While Keene State College athletes have had their share of accomplishments over the years, only one - Rob Edson - has the distinction of being a national champion. A member of the Keene State track and cross-country team in the late eighties, Edson won his crown at the 1989 National Cross Country Championships at East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania. A track star at Keene High School, Edson arrived at KSC after spending a few years at Colby College in Maine. He was coaxed back onto the trails by KSC Coach Peter Thomas. "I struggled big time my first few races back," Edson recalls.
In 1989, his senior season, Edson was back in gear. He won all but one race in his final year of competition - including the New England Championship, when he became the only non-Division I runner to win the open title. Edson was very confident as he stood at the starting line at the NCAA Championship Meet. "For a year I thought I could win that race," said Edson. "It was a great feeling crossing the line and accomplishing what I set out to do." Since then, he claims, "I might have lost track of one or two seconds of that race"
"Rob was the perfect athlete to coach," Thomas said. "He understood the sport and had an innate ability to know what it takes to win." A two-time All-American in cross-country, Edson also excelled on the track. He completed his Keene State career by gaining All-American honors in the 5,000-meter event in both the indoor and outdoor track championships. His Owl athletic career might have been brief, but it was productive from both an individual and team perspective. The Keene native helped cap an impressive decade for the Owl cross country juggernaut that made five consecutive trips to the NCAA Championships, from 1984 to 1988.
Completing his degree in elementary education, Edson continued his affiliation with the team as an assistant coach. Following graduation, he turned attention to his teaching career, working at Keene Middle School, then joining his wife, former KSC standout runner Cindy Bull, at Surry Elementary School. He has kept involved in the sport by serving as head track coach at Keene High.
"They tell me I'm always telling them stories," laughed Edson. And while Edson does share stories and strategies with his athletes, he also is quick to provide them with one other piece of advice: "One of the last things I tell them when they're at the line is to have fun."