Ron Helmer is in his fourth season as the Indiana Director and Head Coach of Men's and Women's Track and Field and Cross Country after being named to the position on May 25, 2007.
Helmer's third year at Indiana proved to be record-setting. The Indiana women advanced to the NCAA Championships in cross country for the first time since 2004. With 13 indoor All-Americans, Helmer's squads produced more All-America certificates than any other indoor season in IU history. The IU men finished sixth overall at the NCAA Indoor Championships, marking the best performance by an IU team since Aarik Wilson won two NCAA crowns at the 2005 meet.
Not to be outdone, the Hoosier women posted a 16th-place finish at the NCAA outdoor meet, while the men took 20th. Indiana finished the year with 18 All-Americans, nine Big Ten champions and three Big Ten Athlete of the Year Awards.
The biggest highlight of the year for Indiana in 2010 was Derek Drouin. The sophomore won NCAA titles during the indoor and outdoor seasons in the high jump. He was named Big Ten Field Athlete of the Year for both seasons as well. The NCAA crowns are the fifth and sixth by a Helmer pupil. Drouin also added the Canadian National Championship to his credit on the season.
On the women's side, Molly Beckwith highlighted the season with a second-place finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the 800m. Beckwith followed her NCAA performance with a tour of Europe, where she finished an 800m race in 1:59.83. That performance merited a professional contract with Saucony.
Andy Bayer had a remarkable indoor campaign, breaking four minutes in the mile and eight minutes in the 3,000m, and then taking third at NCAAs in the 3,000m a day after posting an astonishing comeback for seventh place in the distance medley relay after dropping the baton. He was joined by Andrew Poore as an All-American in the 3,000m. Also earning All-America honors in the distance medley relay were De'Sean Turner, Kind Butler and Danny Stockberger. Turner added All-America honors to his resume in the steeplechase.
Juniors Faith Sherrill and Sarah Pease had breakout seasons in 2010. Sherrill was the Big Ten Field Athlete of the Year after smashing three IU records in the throws and earning three All-America certificates. She also took two Big Ten titles, indoors in the weight throw and outdoors in the shot put. Pease made a name for herself in the 3,000m steeplechase, taking fourth at both the NCAA Championships and the USA Championships. Ashley Rhoades earned All-America honors at the NCAA indoor meet in the high jump.
Indiana track and field showed itself as a program on the rise in 2009, registering eight All-Americans across all three seasons. During the cross country season, Helmer had two of his pupils earn All-
Big Ten honors, in Timothy McLeod and Wendi Robinson. Robinson later qualified for the NCAA Championships, where she earned All-America honors with a 28th-place finish.
During the indoor season, Helmer saw Big Ten title wins from Tiffany Howard (shot put) and Jeff Coover (pole vault). He also saw Molly Beckwith and Derek Drouin earn All-Big Ten honors. Coover was named Great Lakes Region Field Athlete of the Year and went on to earn All-America honors for a fourth-place finish in the pole vault. Drouin went on to finish as the NCAA runner-up in the high jump, and Vera Neuenswander and the team's distance medley relay foursome each claimed All-America honors. In total, nine Hoosiers made the trip to the NCAA Indoor Championships in College Station, Texas.
The outdoor slate saw the Hoosiers claim three more All-America certificates and three more Big Ten titles. Drouin (high jump), Kiwan Lawson (long jump) and Ashley Rhoades (high jump) all won Big Ten crowns, and three more IU athletes earned All-Big Ten honors. Drouin was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year and went on to claim Great Lakes Region Athlete of the Year. Twenty-three Hoosiers made the trip to the Mideast Regional and seven advanced to the NCAA Championships. Neuenswander and Drouin each won the regional. At the NCAA Championships in Fayetteville Ark., Tiffany Howard, Sarah Pease and Vera Neuenswander claimed All-America honors. Neuenswander finished second in the pole vault. Neuenswander went on to garner ESPN the Magazine Academic All-America honors.
