Alan Turner, the University of Notre Dame’s associate head track and field coach for two years (2012-14) and a member of the Irish staff for four seasons (2010-14), was named the head coach of track and field and cross country at the University on July 18, 2014.
Turner took over for Joe Piane, who retired in May 2014 just prior to the end of his 39th season as Irish track and field and cross country coach. Piane had been the longest-tenured head coach on the Notre Dame athletics staff.
Turner, who originally joined the Irish program in September 2010, enters his fourth season as Irish head coach. After serving as an assistant coach for two years, he was elevated to associate head track and field coach in October 2012 while continuing to oversee the training of all Irish sprinters and hurdlers.
“Alan has earned this assignment based on his contributions to our program over the past four seasons,” says Notre Dame vice president and athletics director Jack Swarbrick. “He has an outstanding reputation in the track and field community, the coaching honors he has received are based on the top-notch quality of his work — and his promotion has been widely applauded by our team members. We look forward to watching Alan and his staff continue to build the competitive level of our men’s and women’s programs.”
In his four seasons on the Irish staff prior to assuming the head coaching role, Turner made a quantifiable impact at Notre Dame and proved himself as one of the top assistant coaches in the country. He has tutored 53 Atlantic Coast Conference and 17 BIG EAST Conference champions, 214 All-ACC and 57 All-BIG EAST performers — along with 25 first-team, 13 second-team and 22 honorable mention All-Americans. His student-athletes have broken 20 school individual and relay track and field records.
In 2016, the women’s cross country team ran to an 11th place finish behind sophomore Anna Rohrer’s third place finish at nationals. Turner saw seven Irish individual ACC titles as well as seven first team All-America and seven second team All-America finishes.
In 2015, the women’s cross country team had a national champion in senior Molly Seidel and an eighth-place finish at nationals. Both Seidel and freshman Anna Rohrer led the team to new heights as they finished the year with having All-ACC, All-Region, and All-American honors during the cross country season. Turner’s two women’s distance studs continued their success in the indoor track season as Seidel and Rohrer went 1-2 in the ACC Indoor Championships 3,000m and 5,000m. Seidel went on to win the 3,000m and 5,000m at the NCAA Indoor Championships while Rohrer finished fourth in the 5,000m to earn All-American status. Senior Margaret Bamgbose and graduate student Kaila Barber claimed individual first-team All-America honors to tie for 25th place at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Notre Dame’s 4x400m relay team, which included Bamgbose and sophomores Parker English, Payton Miller and Jordan Shead, finished in sixth place with a time of 3:31.95. Turner has 10 All-American and 40 All-ACC performers, as well as five ACC Champions in the indoor and outdoor seasons.
In the 2014 season alone, Turner’s student-athletes earned those four ACC championships and 14 All-ACC accolades. Between the indoor and outdoor NCAA Championships, Turner coached his sprinters to 12 first-team All-America honors. Under Turner’s tutelage, junior Chris Giesting had a remarkable season for the Irish. Giesting earned All-America honors three times, was named the ACC Indoor Championships Most Valuable Performer after racking up 18 points and was also titled both the indoor and outdoor ACC Scholar-Athlete of the Year. For his efforts, the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association named Turner a regional assistant women’s coach of the year for 2014.
The fruits of Turner’s labor also were evident in 2013 as student-athletes under him won 10 BIG EAST championships (seven individual, three relay) and claimed 33 all-BIG EAST scrolls. In addition, the Irish earned four first-team and four second-team All-America citations during the indoor season, before claiming two second-team and 11 honorable mention All-America scrolls during the outdoor season. Highlighting that group was sophomore Jade Barber, the BIG EAST Indoor Track Athlete of the Meet and the USTFCCCA Great Lakes Region’s Women’s Track Athlete of the Year during both the indoor and outdoor seasons after winning two BIG EAST individual crowns and two relay titles. Barber was named a first-team All-American once (60mH/indoor), a second-team All-American twice (100mH/outdoor, 4x400m relay/indoor) and an honorable mention All-American once (4x400m relay/outdoor). Barber later competed for the United States at the World University Games, winning a silver medal on the 4x100m relay.
