Eagle native son Brad Gamble named head track coach at Colorado Mesa University | VailDaily.com

Eagle native son Brad Gamble named head track coach at Colorado Mesa University

EAGLE — When Brad Gamble was a star track athlete at Eagle Valley High School, he had to look outside of western Colorado to find a college program where he could continue competition.

He wants that to change, and he is now in a position to make it happen.

This week, Gamble began work as the new head track coach at Colorado Mesa University.

"Being a Western Slope athlete myself, back in the day, I wanted to come back to the place where I fell in love with the sport," Gamble said.

Gamble, 31, graduated from Eagle Valley in 2005 and was a five-time gold-medal winner at the Colorado State Track Meet.

"I couldn't be any happier and excited that he is back in Colorado," said Eagle Valley track coach Jeff Shroll.

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Shroll said Gamble, as well as his brothers Alex and Chris, was a great kid to coach.

"Brad was always the life of the team, the life of the party," Shroll said. "But when it was time to get down to business, all of his still-standing track records speak for themselves. He is probably (Eagle Valley's) most decorated athlete."

Success in Nebraska

Following his Eagle Valley graduation, Gamble attended Hastings College in Nebraska, where he was an All-American in two events. Because of an injury, Gamble had missed his junior year of competition at Hastings, leaving him with one more season of eligibility when he graduated in 2010. At the urging of Ryan Baily, then head track coach at Chadron State College in Nebraska, Gamble enrolled in graduate courses at the Nebraska school and concentrated on multi-events.

"His hard work paid off," said Con Marshall, sports information director for Chadron State. "He set the national record while winning the heptathlon at the 2011 NCAA II national indoor championships and was the silver medalist on the decathlon at the national outdoor championships that spring."

Chadron's Coach

After his college eligibility was over, Gamble signed on as an assistant track coach at Chadron State. He remained in the job for three years and then became Chadron's head coach when Baily was named an assistant coach at Colorado State University.

"The Eagles flew high under Gamble's guidance," Marshall said. "They won 26 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference meet gold medals and 25 All-American honors, including seven national championships and five runner-up laurels."

Forty of the Eagles' 76 school records in events that are contested at conference and national meets were set during Gamble's three years as head coach.

The Eagles also fared well as a team during Gamble's tenure. They finished third in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference standings in three of the four competitions in 2015. The following year, the Chadron State teams accumulated the most total points at both the indoor and outdoor meets, and the women won the Eagles' first-ever conference team title at the outdoor championships.

After claiming the conference championship by 69 points, Gamble was named both the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference and South Central Region's women's coach of the year. The latter honor was a first for a Chadron coach.

"A highlight this year was at the national indoor championships, when the Eagles scored 38 points and were third in the women's team standings," Marshall said. "The trophy the Eagles received for placing that high was Chadron State's first for a team achievement at the national level in any sport other than rodeo."

Marshall added that Gamble's athletes also excelled academically. They garnered 29, or nearly one-fourth, of the conference's All-Academic honors during the past three years. Chadron State's track and field athletes also earned four Summit Awards for having the highest grade-point averages at the conference championship sites. The Chadron women's team was recognized for having the highest cumulative GPA in the conference for the 2017 indoor season.

Marshall said those close to the program reported that Gamble often worked individually with his athletes, beginning as early as 6 a.m. and into the late afternoon to fit with their class schedules.

"I was blessed with the most hard-working, passionate and talented athletes in the country," Gamble said. "They really wanted to be good. Being able to hang out with them was too much fun. I want all current and past athletes to know they are what has made my time in Chadron so special, and I hope I made their time here special, as well."

Back home again

Gamble said the fact that his hometown is only two hours from Grand Junction was a major factor in his decision to change jobs.

"During the last season, the news kind of spread that the Mesa coaches were let go," Gamble said. "But truthfully, at that point in the season, I was busy competing with Chadron State."

But after the college season ended, Gamble had the time to look into the job opening. Colorado Mesa is a larger school with a bigger program, Gamble said. He knew he liked the location, but he also liked the talent at Mesa.

"We also have a lot of great assistant coaches," he said.

"We are really excited to have Brad on board," said Colorado Mesa athletic co-director Kris Mort. "Being a Colorado native and an experienced coach in the (conference), we think he will take our program in the direction we would like it to go.

Gamble will join track and field assistant coaches Katrice Thomas, Yasin Gulgan and Matt Canterbury, who is also the head coach for cross-country.

"Brad's disciplines fit very nicely with the current coaching staff," Mort said.