In his first season at the helm of the Hoosiers, Helmer guided the men's and women's track and field teams to improvements during the indoor and outdoor seasons. The indoor portion of the year was highlighted by a Big Ten individual championship for Audrey Smoot in the 600-meter run and a Big Ten runner-up honor from Kyle Jenkins in the triple jump. The indoor season culminated in a trio of Hoosiers representing the women's team at the NCAA Indoor Championships in Robinson, Molly Beckwith and Stephanie Chin.
Helmer's first outdoor season at IU also proved successful as Indiana posted 10 medalists, including two Big Ten individual champions with Jenkins in the triple jump and Lawson in the long jump. The success from the Big Ten Championships led to the NCAA Mideast Region Championships as 23 Hoosiers made the trip to Fayetteville, resulting in seven student-athletes from Indiana competing in the NCAA Outdoor Championships. The Hoosiers produced two All-Americans in Lawson and Coover.
Helmer also helped two young cross country squads to new heights with fresh faces on the staff and on the roster. In just her first year of cross country, Pease took the leadership role for the women's squad finishing as the top Hoosier in every meet for IU. On the men's side, Helmer led Indiana to its first team appearance in the NCAA Championships since 2005 with a group that included three true freshmen. IU, led by junior McLeod, placed 28th overall as a team after a fourth place finish at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional.
Prior to coming to IU, Helmer served as the director and head coach at Georgetown University for eight years. He was promoted to director in July 1999 after serving as associate head coach with the Hoyas for seven seasons and assistant coach the five years prior. During his tenure, 120 of his student-athletes earned a total of 342 All-America recognitions, including 41 student-athletes receiving 96 certificates since becoming director in 1999. In addition, 219 student-athletes captured BIG EAST individual titles, including 67 after he became director.
At the NCAA Championships, he guided 27 athletes or relay teams to a top-three finish, highlighted by four national champions - Joline Staeheli (mile, 1996), Miesha Marzell (1500m, 1996) and two distance medley relay champions (1997, 1999). He also saw his teams earn 22 top-10 finishes in NCAA Championship action, including a streak of 15 straight at the cross country championships that ended in 2003. Among the top-10 finishes were seven top-four trophy finishes, including a third at the 1998 NCAA Indoor Championships and a fourth-place finish at the 2002 NCAA Cross Country Championships.
Helmer led Hoya teams to the Championship of America relay titles at the Penn Relays, the latest being the 2004 men's 4x800m squad with a time of 7:13.75, the seventh-fastest time in collegiate history. He was part of 37 BIG EAST Championship teams and his student-athletes were honored 11 times as the Robert A. Duffey Scholar-Athlete award winner, given to the student-athlete who best embodies academic and athletic excellence.
In January 2006, Helmer was the recipient of the Coaches Achievement Program award presented by Oppenheimer Funds, Inc. The Coaches Achievement Program honors coaches at select BIG EAST member institutions for excellence in coaching, mentoring and community service.
Helmer came to Georgetown from Woodbridge High School in Virginia, where he served as head coach for four years. Prior to that, he was the head coach at Virginia High School in Bristol, Va., for eight years.
He was named Virginia Cross Country Coach of the Year in 1980 and 1983, along with being selected as the Virginia Girls' Track Coach of the Year in 1981. Topping off the honors, Helmer was selected as the Boys' Cross Country Coach of the Decade in Virginia. During his career, Helmer's teams won 45 district, 35 regional and 10 state championships. Individually, he produced nine high school All-Americans and 13 Foot Locker National Cross Country qualifiers.
Helmer is a graduate of Southwestern College located in Winfield, Kan., where he received a bachelor of arts degree in math. In October 2004, he was inducted into the Southwestern College Athletic Hall of Fame. He continued his education at East Tennessee State University, where he earned his master's degree in physical education, with a focus in biomechanics and human kinetics.
Helmer's wife, Mary, is a seventh-grade teacher. They have three children, Tori, 32, a high school math teacher and track coach, Justin, 27, a high school business teacher and basketball and track coach, and Kari, 22, a senior at IU, and a three-year-old granddaughter - Rylee and a two-year-old grandson - Brody (pictured on previous page with Helmer and his wife, Mary).