Head Coach Robert Olesen enters his 16th year overall at Charlotte, 13th as head coach, and has been the driving force behind the development of well-balanced men's and women's track & field and cross country programs that are highly competitive at the conference level and advance student-athletes to the highest levels of competition in the nation.
Since joining the program in 1998, Olesen has helped the 49ers win 19 indoor & outdoor track and field league titles and a conference title in men’s cross country. Since his arrival, the vast majority of the school records in both the indoor and outdoor seasons have been established and nearly all of the top 10 performances have come since Olesen came to Charlotte.
From 2006 to indoor 2010, Charlotte swept all women’s conference titles, earning seven in a row. Olesen was named A-10 Coach of the Year 15 times, along with Southeast Region Men’s Indoor Coach of the Year three times (2008, 2009, 2010) and Southeast District Women’s Outdoor Coach of the Year once (2006).
Under Olesen, Charlotte has garnered 20 NCAA All-America honors from 11 different individuals, most recently Trey McRae in the high jump in 2014, in addition to 11 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans. Olesen guided Charlotte’s first male track & field All-American (Rephel Martin, 2000) and women’s indoor All-Americans (Shareese Woods and Cassie Ficken, 2005). Charlotte has had 11 Most Outstanding Rookies and 16 Most Outstanding Performers in track and field during its eight year Atlantic 10 tenure.
In addition, under his watch the 49ers track & field program has produced its first USA Junior National Team member for track and field (2001-Ian Dickinson), World Junior Cross Country National Team member (2005, Nick Sunseri-Canada), its first Olympian (Abe Morlu-Liberia, 2000) and a gold-medal winner for the U.S. in international competition (Shareese Woods, at the NACAC in 2006) among other accolades.
Olesen was named the A-10 men’s and women’s outdoor Coach of the Year during the 2012 season in which both teams captured the conference title. He was also tabbed with the same honor as the women’s indoor Coach of the Year for 2012. The 4x100 meter relay team (La Trese Barker, JoAnn Blakney, Briauna Jones, and Sirrell Butler) earned a trip to the NCAA finals that same season. Charlotte’s year was also highlighted by pole vault athlete Macy Ruble, who was awarded an NCAA Postgraduate scholarship and named the A-10 Scholar Athlete of the Year. Ruble ended his career at Charlotte posting a flawless 4.0 GPA, while double majoring in mathematics and physics. In 2013, Jake Deaton, participated in the NCAA T&F Championships in Eugene, Oregon placing 20th overall.
Olesen saw senior Darius Law, a 2011 NCAA Walter Byers Scholarship Finalist, earn a school-record three Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-America awards. Excelling in the classroom throughout college with a 4.0 GPA in management, Law was also named the 2010 Arthur Ashe Jr. Scholar-Athlete of the Year, one of two national winners and several finalists in recent years for Charlotte. He ended his collegiate career with a school-record 26 gold medals in Atlantic-10 Championship competition, including seven as a senior. Law competed at the 2011 NCAA Championships in the 400-meters and was the only athlete to qualify for the 2010 NCAA Championships in both the 200 and 400-meters, earning All-America honors in the indoor 400-meter dash.
In addition to Law, the track and field program produced another recent All-American in Amanda Goetschius, who earned the honor with her performance at the 2010 women’s indoor 5,000-meters. Along with All-America accolades, both Law and Goetschius earned berths into the outdoor national finals, as did Adu Dentamo. Goetschius wrapped up the 2010 season by running in the 10,000-meters at the USA Track and Field Championships, as did Sunita Braithwaite in the 100-meter hurdles.
Charlotte sent a school-record eight athletes to the 2009 NCAA Outdoor Championships with senior long jumper Pat Springs turning in her second All-America performance of her senior year. At the 2007 NCAA Championship, former 49er sprinter Shareese Woods came just two steps away from making the trip to Beijing for the 2008 Summer Games. Former Triple Jumper Sharonda Johnson was the first female All-American in a jumping event and recorded the feat twice during her career. As a field-event specialist, Olesen has had eight All-American performances in the jumps at Charlotte; in addition, the 49ers have had All-Americans in each of the major event categories, including sprints, field events and distance for each gender since Olesen began his tenure as head coach.
Olesen is a 1990 graduate of the University of Illinois, earning a Bachelor's Degree in Kinesiology with a coaching endorsement. He garnered All-America honors in the triple jump in 1989 and was the Big Ten triple jump champ and the team MVP in 1990. Olesen, who first joined the Illini as a walk-on, earned four letters and competed in both the triple and long jumps. Olesen got his coaching start as a Graduate Assistant at Southwest Texas State in 1990. He served as assistant coach there from 1992-95, and earned his Master's Degree in Physical Education from Southwest Texas State in 1995. While in Texas competing as a post-graduate, Olesen competed in the 1992 Olympic Trials in New Orleans. Olesen is a USA Track and Field level one certified coach as well as being level two certified in both the jumping and throwing events.
In addition to his success on the track, Olesen was a member of the 1998 United States Olympic Bobsled team, helping the U.S. finish seventh in the two-man bobsled at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan. En route to this accomplishment, his sled teams accumulated eleven world cup medals, including two bronze at the 1997 World Championship, an Olympic Trials championship and a number of U.S. Championships. His tenure with the team lasted from 1994-1998, during which he also earned the 1995-96 USOC Athlete of the Year Award in the sport of bobsled and was a member of the 1996-97 USOC two-man bobsled team of the year.
Olesen and his wife, Cindy, who was a four-time Big Ten high jump champion, have two children, Elizabeth and Thomas.
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