In 22 seasons at the helm of the UTEP track and field program, head coach Bob Kitchens has continuously led the Miners to the forefront of the national picture while mentoring gold medalists both on the track and in the classroom.
He has been the architect behind UTEP regaining name recognition as a dominant track and field program throughout the world.
Since being hired as the UTEP head coach in August of 1988, he has accumulated a spectacular coaching resume. Kitchens has produced 133 outdoor All-Americans, 71 indoor All-Americans, 14 cross country All-Americans and his athletes hold 20 of the school's indoor records and 28 of the outdoor records. He has led the Miners to six top-five NCAA finishes (four indoor, two outdoor) and 14 conference titles (six outdoors, four indoors, four cross country). Kitchens was honored seven times by the Western Athletic Conference as the Coach of the Year and was named the Conference USA Coach of the Year at both championships in 2006. He has overseen the training of 19 NCAA champions, 218 NCAA All-Americans and 343 conference champions. He has also sent 28 Miners to compete in the Olympics, including current Miner and 2008 Beijing bronze medalist Blessing Okagbare.
Over the years, Kitchens has had the knack for turning the raw talented into the world's elite. He coached the world junior record-holder in the outdoor 100-meter (10.08 by Obadele Thompson) and 200-meter (20.07 by Lorenzo Daniel) dashes and produced the world record-holders in the indoor 55-meter (5.99 by Thompson) and 100-meter dashes. His athletes set NCAA indoor and outdoor championship records in the 200 with Thompson running 20.36 indoors in 1996 (since been broken) and Daniel running 19.87 outdoors in 1988.
Kitchens has made the sprinting events his expertise. At UTEP he has coached eight NCAA champions and had 83 athletes gain NCAA All-America honors -- an average of 4.6 per year -- in sprinting events.
During the 2008 outdoor season, Mickael Hanany became the NCAA Champion in the high jump, giving UTEP its first national championship since 2005. Eleven Miners earned a total of 13 All-American honors, and the women's team closed out the season with a 10th-place finish at nationals, its best ever finish at the national outdoor meet. Kitchens was named the 2008 USTFCCCA Mountain Region Women's Coach of the Year for the indoor season as he led the women's team to a 13th place finish at nationals.
In 2007, he sent a total of eight individuals in indoor and 10 individuals plus one relay in outdoor to the NCAA Championships, including Mickael Hanany, Nelly Tchayem and Fatimoh Muhammed. The trio finished as indoor All-Americans after posting top-eight finishes at the national meet. Hanany was named the Conference USA Athlete of the Year for the second consecutive year and the USTFCCCA Mountain Region Athlete of the Year after taking gold in the long, triple and high jumps at the C-USA indoor meet. Stephen Samoei wrapped up his collegiate career as a track and field outdoor All-American after taking sixth in the 10,000 meters at nationals. He was joined by silver-medalists Elias Koech (800m) and Erma Gene Evans (javelin).
In 2006, Kitchens was named the Mountain Region's Indoor and Outdoor Coach of the Year by the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). He was also named the Midwest Region's Outdoor Coach of the Year by the USTFCCCA after leading the Miners to a seventh-place finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. His men's team won both the indoor and outdoor C-USA titles and his women's team had its best-ever finish (second) at the outdoor meet.
Kitchens coached 17 All-Americans in 2006 including Mircea Bogdan, Hanany, Churandy Martina and Jenny Holmroos. Bogdan was the national runner-up in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and was the C-USA Outdoor Athlete of the Year. Hanany was the C-USA Indoor Athlete of the Year and gained three All-America honors during the indoor and outdoor seasons. Martina set the school record in the 100 (9.95), gained three All-American honors and was named the Mountain Region's Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year by the USTFCCCA. Holmroos picked up All-American honors indoors and was named the C-USA Indoor Athlete of the Year.
