news-category: Athletics

Greg Thiel Named Coach of Track & Field and Cross Country

Greg Thiel

Veteran coach joins Gardner-Webb from Southern Wesleyan, previously head coach at South Florida

BOILING SPRINGS. N.C. – University President Dr. William M. Downs has named Greg Thiel the next head coach of Gardner-Webb’s track and field and cross country programs, the Department of Athletics announced on Monday. Thiel joins Gardner-Webb after most recently spending 10 seasons as the head coach at Southern Wesleyan University. Earlier in his career, Thiel spent six seasons as the head coach at the University of South Florida  

“I am truly excited about this moment of renewal for our track & field/cross country programs,” said Downs. “Coach Thiel brings extensive experience and a passion for winning with him to Gardner-Webb. He will be a catalyst for helping us construct something that is sorely overdue at GWU—a new track—and his ability to recruit high-ability and high-character athletes will surely grow our roster into a formidable force within the Big South Conference and beyond. Lace ’em up, Bulldog fans. It’s time to run.”  

The first and only head coach in Southern Wesleyan track and field history, Thiel oversaw the program’s growth from an NCCAA program to an NCAA Division II program. Since completing the transition for the 2016-2017 season, Thiel produced eight All-Americans, 95 all-region athletes, and 137 all-conference athletes, 65 of whom also claimed Conference Carolinas championships.  

Thiel was named Conference Carolinas Indoor Coach of the Year in 2016-2017 and Outdoor Coach of the Year in 2021. His women’s track and field team finished as Conference Carolinas runner-up nine times during the indoor and outdoor seasons.  

In the infancy of Southern Wesleyan’s program, Thiel developed 41 NCCAA All-Americans and six national champions, including the 4×400 women’s relay team that claimed back-to-back national titles in 2015 and 2016.  

“I’m so thrilled to welcome Coach Thiel and his family to Gardner-Webb University,” said Vice President & Director of Athletics Dr. Andrew T. Goodrich. “Greg’s vast experience and accomplishments will serve our students incredibly well as they seek to become champions on and off the fields of play. His commitment to and success with helping students become the best they can be mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, set him apart in our national search.”  

Prior to his time at Southern Wesleyan, Thiel spent seven years as a high school athletic director and administrator in Florida. In those roles, Thiel helped build new facilities, developed strength programs, negotiated apparel contracts, started new programs, and managed budgets.  

A veteran of the collegiate ranks, Thiel was previously the Head Track and Field and Cross Country Coach at South Florida for six seasons, where in 2003 his women’s outdoor team claimed the program’s first-ever Conference USA Championship. That season Thiel was named C-USA Women’s Track and Field Coach of the Year. The Bulls also notched runner-up finishes during the 2004 outdoor season, the 2003 indoor season, and the 2002 outdoor season at C-USA women’s championship meets. In his six seasons at USF, he coached 17 All-Americans and 60 conference champions.  

Outside of competition, Thiel’s teams also excelled in the classroom. During his USF tenure, the women’s cross country team was named an Academic All-America program (top-20 cumulative GPA) five times (2001-05), while his men’s cross country team received the honor three times (2002-05). In track and field, the women earned the same recognition three times (2002-04) and the men took home the honor once in 2003. In addition, Thiel’s 2001 women’s track and field team was named Conference USA’s Academic Team of the Year after posting a 3.3 cumulative GPA.   

Before taking the reins at USF, Thiel was an assistant with the Bulls. As an assistant he helped develop and launch the program, serving as the recruiting coordinator for sprints, throws, and hurdles. He directly coached and developed nine All-Americans and five Olympians.  

“I want to thank Dr. Downs and Dr. Goodrich for this amazing opportunity,” said Thiel. “I am so excited to be a part of the GWU family. It’s a true blessing to lead the track & field and cross country program. I look forward to building relationships and producing a strong program all the while glorifies God in all we say and do.”      

What they’re saying about Coach Thiel…  

“Greg is a very talented coach. He’s one of those old-school coaches that can coach just about any event. Greg has a long history of success through hard work. Once he’s on a project he’s all-in until the athlete has reached their peak, or the project has reached its completion. Greg has always been a program builder and I’m sure he’ll do the same at Gardner-Webb.”  

–Bob Braman, 2006 & 2008 NCAA Champion, Head Coach Florida State  

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