Gary Aldrich, the throws coach for USA Track and Field at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, will begin his eighth year at the helm of the Carnegie Mellon University Men’s and Women’s Track and Field programs in 2021-22. Aldrich has had as storied career leading the Tartans track and field programs, earning U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) recognition five times while leading the men’s team to a 16th-place finish at the 2021 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. An additional five honors from USTFCCCA came during Aldrich’s eight seasons as the associate head coach of the Tartans.
The program’s best finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships came in 2021 when five athletes competed in six events with four earning All-America recognition. Topping the list of accolades was thrower Bram Miller who finished second in the shot put and became the first Tartan to earn two All-America honors at the outdoor meet in the same year when he finished seventh in the discus. Also earning All-America recognition was jumper Justin Kiefel in the triple jump and sprinter Andrew McGovern in the 400-meter hurdles.
After more than a year off of competition 13 men and five women were named all-region by USTFCCCA as Kiefel earned Mideast Region Outdoor Men’s Field Athlete of the Year. Aldrich was recognized for the second time as Mideast Outdoor Coach of the Year, his fifth head coaching award from the organization.
Before COVID-19 canceled the 2020 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, three Tartan runners were set to compete in the 800-meter run and mile run. All three garnered All-America honors while 13 men and 13 women received USTFCCCA All-Region awards.
During Aldrich's time on staff, he has mentored 11 athletes to 18 All-America honors and the men's program has won six University Athletic Association (UAA) Championships while it has finished second 11 times. The 2019 team won the UAA Indoor Championship leading to another UAA Coaching Staff of the Year award while placing second at the outdoor championships. In 2016-17, the men’s program won both the indoor and outdoor UAA Championships, leading to both coaching staffs being honored. In total, Aldrich has been part of three indoor honors and three outdoor honors including his time as an associate head coach.
Known for his work in field events, hurdles and strength and conditioning, Aldrich has also motivated a mid-distance and distance cohort to NCAA Championship competition. In 2016, junior Owen Norley raced to a sixth-place finish in the mile at the indoor championships while freshman Rai Walters became the first jumper in school history to compete at the indoor championships. Norley followed that with a fifth-place showing in the mile at the 2017 national meet while the distance medley relay team made school history as the first relay to compete at the indoor championships. During the outdoor season, Norley competed in the finals of the 1,500-meter run, placing 13th, while Jacob Schofel placed 18th in the hammer throw.
The 2018 season saw the women's team place fourth at the UAA Championships, tying for the program's best finish. Two athletes competed at the NCAA Outdoor Championships for the women with sophomore Michelle Karabin earning All-America honors in the pole vault. Four school records were also set by the women during the indoor and outdoor seasons. On the men's side, Jacob Schofel returned to the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the hammer throw and placed 13th, while junior Isaac Mills ran in the 800-meter race at the NCAA Indoor Championships. The men's team swept UAA Rookie of the Year honors and Field Athlete of the Year honors in 2018, as they finished second at both the indoor and outdoor UAA meets. The teams also set five new school records throughout both seasons.
Aldrich led a school best six male athletes to the 2019 NCAA Indoor Championships and three to the 2019 NCAA Outdoor Championships, including sophomore Bram Miller who became the first Tartan thrower to compete in two events at the outdoor championships. Alongside his regional coaching awards, Aldrich mentored Marvin Bennett Jr. and Miller to sweeps of the UAA Athletes of the Year awards for the indoor and outdoor seasons. Freshman Justin Kiefel was awarded the indoor rookie of the year award, marking the first time in UAA history one school received all three awards. Senior Rose Ciriello joined the men at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, competing in the 800-meter run a year after Sarah Cook did the same.
In Aldrich’s first season in charge, senior Thomas Vandenberg took fifth-place in the both the 400- and 800-meter dashes at the indoor championships before closing his career with an eighth-place finish in the 800-meter dash at the outdoor championships. Joining Vandenberg at both championship events was senior George Degen who competed in the 3,000-meter run and the 10K and senior Erin Kiekhaefer who raced in the mile and the 1,500-meter run.