Patrick Feeney in 2013 won his third straight BIG EAST 400m indoor title and finished fourth at the NCAA meet to earn first-team All-America honors (in a school record 45.92). Giesting was also a first-team All-American, finishing eighth at the NCAA indoor meet in the 400m. Giesting for the second straight year won the outdoor 400m BIG EAST title and was named Co-BIG EAST Track Athlete of the Meet for the second straight year. Michelle Brown swept both the indoor and outdoor BIG EAST 400m titles and finished the year with five BIG EAST titles. For his efforts, Turner was named the 2013 USTFCCCA Great Lakes Region’s Men’s Assistant Coach of the Year during both the indoor and outdoor seasons and the Women’s Assistant Coach of the Year for the outdoor season.
2012 proved a brilliant season for Notre Dame sprinters and hurdlers, as three individuals won BIG EAST crowns — Nevada Sorenson (60mH), Feeney (400m/indoors) and Giesting (200m and 400m/outdoors), while the women’s 4x100m relay team also claimed the BIG EAST title. Turner’s student-athletes set seven Notre Dame school records — Indoors: Kaila Barber, 60mH at 8.27; Feeney, 400m at 46.55; Giesting, 500m at 1:01.28; women’s DMR with Natalie Geiger running the 400m leg, 11:04.45; men’s DMR with Giesting running the 400m leg, 9:35.48; Outdoors: Giesting, 400m in 46.03, men’s 4x400m relay in 3:06.20.
Giesting was named BIG EAST Men’s Outstanding Track Performer after winning the 200m and 400m titles as a freshman at the 2012 outdoor championship. He also ran the fastest 400m leg on the NCAA distance medley relay team that won the NCAA indoor title. Freshman Kaila Barber earned a bronze medal at the IAAF World Junior Track and Field Championships in the 400H.
In his first season in 2011, Turner coached Feeney, then a freshman, to a sweep of the BIG EAST 400m titles at the BIG EAST Indoor and Outdoor Championships. Feeney also was part of the All-America and Notre Dame record-setting distance medley relay that finished fourth at the NCAA Indoor Championships. Four of his student-athletes qualified for the NCAA East Regionals.
Prior to Notre Dame, Turner spent five seasons at Southern Illinois University. While at Southern Illinois, Turner served as the coach for the men’s and women’s sprint and hurdle squads as well as the relay teams. Regarded as one of the top sprint coaches in the Missouri Valley Conference during his five years in the league, Turner mentored 17 MVC champions during his tenure and 25 individuals who earned runner-up finishes. Saluki student-athletes earned all-MVC honors on 65 occasions. He also coached 25 NCAA regional qualifiers and one NCAA national qualifier. He helped the Southern Illinois women wins MVC outdoor crowns in 2009 and 2010.
Prior to his arrival at Southern Illinois, Turner spent two years (2004-05) at Proviso East High School (Maywood, Ill.) as an assistant coach in the sprints and horizontal jumps. While at Proviso East he coached one junior national champion, three junior national qualifiers, two Illinois High School Association state champions, three all-state honorees and six sectional champions. Three of his athletes from the 2004 squad earned Division I track scholarships. Before taking the job Proviso East, Turner assisted triple jumper Kamau Sullivan in qualifying for the USATF Nationals in 1993 and 1994, as a member of the Nike Indiana Track Club.
An accomplished student-athlete in his own right, Turner knows a few things about performing for a high-caliber program. A 1992 graduate of Indiana University, Turner was a three-time All-American for the Hoosiers. He won five Big Ten titles (two long jump, two 400 meters and one 4×400 relay) and was a three-time team captain while leading Indiana to five consecutive Big Ten Conference team crowns. In 1991, he captured the NCAA indoor long jump title and was runner-up at the NCAA outdoor championships that same year. He also qualified for the NCAA Championships in the 400 meters and 4×100 relay. More than 20 years since accomplishing that feat, Turner still holds the Indiana record in the outdoor long jump. Outside of collegiate competition, Turner finished in the top eight in the long jump at the USA Outdoor Championships four times. He was a member of five U.S. National teams and won the gold medal at the 1991 World University Games in the long jump.