Rhonda Riley was named the head women’s cross country coach and assistant track & field coach in June of 2016. Her primary responsibilities include coaching Duke’s middle and long distance runners.
In the 2017 campaign, Riley oversaw a Blue Devil women’s cross country squad that was led by a pair of freshmen in Amanda Beach and Michaela Reinhart. The two finished in the top two for Duke in every race of the season. Beach capped her initial year placing 27th at the NCAA Southeast Regional Championships while Reinhart claimed 28th. The Blue Devils took 10th as a program and sent five runners into the competition.
At the ACC Championships, Reinhart took 16th with Beach in 17th to both earn all-league accolades. Duke ended the meet with 180 points to place seventh for its highest finish since the 2013 season. The 2017 campaign also marked the first time two Blue Devils earned All-ACC accolades since 2013. Reinhart was named the ACC Freshman of the Year as she was the first true freshman to finish the race.
During 2018 the track & field campaign, Riley helped Beach qualify for the NCAA East Preliminary in the 10,000m and she crossed the finish line in 36:06.25. She turned in the top three times by a Blue Devil in the 10,000m as well as the fastest Duke time in the 5,000m. Brittany Aveni also qualified for the NCAA East Preliminary Round in the 800m.
At the ACC Outdoor Track and Field Championship, Aveni crossed the finish line of the 800m 2:07.41 to claim seventh place. Beach picked up second team All-ACC honors at the league meet by placing sixth in the 10,000m with a time of 35:13.90.
During her first season as the Duke women’s cross country coach in 2016, Riley helped guide the Blue Devils to two first-place team finishes, including finishing first among 22 teams at the VertCross Invitational. Riley also coached twelve separate runners to top-10 finished throughout the season, including one first place performance. Under Riley’s guidance, Sophia Parvizi-Wayne finished in 15th at the ACC Cross Country Championships to earn All-ACC Honors. Five Duke runners took the starting line at the NCAA Southeast Regional Championships under Riley’s assistance as well.
In her debut season with the track & field team, Riley helped guide the Duke women distance runners to a successful 2016 season, including helping Madeline Kopp earn second team All-America honors in the 800-meters at both the NCAA Indoor and NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Riley brought a wealth of coaching experience to the Duke women’s cross country team. Prior to coming to Durham, Riley spent nine years as an assistant coach helping with the Vanderbilt program, helping guide it to new heights as the women’s cross country team made five consecutive appearances at the NCAA Championships and claimed back-to-back South Region titles during the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
During Vanderbilt’s 2011 campaign, Riley assisted in leading the Commodores to their first Southeast Conference title with five runners placing in the top nine at the championship meet. The campaign also began a streak of five straight berths to the national meet for Vanderbilt.
In addition, Riley coached Alexa Rogers to a 39th-place finish at the 2011 NCAA Championships, resulting in the program’s first All-America honoree. In her final year at Vanderbilt, Riley helped freshman Caroline Pietrzyk claim All-America status by placing 32nd at the 2015 national cross country championship after earning SEC Freshman of the Year recognition earlier in the season.
Riley assisted with Vanderbilt’s track and field program as well, guiding Katherine Delaney to a 2016 NCAA Championship berth in the 1,500. Delaney achieved a personal-best time of 4:17.96 over 1,500 meters while competing at the NCAA East Preliminary Round to qualify for the national meet. In addition to Delaney, Carmen Carlos also saw significant success under Riley as she earned a 3,000m personal-best time of 9:21.34 and a second-place finish at the 2016 SEC Indoor Championships. Carlos finished less than a second behind the eventual conference champion.
During the 2014-15 track & field season numerous Commodores thrived with the tutelage of Riley, as Sara Barron (1,500) and Rebecca Chandler (Steeplechase) each qualified for the NCAA East Preliminary Round in their respective events. A variety of Vanderbilt distance runners added to the Commodores’ point total at the conference meet by placing among the top eight in the 1,500, the 5,000 and the 10,000, including Carlos, Delaney, Vanessa Valentine, Chandler and Barron.
In 2013, seven of Riley’s student-athletes qualified for the NCAA East Preliminary Round, joining four other Commodore competitors that comprised a Vanderbilt-record 11 participants at the competition.
Prior to joining the Vanderbilt program, Riley spent two years at Arizona State and one year at Oregon State.
Riley completed her undergraduate work at Oregon State in 2004, majoring in early childhood development and received her master’s degree in higher education while at Arizona State.