time of 29:25.20 is No. 9 in UCLA history.
Jon Rankin - 2004 Cross Country All-American; Holds the mile (3:55.63) and 1500m (3:35.26) school records; Also ranks No. 4 all-time at UCLA in the 800m (1:47.11).
Peterson's Distance Running and Coaching Career
A former University of Oregon distance runner, Peterson was a member of the Ducks' 1989 Pac-10 Championship cross country team that placed second at the NCAA. In 1990 Peterson ran on Oregon's Pac-10 track & field championship team and placed second in the 1500m. He earned All-America honors in 1988 in the 1500m and was a two-time (1988, 1992) Olympic Trials qualifier. His personal best times include a 1:49.78 (800m) and 3:41.03 (1500m).
As a prepster at North Eugene (OR) High School, Peterson was the 1985 Oregon State high school 800m champion and earned prep All-America honors in the 1500m and the mile.
Before coming to Westwood, Peterson served one season (1992-93) as Oregon's graduate assistant strength and conditioning coach and two years (1990-92) as assistant track and field and cross country coach at Rancho Bernardo High School in San Diego.
Peterson has trained and coached with some of the top distance coaches in the world, including Mike Manley, a 1972 U.S. Olympian in the steeplechase; former Oregon head coach Bill Dellinger, a three-time Olympian in the 5000m; Luiz de' Olivera, who tutored Joaquim Cruz to the 1984 Olympic 800m title and Bob Larsen (the 2004 U.S. Men's Olympic Distance Coach), who led the Bruin men's track & field team to two NCAA Outdoor titles (1988-87) and nine Pac-10 Championships in 15 years (1985-99).