In 2005, Kitchens helped the Miners close out their Western Athletic Conference tenure in style. UTEP swept the men's indoor and outdoor titles. The Miner men finished 12th at the NCAA Outdoor Championships behind Bogdan's gold medal in the steeplechase and Hanany's silver medal in the high jump. During the indoor season, Adriana Pirtea captured the silver medal in the 3,000-meter run at the NCAA Championships.
Since the inception of the regional meet concept in 2003, Kitchens has had 60 point winners and eight NCAA Midwest Regional champions. His men's squad recorded a second-place finish in 2006.
The Miners were the national runner-up in 1994 with Andrew Tynes winning the 200-meter dash and Jim Svenoy taking the gold in the steeplechase. UTEP also finished fifth nationally in 1992 with Olapade Adeniken claiming the crown in the 100 and 200 at the NCAA Championships. Current assistant coach Mika Laaksonen was also a national champion in the hammer at the 1992 outdoor championships. Adeniken was not the only Miner to win both the 100 and 200 at the NCAA Championships in the same year under Kitchens' guidance. Obadele Thompson pulled off the impressive double during the 1997 season.
Kitchens has also had its fair share of success stories. In 2003, he trained former walk-on Aaron Egbele to All-America honors in the indoor 200 and in both the 100 and 200 outdoors. Egbele later earned the Olympic bronze medal at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games as part of Nigeria's 400 relay.
Building successful track and field programs has become second nature to Kitchens. He came to UTEP following a nine-year tenure at Mississippi State, where he produced some of the most talented sprinters in the country. Among his various feats at Mississippi State, Kitchens coached 28 NCAA All-Americans including three national champions. His athletes set 34 school records (18 outdoors, 16 indoors) and two NCAA records. One of the highlights of his coaching career came when his 1,600 relay won the 1982 NCAA outdoor gold, the first national title of his career.
In 1988 Lorenzo Daniel set the collegiate record of 19.87, winning the 200 at the NCAA Championships. The record still stands today. Daniels also broke the world junior record in the 200 and established the NCAA record in the 300 under Kitchens.
At Mississippi State Kitchens also started the women's program in 1986 and immediately produced three All-Americans and one Olympian.
Kitchens began his head coaching career at West Texas A&M, serving in that capacity from 1968-79. Kitchens transformed a program which at first consisted of mostly walk-on athletes into a winner. He quickly developed the program and produced six NCAA All-Americans and 70 Missouri Valley Conference champions. He was named the MVC Coach of the Year after leading the Buffaloes to the 1977 MVC cross country and the 1979 MVC indoor titles. Both teams dethroned national-power Southern Illinois, which had won each previous MVC title in the 1970s.
In addition to his coaching duties at West Texas A&M, Kitchens taught bowling, tennis, racquetball and weight training as an instructor in the department of physical education. He earned his master's degree in education from West Texas A&M in 1970.
A four-year member of the track and field team at Texas Tech, Kitchens gained a scholarship after first coming to the program as a walk on. He earned three letters, running the 100 and 200 as well as the sprint relays for the Red Raiders. After exhausting his eligibility he continued to work with the track and field program as a student assistant coach while he finished his degree in education.
Kitchens was born in Plainview, Texas, a small community located on the high Texas plains. He was raised on a ranch outside Silverton, Texas, and lettered in both track and football at Silverton High School.
Kitchens is a member of the prestigious Drake Relays Hall of Fame and the West Texas A&M Athletic Hall of Champions. In addition he was named a top-100 sports legend of the 20th century by the Panhandle Hall of Fame in 2000. Kitchens was inducted in to the El Paso Athletics Hall of Fame in 2007. Four of his former athletes, including 2006 inductee Andrew Tynes, have been enshrined in the UTEP Track and Field Hall of Fame.
Kitchens has four daughters (Kristy Racz, Janet Pezirtzoglou, Candice Uribarri, Morgandy Barnett) and resides in El Paso.
Texas Tech, 1968