Willy Wood boasts 26 highly successful years of head coach experience, two decades of which were spent at Columbia University.
Among his many accomplishments in his 20 years as Head Coach at Columbia, Wood led the Lions to eight Ivy League team titles and ten NCAA Cross Country Championship appearances, produced a pair of Olympians and coached 29 NCAA Division I All-Americans in addition to setting 68 school records.
Over his last 10 years, Wood led the Columbia Women’s Cross Country team to four Ivy League Championships and the 2012 Women’s Track and Field team claimed the Ivy League Indoor title.
The Men’s Cross Country squad won Ivy League championships in 2004, 2009 and again in 2013. His last cross country season went down as the best in Lions’ history with the men’s team finishing second at the NCAA Northeast Regional and earning a program-best national ranking of eighth while making a third consecutive appearance to the NCAA Cross Country Championship.
The Women’s Cross Country team boasted four top-20 national finishes under Wood, including an 11th-place showing in 2002, and made six NCAA Championship appearances in his 20 seasons; while the men’s team finished as high as 17th (2012) at the NCAA Championships.
During Wood’s time at Columbia, the Lions had a women’s runner at the NCAA Cross Country Championship six consecutive years (2000-05). On the track, Columbia produced 65 Ivy League individual titles in the last five years and boasted more than 70 NCAA Track & Field Championship qualifiers in his last eight seasons.
The 2012 Indoor NCAA I Region Coach of the Year, Wood coached the second individual (Kyle Merber) in Ivy League history to break four minutes in the indoor mile. Merber later went on to break the American Collegiate Record in the 1,500 meters.
At the 2007 Penn Relays, Columbia’s 4x800 meter relay team won the Championship of America Race for the first Penn Relays title by the Lions since 1938 and first victory for an Ivy League school at the Penn Relays since 1974.
Under Wood’s tutelage, five-time NCAA All-American Caroline Bierbaum received the 2005 Cross Country Honda Award, presented annually by the Collegiate Women Sports Awards to the top women athletes in NCAA-sanctioned sports.
He also coached a pair of Olympians with Lisa Stublic going on to become Croatia’s first female Olympic marathon runner. Erison Hurtalt was a two-time All-American and 11-time Ivy League champion at Columbia, where he was the first Ivy League champion in one event all four years (400 meters indoor & outdoor). Hurtalt ran for Dominica in the 400 meters at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and again in 2012 in London.
Wood served as a Coach for Dominica at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Wood also served as the Head Track and Field / Cross Country Coach at Bradley University. He guided the Braves’ Women’s Cross Country team to their only outright Missouri Valley Conference title and had them knocking on the door to a team berth in the NCAA Cross Country Championship after placing third at the NCAA Midwest Regional, their best regional finish in program history. The Braves’ men also enjoyed a program best 2014 Cross Country campaign, placing third at the MVC Championship. Wood was named the 2014 MVC Coach of the Year.
In addition, Wood served as the Director of Track and Field and Cross Country at Miami University (OH). Among his most notable accomplishments while in Oxford was signing the #1 ranked boy’s high school runner in the nation in both the 800m and 1600m.
Wood arrived at Columbia after two years as the Head Cross Country and Track & Field Coach at UNC-Asheville. The 1993 Big South Conference Coach of the Year, led the women’s and men’s cross country teams to second and third-place league finishes, respectively, for the best showing in school history
A 1986 graduate of Taylor University, Wood led the Bethel College (MN) track programs from 1990-92, where he guided the women’s track squad to a seventh-place finish at the NCAA Division III Indoor Championship and produced a pair of All-Americans in addition to eight NCAA Division III national qualifiers.
A native of Ohio, Wood boasts 25 years of head coaching experiences, serving as Head Coach of the Cross Country/ Track & Field teams at Kansas Wesleyan University for the 1989-90 season. He was named the ACCK Coach of the year while at KWU. He also had stops at the University of Georgia as an assistant coach and served as a graduate assistant coach at both the University of Kansas and Pittsburg State before his first head coaching opportunity.