Larsen Quick Facts:
- Four-time NCAA Coach of the Year
- Nine-time Pac-10 Coach of the Year
- In Mt. SAC Relays and CA CC Cross Country and Track Coaches Hall of Fame
- Two NCAA Outdoor Titles
- Four National Dual Meet Championships
Bob Larsen, four-time National Coach of the Year (track and field - 1987-88-95; cross-country - 1980) on July 30, 1999 announced his retirement as the UCLA men's track and field and cross country head coach. He directed the Bruin men's track and field program for 15 seasons and the cross country team for 21 years. Larsen in 2000 will be a men's assistant coach and retire at the end of the season. Art Venegas is the new Bruin men's head coach and Eric Peterson, who has been women's head cross country for the last six years, in 2000-2001 will take on additional duties as the men's head cross country coach and also direct the men's distance corps in track.
During his Bruin tenure, Larsen has maintained UCLA's track and field program at a national championship level, dominating the Pacific-10 Conference and elevating cross-country to prominence.
He led the Bruins to two NCAA outdoor championships (1987 and `88); nine Top 10 national outdoor finishes, including a second-place in 1995, third-place in '96, fourth-place in 1997 and sixth-place in 1998, along with nine Pacific-10 titles in the last 13 years, including six of the last eight league crowns. He has been the Pac-10 Track and Field Coach of the Year on nine occasions, including (1987-89, 1992-96, '98).
In 15 seasons, Larsen has guided the Bruins to the national dual meet crown four times, including the 1996 No. 1 ranking, and to seven second-place finishes, including runner-up titles from 1993-95 and 1998, and a third-place showing in 1992.
Under Larsen, the Bruins had a remarkable dual meet record of 118-3-1; 12 unbeaten seasons, including five of the last six years (the Bruins were 10-0 in 1998, '97 and '96, 8-0 in 1995 and 9-0 in 1994), with home dual winning streaks of 31 (1971-76), 32 (1979-83), 39 (1984-89) and 51 (1991-99). During his 15 years as head coach, Larsen never lost to archrival USC in dual competition, including last season's 82-81 Bruin victory at USC.
In 1997, Larsen was inducted into the Mt. SAC Relays Coaches Hall of Fame. In '96, he was enshrined into the California Community College Cross Country and Track Coaches Association Hall of Fame and was named the Dist. VIII Men's Coach of the Year by the U. S. Track Coaches Association, an honor he also earned in 1998. In 1995, Larsen was named the USTCA National Men's Coach of the Year.
Larsen's star pupil of the 1990s has been Mebrahtom Keflezighi, the greatest distance runner in UCLA's men's track history. Keflezighi as a junior in `97 won four NCAA titles -- cross country, indoor 5000m, and outdoor 5000/10,000m (becoming the eighth athlete in NCAA history to win this double) -- and became the third athlete in NCAA history to win the outdoor double and the cross country title in the same season (1997). In addition, he holds the school records in the 5000m (13:26.85) and 10,000m (28:16.79). In 1998, Meb was honored with the first-ever Carl Lewis Award, given to the nation's top male collegiate track and field athlete.
Other athletes coached by Larsen at UCLA include Steve Ortiz, who held four UCLA distance records (2 Mi - 8:24; 5000m - 13:35.0; 10,000m - 8:21.70; and marathon - 2:13.21) until Keflezighi broke the 5000m and 10,000m records; Ron Cornell (3:57 mile); Dave Daniels (8:29 steeple); Mark Junkermann (8:31 steeple); Del Davis (7-7G high jump to tie the American record in 1982); Anthony Curran (18-2H pole vault) and Dokie Williams (55-2 triple jump).
Twenty years ago, Larsen took over a Bruin men's cross country program that had never won a Pacific-10 title. In his initial season (1979), he coached the first UCLA cross country team to ever qualify to the NCAA championship.
Since then, the NCAA (1980) and two-time Pac-10 (1980-81) Men's Cross Country Coach of the Year has led the Bruins to two conference crowns (1980-81) and six NCAA appearances, highlighted by national fifth-place finishes in 1980 and '81.
The fall of 1992 marked the first of two consecutive seasons that Larsen directed both the UCLA men's and women's cross country programs.
In 1993, Karen Hecox became the first Bruin woman to win both the Pac-10 and NCAA Dist. 8 meets and placed 10th at the NCAA championship. Those accomplishments earned her 1993 Pac-10 Female Cross Country Athlete of the Year. Larsen was assisted that season by Peterson, who will take over the men's head cross country position next fall.
Larsen succeeded long-time Bruin head coach Jim Bush after the 1984 season. Larsen was Bush's No. 1 assistant from 1979-84. Prior to UCLA, Larsen had an outstanding career at Grossmont Community College in El Cajon, CA. His cross country teams won the state title an unprecedented seven consecutive times to close out his tenure at Grossmont.
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.
Larsen developed, among others, Kirk Pfeffer, junior world marathon record holder at 2:17.44 who went on to run a 2:10 marathon, and Ed Mendoza, a 1976 U.S. Olympian at 10,000m and also a 2:10 marathoner.
Also while at Grossmont, Larsen co-founded and served as head coach of the JamulToads, a track club in the San Diego area that in 1976 won the AAU National cross country title.
He coached four years at Monte Vista HS in Spring Valley, CA, where he led his cross country teams to four straight CIF titles. During Larsen's last three years at the school, his team remained undefeated.
Larsen is married to the former Susan Nebel-Thau, and they live in Brentwood with their two children, Michel and Erik, both students at UCLA.
Larsen's UCLA Record
Men's Track and Field
Men's Cross Country