GARY BY THE NUMBERS
- 28 NCAA Individual All-Americans
- 8 top-10 individual finishers at NCAAs
- 57 NCAA All-Region performers
- 19 Academic All-Americans
- 11 top-35 team finishes at NCAA Championships
- 5 team USATF Championship Qualifiers
- 5 Team USA Members
- 3 team region championships
- 12 team conference titles
- 8 USATFCCCA All-Academic Awards
Rita Gary is in her seventh season as an assistant coach with the Furman track and field/cross country programs. The 2018 USTFCCCA Southeast Region Assistant Coach of the Year, she has coached 11 teams to a top-35 finish at the NCAA Championships, including the 2017 Furman women’s cross country team, which placed seventh at the national meet, the highest finish in Furman program history. She has coached teams to three region championships and 12 conference titles.
During her career, Gary has coached 28 NCAA All-Americans, including eight to top-10 finishers, 29 Academic All-Americans, five team USATF Championship Qualifiers, and three Team USA Members. Her athletes have claimed 57 NCAA all-region awards, while her teams have won eight USATFCCCA All-Academic Awards, the Heller Commitment to Community Award, and the Furman University Golden Paladin Award in 2017.
Under Gary’s direction, Furman won the SoCon women’s cross country title for the fifth-consecutive season in 2017. Allie Buchalski was named the SoCon women’s runner of the year for the third time in her career after winning her third individual league title.
The Paladin women went on to placed second at the Southeast Region Championship, the highest regional finish in the history of the Furman women’s program, placing four women on the all-region team. The Furman women entered the NCAA Championships ranked 11th but went on to score a seventh-place finish, led by Buchalski, who placed ninth to earn her sixth-career All-American award.
At the 2018 SoCon Indoor Championships, the Paladin women set a program record with 107 points after taking the top three spots in the 800m and the mile and the top two positions in the 5,000m. Krissy Gear was named the indoor track women’s freshman of the year after winning titles in the 800m and the mile.
Eleven Furman distance athletes in six events, the most in program history, competed at the NCAA Outdoor East Preliminaries. On the women’s side, Gabrielle Jennings, Krissy Gear, Allie Buchalski, and Savannah Carnahan went on to compete at the NCAA Championships, each earning All-American citations.
Buchalski, the most decorated athlete in the history of the Furman cross country/track and field program, claimed her seventh All-American honor after finishing as the national runner-up in the 5,000m, the highest finish by any Furman track and field athlete at the national championship meet. She went on to sign a professional contract with Brooks Beasts and placed seventh in the 5,000m at the USATF Championships. Gear won the 3,000m Steeplechase at the USATF Junior Championships and competed as a member of Team USA at the IAAF World U20 Championships, where she finished tenth.
Furman captured the SoCon cross country women's title for the fourth-consecutive season in 2016, and Savannah Carnahan was honored as the league's freshman of the year. The Paladin women posted a fourth-place finish at the Southeast Regional meet, barely missing automatically qualifying for the NCAA Championships by just five points. Furman placed three runners on the all-region team: Carnahan, Emma Grace Hurley, and Laura Miller.
During the 2017 indoor season, Allie Buchalski became the first All-American in the history of the Furman women's track and field program, placing fourth nationally in the 5,000m and seventh in the 3,000m. At the 2017 SoCon Indoor Championships, the Paladins scored a program-best 97 points.
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, including Allie Buchalski and Savannah Carnahan in the 5,000m and Gabrielle Jennings in the 3,000m Steeplechase on the women's side. Buchalski advanced from the NCAA East Preliminaries on to the NCAA Championships to take sixth place in the 5,000m to become a five-time All-American. Buchalski went on to qualify and compete at the USA T&F Outdoor Championships.
Gary led the Paladin women's cross country team to its third-straight SoCon title during the 2015 season. Junior Allie Buchalski, who won the SoCon individual title for the second-straight year, placed fourth at the NCAA Southeast Regionals to qualify for the NCAA Championships as an individual. She went on to become the first All-American in the history of the Paladin cross country program with a seventh-place finish at the NCAA Championships.
