After 16 years as head track and field coach at the University of Washington, Orin Richburg was elected by his peers to a more prestigious post this past summer — head coach of the United States at the 2001 World Track and Field Championships in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
As head coach, Richburg was responsible for setting relay teams, coordinating athlete activities at the meet, and directing the U.S. to its best possible finish. Richburg, a former collegiate sprinter himself, piloted the Americans to a meet-high 19 medals, including nine golds. His election as head coach reflected the high esteem in which he is held by USA Track and Field and his coaching peers around the country.
This season, Richburg and cross-country coach Greg Metcalf helped the Huskies to a pair of top-five finishes at the Pac-10 Cross-Country Championships. Washington’s women’s squad advanced to the NCAAs for the fifth-consecutive season, placing 14th overall. On the track in 2001, Richburg guided seven different Huskies to the NCAA Championships, including top-10 finishes by sprinter Ja’Warren Hooker and distance specialist David Bazzi that netted the Huskies a 33rd-place finish.
The UW women placed 23rd at the 200 NCAA cross-country championships, and were 13th at the 1999 NCAA meet. On the track oval, the Huskies collected four individual Pac-10 titles, and Ja’Warren Hooker was honored as the Men’s Pac-10 Athlete of the Year after sweeping titles in the 100- and 200-meter events, and was selected to the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games as an alternate on the 4x400-meter relay squad.
Washington was represented by 12 athletes at the 2000 NCAA track meet, its largest championship contingent in 10 years.
The 1998-99 season brought the Husky women’s cross-country team its best finish ever at the NCAA Championships, a ninth-place effort, while the 1997-98 season saw Hooker capture the Huskies first NCAA sprint title with a win in the 55-meter dash at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
As evidenced by his selection to head the U.S. team in 2001, Richburg’s reach has extended beyond the collegiate ranks onto the national and international stage. Hooker was selected to represent the U.S. on the 4x400-meter relay unit at the 2000 Olympics, where he was joined by two former Huskies, U.S. discus thrower Adam Setliff and Swiss steeplechaser Christian Belz.
The 2001 Worlds marked Richburg’s second appointment as National Team coach.
In 1997, Richburg received another prestigious coaching appointment. He was selected by USA Track & Field as the head coach for the U.S. national team for the World Indoor Championship Meet during March in Paris, France.
Richburg was an assistant coach for the 1989 Junior Pan American team and also assisted with the United States National Team in its dual meet with Great Britain on Mar. 14, 1994 in Birmingham, England.
Richburg was responsible for converting the Washington women’s track & field team into one of the best dual-meet squads in the nation. The UW women’s team ranked among the top-10 dual-meet teams in the nation every year during the 1990s.
He has met with similar dual-meet success upon taking over the men’s program, with back-to-back unbeaten seasons in 1999 and 2000, going 13-0 in that span. Richburg’s 76 dual-meet victories as women’s head coach is the most in Washington history, more than doubling his closest rival.
Richburg led the Washington women to an impressive 76-30-1 dual-meet record since coming to the school. His 1988 UW squad finished 10th at the NCAA championship meet, the best national finish in the school’s history. His Husky women’s teams have produced 11 conference and two NCAA individual champions.
From 1995-98, his track & field teams featured Aretha Hill, a four-time All-American who participated in the discus event at the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, placing 34th.
Richburg guided the Washington women’s team to the 1996 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation indoor championship and was named conference and regional coach of the year for his efforts. In 1988, Richburg was also named District VIII Indoor Women’s Coach of the Year.
Prior to coming to Washington, Richburg spent seven seasons at Kent State, earning Mid-American Conference (MAC) Coach of the Year accolades in 1980. He directed the men’s team to a third-place conference finish in 1984, the school’s best team finish since 1979. Richburg also recruited and coached two-time 100 and 200-meter MAC champion Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson went on to win the Bronze medal in the 200 meters at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
A fine athlete in his own right, Richburg earned All-America accolades as a sprinter at Kent State. He finished sixth in the 200-yard dash at the 1967 NCAA championships and still holds the Kent State indoor record for the 440-yard dash and the outdoor records for the 220- and 440- yard dashes. In addition, Richburg captained the 1969 track team.
Richburg also played football at Kent State, earning a varsity letter and setting records for the second-longest kickoff return in school history (a 98-yarder against Buffalo in 1967).
A 1970 graduate of Kent State, Richburg earned his undergraduate degree in health and physical education. He later earned his master’s in education from Western Michigan where he was also an assistant track coach for three years.
Richburg and his wife, Telva, are the parents of two. His son, Julio, was a standout sprinter on the UW men’s team, completing his collegiate career in 1990.