EUGENE, Ore. -- Harry Marra, who coached Team USA’s national decathlon squad from 1990-2000, has been named assistant track and field coach, Oregon Associate Athletic Director Vin Lananna announced Wednesday. He will work primarily with the Ducks’ combined athletes, including NCAA champions Ashton Eaton and Brianne Theisen, as well as the pole vaulters and high jumpers.
Marra, who coached Paul Terek to a 10th-place finish in the decathlon at the 2007 IAAF World Championships in Osaka, Japan, has more than 30 years experience coaching athletes at every level from high school to professional.
"Harry Marra has been a leader within the combined event community and has guided athletes to success in the biggest meets in our sport for over 30 years," said Lananna. "His passion, technical expertise, extensive experience coaching athletes to success at the Olympics and World Championships, unparalleled work ethic and enthusiasm, and his understanding of the special place that Oregon track and field occupies in the sporting world are valuable assets that he brings to our program.
"Our national search for Dan Steele’s replacement was comprehensive and involved extensive conversations with many experts in the sport, including head coaches, Olympians, and leading technicians," said Lananna. "Those conversations reinforced my realization that, as one of those experts, Harry Marra will be an excellent addition to our program and help guide our teams to success."
Marra was Team USA’s national decathlon coach from 1990-2000 and helped five different decathletes score 8,000 points.
Among those competitors is Terek, a three-time national U.S. indoor champion and 2004 Olympian who ranks as the 14th-best decathlete in American history with 8,312 points. Other Marra-coached decathletes who have eclipsed the 8,000-point mark are Bart Goodell (8,109), Paul Foxon (8,254), Brian Brophy (8,276) and Chris Wilcox (8,026).
"I’m thrilled to join a program with the stature and tradition of the University of Oregon and to have the opportunity to work with the outstanding student-athletes in the Duck program," said Marra, whose first day on the job was Wednesday. "Being able to coach at Hayward Field and in this community is truly something special.
"Oregon has a long-standing tradition in the combined events, as well as the pole vault and high jump, and I’m looking forward to continuing that tradition," said Marra, who has been coaching Terek and a group of elite athletes privately for the last decade.
Marra was the head track and field coach at San Francisco State for 12 years (1981-93) where he was twice named Northern California Athletic Conference coach of the year (1985, ’90) and is also a member of that school’s hall of fame. He coached one NCAA champion and 24 All-Americans while at SFSU. During that time, Marra was also a speed and fitness consultant for the San Francisco Giants. He previously served as head coach at Springfield College in Massachusetts for four years and as an assistant coach at UC Santa Barbara for two years before that.
He was a member of the United States’ coaching staff at the IAAF World Championships in Paris (2003), Helsinki (2005) and Osaka (2007) and was an assistant coach for the 1999 Pan American Games, where U.S athletes won five gold medals, four silvers and a bronze and set a pair of meet records. He was also a coach for the 1981 and ’82 U.S. Olympic Festivals.
Marra resides with his wife Madeline in Atascadero, Calif.
Born in Cohoes, N.Y., Marra graduated from Mount St. Mary’s and holds a Master’s Degree from Syracuse.
Lananna also announced on Wednesday that assistant coach Robert Johnson will now oversee the men’s and women’s sprinters, hurdlers and horizontal jumpers, while volunteer assistant Jenni Ashcroft will expand her role to aide with the combined athletes and high jumpers, in addition to the pole vaulters.
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