As Joe Dial enters his 24th full season at the helm of the ORU Cross Country and Track & Field programs in 2016-17 it's no stretch of the imagination to say that he has presided over the most successful era in Golden Eagle history. Dial started at ORU in the fall of 1993 and became the head coach in February 1994.
Included in his time at ORU are three NCAA National Championships, including two by Andretti Bain (Indoor 400m, Outdoor 400m) in 2008 and one by Jack Whitt (Outdoor Pole Vault) in 2012. Dial has led ORU to unprecedented success in the Summit League and Southland Conference. In 2002, 2005, and 2006 the men's and women's indoor squads swept the conference title, while the women also took home the Outdoor Championships in '02 and '06. In 2003, the ORU men captured both the Mid-Con Indoor and Outdoor Championships for the first time in school history, while the women finished second in the indoor competition and third in the outdoor event.
The cross country teams have also entered a new era of accomplishments, as they each recorded their highest Mid-Con Championship finish in 2005. The men finished third in the event, while the women's squad, led by two-time Mid-Con Athlete of the Year Faithy Kamangila, took home their first-ever conference title. The men’s team also recorded a third-place finish in 2008 at the Summit League Cross Country Championships as they were led by Summit League Male Athlete of the Year Jonah Lagat.
For his efforts, Dial has received Mid-Con Coach of the Year honors on 14 occasions since ORU joined the conference in 1997, including four such accolades during the 2005-06 season. He was also named the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association's (USTFCCA) 2006 Midwest Region Men's Coach of the Year for the outdoor season, after guiding the Golden Eagles to a ranking as high as 16th in the USTFCCCA Division I poll.
There have been 48 Golden Eagle All-Americans during Dial's tenure at ORU, as those athletes earned All-American honors in nearly 30 events. Dial’s most recent All-Americans include Madison Reynolds, Justin Estala, Jack Whitt, Marvin Bonde, Andretti Bain, Shaun Smith and Rachel Talbert. Whitt finished second in pole vault at the 2011 NCAA Outdoor Championships and sixth in the 2010 NCAA Indoor Championships. Bonde finished fifth in the 200-meter dash at the 2009 Indoor Championships, while Talbert placed sixth in the discus at the 2008 Outdoor Championships. Smith picked up All-American status in the 800-meters at three championship meets, including an eighth place finish at the 2007 NCAA Indoor Championships, a sixth place finish at the 2007 NCAA Outdoor Championships and sixth place finish at the 2008 NCAA Indoor Championships.
Dial’s most accomplished athlete came in Andretti Bain, ORU’s first-ever Olympic medalist in any sport. Bain (Nassau, Bahamas) helped lead his native country to a silver medal in the Olympic men’s 4x400 meter relay in Beijing in the fall of 2008. Bain became the first-ever NCAA National Champion in any sport at ORU, as he placed first in the 400-meters at the both the NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Championships. The four-time All-American also placed eighth in the 400-meters and was a part of the seventh-place 4x400 meter relay team at the 2007 NCAA Indoor Championships.
At the 2006 NCAA Outdoor Championships, Olympian Prince Mumba earned All-American honors by placing 3rd in the 800-meter run, while Diana Chelimo followed suit with an 8th place finish in the 1,500-meter race. Mumba also picked up All-American status as he finished 2nd at the 2006 Indoor Championships. Kamangila became the cross country program's first-ever female All-American by virtue of her 11th place finish at the 2004 NCAA Cross Country Championships.
Marsha Dawkins earned All-American honors at the 2003 NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Championships. She finished fourth in the 400-meters at the indoor meet and sixth in the 400-meters the outdoor meet. Dial also coached his niece, Dena Dial, to a seventh-place finish and All-America status in the pole vault at the 2000 NCAA Indoor Championships. She finished fifth to earn All-America honors at the 2000 NCAA Outdoor Championships and qualified for the 2000 Summer Olympic Trials.
Golden Eagle Virgil Maddox qualified for the 2000 Olympic Trials in the 100-meter dash and received All-America honors after finishing third in the 1999 NCAA Outdoor Championships (a school-record 10.12 seconds). Dial also coached All-American Ben Chisum, who placed eighth in the pole vault at the 1999 NCAA Indoor Championships.
Overall, Dial has had 70 NCAA Championship Qualifiers (68 individual, two relays) at ORU, along with five others who advanced to Olympic Trials competitions.
His squads saw immediate success when they joined the Mid-Con during the 1997-98 year. The men's team won the 1998 Mid-Con Indoor Championships and Dial was named Coach of the Year, while the women's team finished third in the competition.
The men repeated as the 1999 Mid-Con Indoor Champions, with Dial retaining his Coach of the Year honor, and the women placed third again that season. The women earned their first Mid-Con Indoor Championship during their third year of competition and Dial again was named Coach of the Year.
Dial understands what it's like to win. He was the world record-holder in the pole vault in 1986. He also held the American pole vault record for nine years (1985-94), breaking his own record nine times in that span. His highest vault was 19'06.5". Dial won the bronze medal at the 1989 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary. For his efforts, Dial was inducted into the Pole Vault Hall of Fame in 2011.
A native of Marlow, Okla., Dial attended Oklahoma State University, where he was a four-time NCAA and six-time Big Eight Conference pole vault champion. Dial was the first collegiate pole vaulter to clear 19 feet, as he broke the Big Eight Conference record at the 1985 championships after vaulting 19’01.5”. He was inducted into the OSU Hall of Fame in 2002.
While at Marlow High School, Dial set the current Class 2A state record in the long jump with a leap of 23'05" in 1981. He was the Oklahoma Class 2A state long jump champion in 1980 and 1981, and was a four-time state champion in the pole vault (1978-81). Dial was the first high school pole vaulter to clear 18 feet.
In 2016, Dial was inducted into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame.
Dial and his wife Shawna, an assistant coach at ORU, have three children: Timmy, Tommy, and Tyler.