The Stride Report has confirmed that Alabama's women's distance coach Will Palmer will be the next men's and women's distance coach at the University of Florida. His hiring comes less than a month after it was reported that the Gators' former distance coach, Chris Solinsky, was leaving the program to join the Oregon Ducks.
Fellow Alabama assistant coach Samantha Palmer, who is married to Will Palmer, will join the Gators as a volunteer assistant coach in Gainesville.
Will Palmer has emerged as one of the most respected distance coaches in the nation, molding the Crimson Tide women into a national-caliber powerhouse in cross country and in the distance events on the track.
At the 2021 NCAA Winter XC Championships, Palmer and the Alabama women stunned the country with a huge 8th place finish. And after a 15th place finish at the 2021 NCAA Fall XC Championships, the Crimson Tide women seemingly reached their full potential during their 2022 cross country campaign.
This past fall, the Alabama women won the SEC XC Championships and went on to place 3rd at the 2022 NCAA XC Championships. Palmer's group had four women finish in the top-20, each earning top-half All-American honors.
Based on team scoring, that was the best top-four of any program at the national meet.
Palmer has been responsible for the development of numerous national-caliber distance stars over the last few years. Mercy Chelangat, for instance, has become one of the more dominant endurance-centric collegiates of the past five years.
Chelangat won the individual national title at the 2021 NCAA Winter XC Championships and ended her 2022 outdoor track season with a 10k national title.
Other current Alabama standouts include Hilda Olemomoi (15:18 for 5000 meters), Amaris Tyynismaa (4:09 for 1500 meters) and Flomena Asekol (4:32 in the mile). Esther Gitahi is no longer an active runner for Alabama, but was also a 2021 cross country All-American for the Crimson Tide women.
Palmer will now inherit a Florida distance group that, on the women's side, is currently headlined by long distance superstar, Parker Valby. The Gators also landed a top-tier group of women's distance recruits from the Class of 2022.
It is not yet clear when Alabama will fill their now-open women's distance coaching position.