After a tremendously successful run as associate coach, Robert Johnson was elevated to head coach of the Oregon track and field and cross country programs in the summer of 2012. He is in his ninth season overall with the Ducks.
His leadership was evident immediately upon taking the helm of the most storied programs in collegiate track and field when he set forth the framework that led to the Women of Oregon winning the 2012 cross country national championship for the first time in 25 years. The Ducks also captured Pac-12 and West Regional titles for the first time since 1987 as Johnson was honored at the national and conference coach of the year.
Oregon followed up that performance by winning the 2013 NCAA Indoor women’s national title for a fourth year in a row. He then oversaw Oregon’s men’s and women’s sweep of the Pac-12 Championships, before guiding both teams to trophy finishes at the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Johnson has helped lead the remarkable resurgence of a women’s program that has won four straight NCAA Indoor national titles and five consecutive Pac-12 championships. The Duck women have finished in the top three at the outdoor national championships for five years in a row. He has been just as instrumental to a men’s team that has won seven straight league titles and boasts an NCAA Indoor title and NCAA outdoor runner-up finish in 2009, as well as a fourth place outdoor finish in 2013.
He has coached Oregon student-athletes to the U.S. junior women’s record in the 100 meters (11.03), the Pac-12 record in the 100 meters (10.96) as well as NCAA titles at 100 meters and the indoor 60 meters. He has also mentored four national championship 4x400 meter relay teams. One of his first recruits, 400 meter record holder Keshia Baker, was a gold medalist in the 4x400 meter relay at the 2012 London Olympics for Team USA.
In 2013, English Gardner pulled off the impressive feat of winning both NCAA and U.S. titles in the 100 meters.
Johnson’s charges have broken all but one indoor and outdoor school women’s record in the sprints, relays and horizontal jumps. On the men’s side, Johnson watched Mike Berry break the school’s 41 year-old record in the 400 meters as a freshman in 2011 and Berry has since improved his time to 44.75. Johnson has won three national women’s indoor track and field coach of the year awards (2011-12-13), as well as 2012 women’s cross country honor and the national women’s assistant of the year (2010 indoors).
Recent saw the emergence of Gardner, Oregon’s first ever NCAA champion at both 100 and 60 meters. She was named the 2012 Pac-12 Track Athlete of the Year and the 2011 Freshman of the Year after setting U.S. Junior, Pac-10 meet and school records when she timed 11.03 in winning the 2011 league 100 meter title. A year later at the NCAA Championships, not only did she win the 100, but she led off the 4x400 meter relay team that won in a meet record 3:24.54, the second-fastest time in collegiate history. Her final season, 2013, saw her win the NCAA 100 meter title in a Pac-12 record 10.96.
At the 2011 NCAA Outdoor Championships, quarter-miler Mike Berry was one of the many highlights. He won the Pac-10 title in a then-school record 44.91 before going on to finish third at the NCAA Outdoor Championships and fifth at the USA Championships. He improved that to a runner-up finish at the 2012 NCAA meet.
During the 2010 season, women’s school records fell in the 200 and 400 meters, both relays and the long and triple jumps. Oregon scored a meet-record 215 points at the 2010 Pac-10 Championships, with victories at 100 and 200 meters by Amber Purvis, the long jump and the triple jump by Jamesha Youngblood and the 400 meters by Baker, her third straight win. The Ducks also captured the 4x100 meter relay. That led to a runner-up finish at the 2010 NCAA Championships, where Baker and Purvis led Oregon to its first-ever NCAA 4x400 meter relay title in a then-school record 3:28.54.
Indoors, 2010 was even better as the Ducks captured their first women’s NCAA Indoor Track & Field national title. Oregon punctuated its victory by winning the 4x400 meter relay for the first time in school history. The Ducks also counted a runner-up finish by Baker in the 400, a third-place finish from the distance medley relay team and a fourth-place showing from Purvis in the 200. Indoor UO record marks came at 60, 200 and 400 meters, in both relays and the long jump.
The 2009 team, led by Pac-10 champions and All-Americans Baker and Youngblood, broke 12 indoor and outdoor school records in the sprints, relays and vertical jumps and captured three Pac-10 individual titles along the way. Baker won her second consecutive Pac-10 title at 400 meters and finished fifth at the NCAA Championships. Youngblood became the first Duck to sweep the long jump and triple jump competition at the league championships, and set school records in both events. Both were also indoor All-Americans. The 2009 season also saw three of the women’s four relay marks also fell.
The men’s horizontal jumps have also taken a step forward under Johnson with Vernell Warren scoring in both the long jump and high jump at the Pac-10 Championships and qualifying for two consecutive NCAA Championships in recent seasons, while Brian Schaudt enteterd the top-10 in the triple jump in 2011.
In 2008, Johnson, himself a two-time All-American triple jumper, helped launch Youngblood’s career as she set the school’s indoor long jump record and recorded the second-best outdoor triple jump and No. 3 long jump in school history. Johnson also coached Baker to the 2008 Pac-10 400 meter title, becoming the first Duck to win that event since Camara Jones in 1995. During the 2007 winter season, Lauryn Jordan scored All-America honors in UO’s first ever NCAA indoor long jump appearance after raising the indoor school record three times during the season.
Before his work with Oregon, Johnson oversaw UCLA’s highly-regarded high jump, long jump and triple jump units, and also coordinated its strength and conditioning program. In that short span, his Bruin men and women combined for one NCAA title, one U.S. runner-up finish, two Pac-10 titles, and eight All-America honors. His star pupils included collegiate triple jump record holder Candice Baucham — the 2005 NCAA outdoor champion and U.S. runner-up, as well as 2004 Pac-10 champion and Olympic Trials triple jump qualifier Juaune Armon.
As an Appalachian State assistant coach from 1997-2003, Johnson coached 28 individual Southern Conference champions and 14 NCAA qualifiers in the long jump, triple jump, 55 meters and 100 meters. He mentored the school’s first All-America jumper—Ronda White—an outdoor triple jump All-American in 2003, along with two Southern Conference Freshmen of the Year and two Southern Conference Athletes of the Year.
As an athlete, Johnson also competed for Appalachian State, where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in 1996, and was a two-time triple jump All-American (1995, ’96), NCAA high jump qualifier (1996) and school high jump record holder (7-1 3/4). He competed in the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Trials.
He and his wife Jackie, a former UO volunteer assistant, reside in Eugene.
NCAA Women’s Coach of the Year
Pac-12 Women’s Coach of the Year
Pac-12 Men’s Coach of the Year
NCAA Women’s Assistant Coach of the Year
Robert Johnson Has Guided UO Athletes to:
7 NCAA Titles
25 Pac-12 Titles