In eight seasons as the associate head coach, Aldrich was named the USTFCCCA Mideast Regional Assistant Coach of the Year five times (2008 outdoor men, 2011 outdoor women, 2012 indoor men and women and 2012 outdoor women). His career started with nine UAA Championship performances in 2006-07 with two individuals earning UAA Outdoor Field Rookie of the Year and UAA Outdoor Field Performer of the Year honors, with one female competing at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
For his career, Aldrich has coached 11 UAA Rookies of the Year, 17 UAA Performers of the Year and watched as individuals won 70 UAA titles in the field and hurdle events. In 2014 Zachary Erra-Hernandez became the first Carnegie Mellon thrower to earn All-America honors while he and James Hulley combined to compete at six NCAA Championships under Aldrich.
Aldrich also mentored Jacqueline Guevel to three All-America honors (55-meter hurdles, 100-meter hurdles and 400-meter hurdles) as a freshman in 2011, helping to put the women's track and field team on the national map. Guevel added to her All-America numbers with a fourth-place finish in the 60-meter hurdles at the 2012 NCAA Indoor Championships while only an illness kept her off the track at the NCAA Outdoor Championships as she once again qualified for both the 100- and 400-meter hurdles.
While at Carnegie Mellon, Aldrich has had seven opportunities to coach on the international stage with his most recent appointment coming at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. Prior to his Olympic dream coming true, Aldrich coached the 2019 NACAC U23 Team as the Men's Throws Coach. He also went to the 2017 World Outdoor Championships in London, England, where he was the U.S.A. Men's Throws Coach. Prior to that appointment, Aldrich served as the U.S.A. Men’s and Women’s Throws Coach at the 2016 World Indoor Championships in Portland, Oregon. Another international appointment saw Aldrich served as the men’s throws coach at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada. His first international experience came as the men’s throws coach for the NACAC (North American, Central American, and Caribbean Athletic Association) Under 23 Team in July 2010 before he served as the men’s throws coach for the United States at the World Junior Track and Field Championships in Barcelona, Spain in July 2012.
Because of this experience, Aldrich was asked to be the throws instructor at the Brazilian Olympic Committee Coaches Academy in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in September 2017. While in Brazil, Aldrich taught at the academy which was an intensive five-day learning environment. He lectured for four hours a day as well as an additional four hours of "Learn by Doing" at the throwing area.
Aldrich came to Carnegie Mellon from Rhode Island where he was the Mid-Atlantic Sales Manager for M-F Athletic Company/Perform Better. As a sales representative for the largest track and field distributing company and functional training company in the United States, he lectured for state track and field coaches association clinics on various topics including throwing and jumping events and strength and conditioning. He is also currently the vice president of the National Throws Coaches Association and is responsible for aiding in the organization of the national convention and putting on throws clinics around the country.
A graduate of Slippery Rock University, Aldrich has previously coached at Slippery Rock, Allegheny College, and most recently Alfred University in New York from 1995-1998. While at Alfred, Aldrich was the head coach for men’s and women’s track and field and also the men’s and women’s cross country teams. He led the teams to numerous conference runner-up finishes and was named the Men’s Coach of the Year following the 1997 men’s conference championship season in track and field. Seven members of his cross country teams were named Academic All-Americans and he coached the women’s team’s first NCAA individual qualifier.
Aldrich graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in physical education and health, with an emphasis in coaching and teaching certification K-12, in 1982 and finished his Master of Science in Kinesiology/Biomechanics in 1989, also from Slippery Rock. He currently holds the school discus record and was inducted in October 2006 to the Slippery Rock University Athletic Hall of Fame and is a member of the Somerset (Mass.) High School Athletic Hall of Fame. He qualified for the 1983 Division II NCAA meet in the discus and is a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) champion in the shot put.
Aldrich has published a discus video and DVD through M-F Athletic Co. called “Come to Practice”, has written numerous articles about the various aspects of throwing events published on web sites such as www.mfathletic.com and holds his Level II USAT&F Coaching Certification in both jumps and throws and is a lead instructor for Level I USAT&F Coaching Certification.