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 tenth 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 led the Ducks to five national championships in his first two years as head coach. The program won national Men’s and Women’s Program of the Year honors in 2014 in recognition of the teams’ top finishes during cross country, indoor, and outdoor track and field. The women also took the honor after the 2013 season.
Less than six months after becoming Oregon’s head coach, Johnson’s Women of Oregon set the foundation of success by winning the 2012 cross country national championship for the first time in 25 years. The Ducks followed that performance with their fourth straight women’s national indoor title in 2013. Johnson 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.
In his second year as head coach, Johnson guided the Men and Women of Oregon to a sweep of the NCAA Indoor National Championships. His women became just the second team in meet history to win five consecutive NCAA indoor crowns while the men claimed their first title since 2009. Both teams followed-up with their sixth straight sweep of the Pac-12 Championships. A month later at Hayward Field the men, fueled by four individual champions, claimed their first NCAA outdoor title since 1984 by setting a meet-record 88 points and the largest margin of victory in 20 years.
The Ducks have won 17 individual national titles in two years under Head Coach Robert Johnson. Leading the charge is four-time champion, and 2014 Bowerman Award finalist, Edward Cheserek. Cheserek, the cross country and indoor athlete of the year, electrified the country during his freshman campaign, becoming the first Oregon freshman to win the NCAA cross country title. Another freshman, Devon Allen, upset talented fields to win the 110 meter hurdles at the NCAA and U.S. Championships.
Johnson guided five others to NCAA individual titles during the 2014 season, including Phyllis Francis, who set the American Record in winning the 400 meters indoors before anchoring a national championship in the 4x400 meter relay. Bowerman Award winner Laura Roesler won two national titles at 800 meters and Jenna Prandini won the NCAA Championship in the long jump en route to scoring 24 points at the NCAA Outdoor Championship, the most by an athlete since 2001.
In 2013, Johnson guided Pac-12 record holder English Gardner to 100 meter titles at both the NCAA and U.S. Championships. Mac Fleet won the first of his two NCAA Championships in the 1,500 meters and Oregon-native Elijah Greer swept the indoor and outdoor 800 meter crowns.
Johnson has established himself as one of the top sprint, relays and horizontal jumps coaches in NCAA. He has coached Oregon student-athletes to the American women’s indoor record in the 400 meters (50.46), the U.S. junior women’s record in the 100 meters (11.03), the collegiate record in the indoor 4x400 meter relay (3:27.40), the Pac-12 record in the 100 meters (10.96), a US Championship in the 100 meters as well as 17 Oregon school records. In addition to mentoring five national championship 4x400 meter teams, his athletes have won NCAA titles at 60 meters, 100 meters, 400 meters, 800 meters and long jump.
As an assistant and associate head coach from 2005 to 2012, Johnson helped lead a remarkable resurgence of an Oregon women’s program that won three straight NCAA Indoor Titles (2010-2012), claimed four straight Pac-12 Championships (2009-2012), and placed second at the NCAA Outdoor Championships four times (2009-2012). The men’s program won an NCAA Indoor title and was the NCAA Outdoor runner-up in 2009 and won conference championships each year from 2007 to 2012.
Johnson’s charges broke all but one indoor and outdoor school women’s record in the sprints, relays and horizontal jumps. On the men’s side, Mike Berry broke the school’s 41 year-old record in the 400 meters as a freshman in 2011 before going on to win a gold medal at the World Championships as a member of the U.S. 4x400 meter relay squad.
In addition to 5-time NCAA Champion Gardner, Johnson coached Keshia Baker to three consecutive conference titles in the 400 meters (2008-2011), Jamesha Youngblood to a sweep of the long and triple jumps in 2009 and 2010, and Amber Purvis to a 100/200 meter double in 2010 – the first Duck ever to win both sprint titles. In all, Johnson coached 22 conference champions and 70 All-Americans at Oregon before becoming the head coach.
Before arriving to Oregon in 2005, Johnson oversaw UCLA’s highly-regarded high jump, long jump and triple jump units, and also coordinated its strength and conditioning program. In two years with the Bruins, his 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.
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 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). A member of the ASU Athletics Hall of Fame, he competed in the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Trials.
He and his wife Jackie, a former UO volunteer assistant, reside in Eugene.
NCAA Men’s Coach of the Year (2)
Pac-12 Women’s Coach of the Year (3)
Pac-12 Men’s Coach of the Year (2)
NCAA Women’s Assistant Coach of the Year (1)
18 Pac-12 Titles