Buchalski was chosen the SoCon Women's Track and Field Most Outstanding Athlete and Most Outstanding Performer at the league's indoor championships after winning titles in the mile, 3,000m, and 5,000m.
At the 2016 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, Buchalski finished 14th in the 5,000m to claim second team All-American honors. She opened the outdoor season by setting a new Paladin record in the 5,000m then broke her own record at the NCAA East Preliminaries, notching the fastest qualifying time in the field. Buchalski also exceled in the classroom in 2015-16, earning a spot on the Academic All-District Team.
During the 2014 cross country season, Gary guided the Paladin women's team to unprecedented growth. The women handily defended their league title with a record-low 22 points at the conference championships then went on to finish sixth at the NCAA Southeast Regional Championships, the highest finish in Furman history. Gary also coached sophomore Allie Buchalski to the NCAA Cross Country Championships.
During the 2015 track season, the Furman distance women brought home seven SoCon track individual titles, set seven Furman school records, saw two individuals advance to the first round of the NCAA Championships, and provided Furman with its first NCAA Championship finalist (for both men and women) with Sinead Haughey’s record-setting 10K performance. Finally, freshmen Jacquelyn Crow earned her start at the USA Jr. Championships, where she placed 10th in the 1500m amongst national competition.
In her first year guiding the Lady Paladins, Gary closed out a season where every female distance runner under her tutelage set a personal best over the course of the year. Most notably, she helped guide sophomore Sinead Haughey to the league championship title in the 5,000m and 10,000m outdoors, marking only the fifth time in Furman women’s track and field history that an athlete won two events at the same league outdoor championship meet and the first time since 1996, when Salima Fountain clinched first in both the 200m and 400m. For her efforts, Haughey became the Paladins’ first recipient of the SoCon Outstanding Female Track Performer Award.
The women's program made huge strides in both cross country and track and field in Gary's second year. The women's team won the 2013 SoCon Cross Country Championships, marking the program's first title since 2006. Rookies Allie Buchalski and Grace Tinkey, arguably the best 1-2 freshman punch in the country, represented Team USA at the Bupa Great Edinburgh XC International Challenge and North America, Central America, and Carribean XC Championship, respectively. Gary also coached Haughey to the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field East Regional in the 10,000m.
As head women’s track and field/cross country coach at Miami University from 2008-2009, Gary was named the 2008 Mid-American Conference Cross Country Coach of the Year after leading the RedHawks to the first conference title in program history. Miami, which ranked as high as 35th nationally, finished sixth at the NCAA Cross Country Regional meet that fall.
Gary spent four years coaching at Michigan State before accepting the post at Miami. After serving as head women’s cross country coach/assistant track and field coach for two years, she was promoted in June 2006 to associate head cross country coach for the men’s and women’s programs/assistant track and field coach.
During her time with the Spartans, Gary was named the Great Lakes Region Cross Country Coach of the Year in both 2006 and 2007. Her 2007 team placed fifth at the NCAA Cross Country Championship, and her athletes garnered eight All-America, 23 NCAA Great Lakes All-Region, and 21 All-Big Ten citations during her tenure. Seven of her athletes were also honored as Academic All-Americans.
Prior to her time at Michigan State, Gary spent two years as an assistant coach at South Florida, where she coached the program’s first cross country All-American. She was part of the Bulls staff that was recognized as the 2003 Conference USA Coaching Staff of the Year.
A 2001 graduate of South Florida with a degree in mass communications, Gary spent two seasons as a undergraduate at Michigan State before transferring to South Florida. A six-time NCAA qualifier, Gary set two South Florida school records and was honored as a three-time Academic All-American. She led the Bulls to their first Conference USA cross country title and first NCAA Championship appearance.
A native of Saline, Mich., she is married to Furman head track and field/cross country coach, Robert Gary. The Garys are parents of a son, Percy.