- Five-time National Coach of the Year
- 27-time SEC Coach of the Year
- USTFCCCA Coaches Hall of Fame
The most successful coach in University of Arkansas and Southeastern Conference women’s cross country and track and field history, Lance Harter is in his 27th year at the helm of the Razorback program. Harter’s individual honors include five-time National Coach of the Year and 27-time SEC Coach of the Year accolades. His Razorbacks have racked up 22 NCAA event titles, 157 SEC event titles and 435 All-America certificates through the 2016 outdoor season.
In recognition of his standout career and accomplishments, Harter was inducted into the USTFCCCA Coaches Hall of Fame on December 15, 2014, at the organization’s convention in Phoenix. He is also a member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Honor, Mt. SAC Relays Hall of Fame and Cal Poly Hall of Fame.
During his tenure, Arkansas has collected 13 NCAA podium (top four) finishes including the 2016 NCAA Outdoor Championship team title, 2015 NCAA Indoor Championship team title and five national runner-up performances – four of those from cross country. Harter has also guided his team to 28 SEC titles (16 cross country, six indoor track and six outdoor track) including the last seven-consecutive conference championships dating back to the 2014 SEC outdoor meet. His title haul at Arkansas also includes 20 NCAA Regional Championships in cross country.
In winning the 2015 NCAA indoor team crown, Harter and the Razorbacks secured the first-ever national title by any women’s program at the University of Arkansas. With its 63 points, Arkansas scored the third-highest team total in meet history and scored in each of the 15 events it had entries. The 2015 indoor season marked another first for the Razorback women when the program received its first-ever No. 1 ranking when the USTFCCCA released the Feb. 16 national poll.
Harter returned his track program into the national spotlight during the 2016 indoor season as the Razorback women posted their second-highest NCAA finish, earning a team silver for their efforts by only a three-point margin.
Shifting his team’s focus to its outdoor campaign Harter worked to develop his veteran and rookie talents, mentoring three-sport All-American Dominique Scott along with Arkansas steeplechase record-holder Jessica Kamilos and newcomer Devin Clark. At the 2016 NCAA Outdoor Championship Harter’s distance trio secured 32 of Arkansas’ 72 points with two gold medals from Scott in the 5K and 10K, a runner-up performance by Kamilos in the steeplechase and a fifth-place finish for Clark in the steeplechase.
Currently with two national championships to his credit Harter’s women’s track and field team remains the only women’s program at the University of Arkansas to win an NCAA national title.
Overall, Harter has guided Arkansas to 29 top-10 NCAA finishes (10 cross country, 12 indoor track and seven outdoor) in his tenure including 16 top-five performances. Through the 2015 outdoor season, the Razorbacks have finished third or better in 78 percent (56 of 72) of SEC Championship meets under his watch. Arkansas has never finished lower than third at an SEC cross country meet.
One of the best distance coaches in the country, Harter is responsible for the development of 14-time All-American Amy (Yoder) Begley who was the first Razorback to win a national title at both the indoor and outdoor championships. During her tenure at Arkansas and under the guidance of Harter, Begley raced to 15 SEC titles earning five SEC Athlete of the Year honors across the three seasons.
Continuing his legacy of training athletes that are nationally renowned through cross country, indoor and outdoor track & field, Harter transformed South African native Scott into one of the most versatile distance runners to ever compete on the collegiate circuit. The only five-time NCAA national champion in program history Scott was named the NCAA Indoor Runner of the Year in 2015 and was recognized as a semifinalist for the prestigious Bowerman Award in 2016. Under Harter’s guidance Scott set seven program records during her tenure as a Razorback. Scott along with Therese Haiss, Kamilos and Sparkle McKnight own the second best performance in the NCAA history in the distance-medley relay.
Harter’s coaching prowess hasn’t gone unnoticed by his peers at the international level where he has represented the United States five times including duties as an assistant coach at the 1992 Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain. He served as the head coach of Team USA at the 1999 World Championships in Seville, Spain, and worked with former pupil Deena (Drossin) Kastor ahead of the 2004 Olympics where she went on to win bronze in the marathon. Most recently, Harter was the head coach of the United States’ women at the 2003 World Cross Country Championships in Brussels, Belgium.
Harter arrived at Arkansas in 1990 after 11 years of building the nation’s top Division II program at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo. His teams at Cal Poly-SLO won a Division II record 14 national championships, including eight consecutive cross country and six track and field titles. He was Division II national coach of the year 10 times.
From the beginning of NCAA Division II Championships in 1981, Harter’s teams controlled the awards ceremonies. The Mustangs finished runner-up the initial season and after that ran off a string of eight straight titles. In track and field, Harter won five NCAA and one AIAW championship.
Before coaching at Cal Poly-SLO, Harter was the men’s and women’s track and field coach at Smoky Hill High School in Denver, Colo. During his five years with SHHS, his teams won five cross country and five track conference titles. Before SHHS, he was an assistant coach for two years at Colorado State.
A 1972 graduate of Texas Tech, Harter set several school records as a member of the cross country and track teams. A dean’s list honoree every semester at Tech, he earned his degree in physical education and American history. He earned his master’s in education from Colorado State in 1974, focusing on physiology of exercise. He has completed doctoral hours at both Colorado and Colorado State.