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Trojans Set To Host Coach “O” Invitational Event Photos >>

For Immediate Release, Knoxville, Tennessee - 10/22/07

The Troy University men’s and women’s cross country teams will be in action this weekend as they host the annual Coach “O” Cross Country Invitational at Trojan Oaks Golf Course.

The men’s 5K race will be held at 9 a.m. with 55 total runners from eight schools. There are also seven unattached runners scheduled to compete in the men’s race, including past Sun Belt Conference, and NCAA champions Vincent Rono and Tony Okello. The women’s 2-mile race is scheduled to follow at 9:30 a.m. with 83 competitors from 12 schools scheduled to compete.

Troy Director of Track and Cross Country Jill Lancaster said her teams are looking forward to competing on their home turf.

“We are coming off a good meet last weekend and are in the final stages of preparation for the Sun Belt Conference championship,” Lancaster said. “Our teams are excited because they are going to compete in front of home fans and they get to sleep in their own beds before the race.”

The women’s race will feature runners from Alabama A&M, Alabama State, Birmingham-Southern, Chipola, Florida A&M, Georgia State, Mercer, South Alabama, Southeastern Louisiana, Alabama and the University of the South.

The men’s race will include runners from Alabama State, Birmingham-Southern, Florida A&M, Georgia State, Mercer, South Alabama and Southeastern Louisiana.

The event will also include a special guest as Coach Charles Oliver, who this event as well as a spring track meet are named for, will be in attendance for the first time in many years. A biography of Coach “O” follows.

Coach Charles Oliver

Charles Oliver, or Coach “O”, was a three-time national champion – complete with championship rings – as an athlete, a coach and an administrator.

Coach Oliver was a national champion athlete at Troy State University, winning the NAIA 400-meter championship, and was an alternate on two United States Olympic teams in the 400 meter and the 4x400 meter relay. He still holds the Troy 400-meter record at 45.71 seconds, and, demonstrating his loyalty to his alma mater, he now sponsors two meets at Troy, the Coach “O” Cross Country Invitational and the Coach “O” Track & Field Invitational.

Oliver was a coach for the 1991 University of Tennessee national champion track and field team, and an administrator with the 1998 UT national champion football team.

Coach “O” is also a successful businessman with his company, Bags by Coach “O”, which, in addition to quality athletic bags, has developed an online meet entry program which is
used widely around the country. Some of the profi ts from the entry program are donated to youth athletics to support grass roots track and field programs for kids.

In addition to philanthropy, Oliver is an innovator as well. He is the key to the fact that 82% of the KTC Officials Association members are USATF certified. He is also the driving force behind the website.

Believing in education as he does, he set up practicum and intern programs for sports management students at the University of Tennessee.

Coach “O” has been married to his wife Jessie for 30 years and has two sons, Charles and Alexander, who were both star athletes in their own right.

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