Michael Whittlesey is in his fourth season as assistant coach for cross country and middle distance/distance running at Kansas.
In his short time in Lawrence, Whittlesey has already made a huge impact with both the cross country and track programs. In his three seasons with the Jayhawks, he has guided two Jayhawks to appearances at the NCAA Cross Country Championships, Lauren Bonds, which was a first for a KU woman since the 1994 season, and Donny Wasinger, who was the first KU man to do so since 2007. Additionally, in 2010 the Kansas women's distance medley relay team composed of Bonds, Rebeka Stowe, Cori Christensen and Taylor Washington earned All-America status at the 2010 NCAA Indoor Championships.
Whittlesey has mentored six Jayhawks to All-America honors on the track and has seen three of his athletes break school records (Lauren Bonds - indoor mile, indoor 3,000m, outdoor 1,500m, outdoor 5,000m; Amanda Miller - indoor 5,000m and Rebeka Stowe - indoor 3,000m, 3,000m Steeplechase).
Whittlesey's most decorated Jayhawk, Stowe, was the 2012 Big 12 Champion in the 3,000-meter Steeplechase, and also broke the school record on numerous occasions. She also earned First Team All-America honors at the 2011 and 2012 NCAA Outdoor Championships with her top-12 finishes in the 3,000-meter Steeplechase. Stowe was also a two-time All-Big 12 honoree on the cross country course.
Whittlesey mentored Bonds to an outstanding 2010 senior season as she claimed the Big 12 Outdoor title in the 1,500 meters and went on to earn All-America honors by taking seventh at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. En route to earning All-America honors, Bonds set a new KU record in the event with her time of 4:14.29. Bonds also had a fine year off the track as she was named an Academic All-American and was a finalist for NCAA Woman of the Year.
The 2010 cross country season featured junior Donny Wasinger advancing as an individual to the national championship meet. Both Kansas cross country teams finished seventh at the 2010 Big 12 Cross Country Championships.
Whittlesey came to KU after serving 11 years as the assistant coach in charge of cross country and distance running for the track program at North Carolina. In addition to his coaching duties at UNC, Whittlesey worked as the assistant director for both men's and women's track and field and cross country for his last four seasons at UNC.
Under his direction, North Carolina middle distance/distance produced nine NCAA champions in six years, 70 All-Americans and 36 conference champions. Whittlesey led the track team to back-to-back NCAA titles in the distance medley relay at the 2006 and 2007 Indoor NCAA Championships. Along with the 2007 distance medley relay title, Whittlesey coached sophomore anchor Brie Felnagle to the individual NCAA title in the outdoor 1,500 meters. Under the guidance of Whittlesey, Felnagle captured three NCAA titles and was named an All-American 10 times in her career.
After assisting the Tar Heels to a fourth-place indoor finish and another top-10 outdoor finish and producing four NCAA individual and relay titles, Whittlesey was awarded the first-ever NCAA Division I Track and Field National Assistant Coach of the Year for women's middle distance/distance in 2003. Whittlesey also received the 2007 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field East Regional Assistant Coach of the Year honor.
Perhaps no other athlete thrived under Whittlesey more than Shalane Flanagan. Flanagan was the NCAA cross country champion in 2002 and 2003. Not only was Flanagan the first Carolina woman to ever take the cross country national championship, but she was only the third woman in NCAA history to successfully defend her title. A three-time recipient of the NCAA Cross Country Athlete of the Year award, Flanagan also excelled on the track. She won a pair of indoor national championships in 2003. Individually, she claimed the title in the 3,000 meters, and then teamed up with teammates Erin Donohue, Anissa Gainey and Alice Schmidt to take first-place honors in the distance medley relay. Flanagan also earned a spot on the 2004 U.S. Olympic 5,000 team before claiming a bronze medal in the 10,000 at the 2008 Olympic Games.
Whittlesey also coached standout runner Alice Schmidt, who was a two-time national champion in the outdoor 800 and the first North Carolina track and field athlete to win an NCAA title in the same event twice. Both Schmidt and Flanagan went on to earn places on the 2005 U.S. Track and Field World Championship team, while Erin Donohue earned All-America status in both cross country and track.
Whittlesey twice won both the ACC Cross Country Coach of the Year and Southeast Region Coach of the Year awards, earning each in 1999 and 2003.
A native of Morris, Conn., Whittlesey started his coaching career at UConn as a graduate assistant. While at UConn he assisted with distance and was a pole vault and multi-event coach. He then served two years at UNC-Charlotte where he worked as an assistant coach. While with the 49ers, Whittlesey led his athletes to 53 new school records in 18 different events and coached all-conference performers in the triple jump and javelin.
Whittlesey's competitive experience includes being the first American finisher in the 1995 Boston Marathon. He also qualified for the 1996 Olympic Trials in the marathon after competing as a non-recruited athlete at the University of Connecticut. He graduated from UConn in May 1990 with a bachelor's degree in sports medicine/athletic training and later earned a master's in biophysical science/exercise physiology in 1993. In 1997, Whittlesey received a doctorate of philosophy in sports science/exercise physiology from UConn.
Whittlesey and his wife, Carol, have two children: nine-year-old daughter Samantha and six-year-old son Ryan.