Robert Chapman is in his ninth season as head men's cross country coach at Indiana University. He also serves as the men's distance coach for the IU track and field team.
Last season, Chapman guided IU to its fourth straight NCAA Championships appearance and the fifth in six years. Stephen Haas, Sean Jefferson, Charlie Koeppen and Eric Redman all earned trips to the NCAA Championships, while Sean Jefferson picked up All-America honors for the third time in his cross country career. Additionally, Sean Jefferson, who took fifth at the Big Ten meet, earned first team All-Big Ten honors.
During the 2005-06 track and field season, Haas claimed the Big Ten title in the 5,000m, while he and John Jefferson advanced to the NCAA Championships in the 10,000m and 1,500m, respectively.
Two of Chapman's distance student-athletes were crowned Big Ten champions during the 2004-05 season. Sean Jefferson took the indoor mile title and Tom Burns won the 3,000m steeplechase for the outdoor season with a time of 8:45.67. More impressively, John and Sean Jefferson became just the 14th set (first American born) of brothers and the fourth set of twins in history to break a four-minute mile during the 2005 indoor campaign. In 2005, Chapman collected an honor of his own. Chapman earned the Mideast Region's Distance Coach of the Year.
Since he took over the program as head coach in 1998, Chapman has mentored a total of 16 All-Americans and sent an impressive 61 runners to the NCAA meet.
In 2004, Chapman led the Hoosiers to their fourth top-25 NCAA Championship appearance in five years when they tied for 18th overall. Chapman also mentored two-time All-American Sean Jefferson, who became just the fourth IU cross country student-athlete in school history to earn the accolade at least twice in his career when he placed 34th overall at the NCAA Championship.
Chapman guided the men's cross country team to a 12th-place finish at the 2003 NCAA Championships, and coached a pair of All-Americans in Sean Jefferson and Chris Powers. The 2003 team's finish became the best for an Indiana squad since the 1987 team took 10th. Sean Jefferson finished 19th overall, the best finish for a Hoosier since Bob Kennedy in 1992.
During his tenure at Indiana, Chapman also has had individual success in track, coaching five Big Ten Champions, an NCAA Champion (Sean Jefferson, indoor mile, 2004), a USA Track and Field Junior National Champion (Jeff Zeha, 3,000m steeplechase, 2,000), and a USATF Senior National Champion (Tom Chorny, 3,000m steeplechase, 2001). In nine years, student-athletes in his charge have earned a total of 16 NCAA All-American certificates. In addition, Chapman garnered awarded the 2004 Mideast Region Assistant Coach (distance) of the Year for his success in coaching the IU men's distance student-athletes.
Chapman has long been a familiar face in Bloomington. His development began in the fall of 1991 as a graduate assistant for IU's cross country and track teams, where he was mentored by Sam Bell. Chapman earned his master's in exercise physiology during this time, graduating in the spring of 1992.
He then left IU to be the head coach for men's and women's cross country at Sierra College in Rocklin, Calif. Having just turned 23 years old, Chapman held the honor of being the youngest collegiate head coach in the United States at the time.
At Sierra, Chapman's impact was felt immediately. Both the men's and women's cross country squads qualified for the 1992 California Cross Country Championship, the first time that feat had occurred at Sierra in nine years. Chapman returned to Indiana in the fall of 1993 as a volunteer assistant coach. Just as important, Chapman spent his next three years working toward a Ph.D in human performance and exercise physiology.
He earned his Ph.D in 1996, and took a position as a research fellow at the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine in Dallas. While conducting research centered on limitations to performance in elite athletes, Chapman served as project coordinator for USATF and the U.S. Olympic Committee's funded research on the "live high-train low" altitude training model.
In 1997, Chapman recruited 27 of America's best-emerging elite distance athletes to participate in the most extensive research to date on the effects of altitude training on distance runners.
The group was probably the most elite ever to gather for research on the limits of distance running performance since the 1970s. The results of the 1997 study helped to greatly impact the way top Americans and the world elite are training.
Chapman's research on exercise physiology and limitations to performance has been published in top medical journals, such as the Journal of Applied Physiology, Respiration Physiology and Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.
He has authored a chapter on altitude for the medical textbook Exercise and Sports Science, as well as a position paper on altitude training for USATF's Sports Science Committee. Considered one of America's foremost authorities on altitude training and applied exercise science for the elite distance runner, Chapman has made formal presentations at a wide range of scientific meetings and coaching seminars.
Chapman started his coaching career in 1990 with the girls cross country and track & field program at his high school alma mater, Boulder City High School (Nevada). In his two seasons, Boulder City was the class AA state champions in track in both 1990 and 1991.
A native of Boulder City, Nev., Chapman earned class valedictorian honors with a 4.00 GPA at Boulder City and became the Nevada state runner-up in the 1,600m run.
After running cross country and track for two seasons at the University of Nevada-Reno, he completed his bachelor's of science in secondary education-chemistry in 1991 from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.
Chapman, his wife Susan and their eight-year old son, Ben, reside in Bloomington.
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