NEAL BY THE NUMBERS
- 6 NCAA Individual All-Americans
- 14 NCAA Individual Finals Qualifiers - Track
- 26 NCAA East Preliminaries Individual Qualifiers - Track
- 24 NCAA All-Region Performers
- 44 All-SoCon selections - Cross Country
- 24 SoCon Champions - Indoor/Outdoor Track
- 4 SoCon Champions/Runner of the Year - Cross Country
- 2 Perfect Score SoCon Cross Country Titles - 15 pts
Chris Neal is in his seventh season as as assistant coach with the Furman's head track and field/cross country program. During his career, he has coached five NCAA All-Americans, seven NCAA finals qualifiers, and 16 NCAA East Preliminiaries qualifiers. He has also mentored 16 NCAA all-region performers, in addition to having 37 athletes garner All-Southern Conference accolades. Neal has coached 24 SoCon champions in indoor/outdoor track, as well as three SoCon individual champions/SoCon Runners of the Year in cross country. He has led the Paladins to five SoCon cross country titles, including two perfect score league titles, where Furman tallied 15 points.
Under Neal’s direction, Furman won the SoCon cross country men’s title for the fifth-consecutive season in 2017. Aaron Templeton was chosen the SoCon runner of the year after winning the men’s individual title, and Daniel Bernal recorded an eighth-place finish to claim SoCon men’s freshman of the year accolades. The Paladin men went on to win the Southeast Region Championship, the first region title in the history of the Furman program, placing six athletes on the all-region team. The Furman concluded the season with a 26th-place finish at the NCAA Championships.
At the 2018 SoCon Indoor Championships, the Paladin men scored 92 points, tying the most points scored by the program, which was set in 2015. Furman had the top three finishers in both the mile and the 5,000m and the top two spots in the 3,000m.
Eleven Furman distance athletes in six events, the most in program history, competed at the NCAA Outdoor East Preliminaries. Frank Lara went on to represent the Paladin men at the NCAA Championships, placing 15th in the 10,000m to earn his second-straight All-American citation.
Furman captured the SoCon cross country men's title for the fourth-straight year in 2016. Frank Lara won the men's individual title and was honored as the SoCon runner of the year, while Ryan Adams garnered SoCon freshman of the year honors after notching a fourth-place finish. The Paladin men posted a third-place finish at the Southeast Regional meet, barely missing automatically qualifying for the NCAA Championships by a just one point. Lara, who went on to compete at the NCAA Championships as an individual, earned all-region honors, along with Josh Brickell and Adams.
At the 2017 SoCon Indoor Championships, the Paladins took the top three spots in the mile, while four Paladin athletes scored in both the 3,000m and 5,000m. Ryan Adams took the title in the 800m, and Troy Reeder captured the mile championship. Adams went on to claim the Most Outstanding Track Performer award. Tanner Hinkle scored a second-place finish in the 5,000m and claimed third in the 3,000m.
Furman had more NCAA qualifiers during the 2017 outdoor season than ever before in the history of the program, as nine distance athletes qualified in six different events. Frank Lara, Ryan Adams, and Troy Reeder advanced from the NCAA East Preliminaries on to the NCAA Championships, where all four earned All-American accolades. Reeder placed eighth in the 3,000m Steeplechase to take first-team honors and went on to qualify and compete at the USA T&F Outdoor Championships.
Neal led the Paladin men's cross country team to its third-straight SoCon title in 2015. The Furman men went on to finish fourth at the NCAA Southeast Regional, qualifying for the NCAA Championships, and Tanner Hinkle, Frank Lara, and Aaron Templeton garnered All-Region honors. The Paladins claimed 13th place at the NCAA Championships, the highest finish by any Furman team at NCAAs during the 2015-16 athletic year.
At the 2016 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, Troy Reeder earned All-American accolades with a seventh-place finish in the 3,000m Steeplechase, becoming just the second All-American in the history of the Paladin track and field program. Reeder set the Furman record of 8:36.51 in the event during the NCAA semifinals, clinching a spot in the finals.
The 2014 cross country season was a record-breaking one for the Paladins, as the men took the top nine spots at the SoCon Cross Country Championship, winning their second conference title in as many years. Two weeks later, the men’s team finished second at the NCAA Southeast Regional Championship, earning a trip to the NCAA Championships. Tripp Hurt, Aaron Templeton, Tanner Hinkle, and Troy Reeder were all named to the USTFCCCA All-Regional Team.
On the track, the Paladins showed impressive growth during their time with Neal, claiming ten SoCon individual titles and setting 12 new school records during the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Most notable was Tripp Hurt, who qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Championships in back-to-back seasons in the 3000m steeplechase.
In his first season at Furman, his efforts were focused on guiding the men’s program and working as the recruiting coordinator for the entire Furman cross country and track program. Neal coached senior Wilkerson Given to All-Southeast Region honors at the NCAA Southeast Cross Country Regional, as Given posted the highest finish by any Furman men’s runner in program history. In the spring, Given went on to reach the NCAA East Regional Outdoor Championship in the 3,000m Steeplechase, an event he had just began competing in during the spring. Neal also engineered a Furman recruiting class that ranked among the top in the nation for both the men’s and women’s programs.
Prior to his time at Furman, Neal, a native of Lafayette, Ind., spent four seasons as an assistant coach at Ohio State, focusing primarily on the distance events. During his tenure, the Buckeyes qualified for the NCAA Cross Country Team Championship for the first time in school history (2009) then captured the program’s first Big 10 indoor championship in 2011. Ohio State also claimed back-to-back Big 10 Outdoor Championships in 2011 and 2012. Neal coached four NCAA cross country championship individual qualifiers and had eight athletes post All-Region finishes under his tutelage.
Prior to his time at Ohio State, Neal completed a four-year stint in New Orleans, first as an assistant coach at the University of New Orleans then as an assistant at Tulane. While at Tulane from 2006-08, Neal guided the Green Wave to an eighth-place team finish at the 2007 NCAA Mideast Regional and a ninth-place finish at the 2007 South Central Regional Cross Country Championship, the first top-10 finish in the program’s history. During his time at New Orleans, he coached the Sun Belt Conference cross country individual champion, four track and field individual champions, and 10 all-conference performers.
Neal spent two seasons as an assistant coach at Ball State in Muncie, Ind., before coaching in New Orleans. At Ball State, he mentored an NCAA national cross country championship qualifier, an NCAA outdoor track and field championships qualifier, and seven individual Mid-American Conference Champions.
A 2003 graduate of Eastern Kentucky with a bachelor’s degree in physical education, Neal earned his master’s degree in sports administration from Ball State in 2005. As a cross country letterman at Eastern Kentucky, Neal helped the Colonels to the Ohio Valley Conference championship in 2004. He is married to the former Carissa Westfall, of Monticello, Ind. The couple are parents of two sons, Merrick and Oliver.