Fred Samara is an Ivy League lifer.
Six years after graduating from rival Penn and three years removed from competing at the 1976 Montreal Olympics in the decathlon, Samara was introduced as head coach of the Princeton men’s track & field program in 1979 – a position he currently holds.
At Penn, Samara was an accomplished athlete. He earned two All-America honors and won five individual championships at the Penn Relays.
When Samara arrived in Princeton, New Jersey, he knew what it took to win in the Ivy League and put that knowledge to good use.
Since 1979, Samara’s Tigers have won 41 Ivy League Heptagonal titles. Princeton has won 20 indoor crowns, 17 outdoor crowns and four in cross country (Samara coached those harriers from 1992 to 1998 and 2004 to 2007).
The Tigers dominated the Ivy League from 1997 to 2000. During that span, Princeton earned back-to-back-to-back Triple Crowns, winning team titles in cross country, indoor track & field and outdoor track & field in the same academic year. The Tigers would later accomplish that same feat in 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2014-15.
Samara’s charges have combined to win 429 Ivy League titles in track & field between individual and relay events. More than half of those (229) were obtained under a roof.
Princeton has been well-represented on the national level as well.
The Tigers have won three individual NCAA titles under Samara’s watch. Tora Harris swept the high jump crowns in 2002, Donn Cabral won the steeplechase in 2012 and the following year the team of Michael Williams, Austin Hollimon, Russell Dinkins and Peter Callahan brought the indoor distance medley relay title back to the Garden State.
Samara’s athletes have pulled together for a total of 74 All-America honors in track & field and another three in cross country. Forty-five of those All-America medals earned in track & field were done so by Samara’s athletes on the track compared to 29 in the field.
Cabral was one of four Princeton athletes coached by Samara to compete in the Olympics. The others were Harris, Debbie Saint-Phard and Augie Wolf, who both starred in the shot put. Wolf recorded the best finish out of Samara’s athletes as he finished fourth at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.
Outside of the collegiate level, Samara coached field events for the U.S. Track & Field Team at the 1987 IAAF World Championships in Rome and was an assistant coach for the Americans at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
Samara has been named USTFCCCA Mid-Atlantic Regional Coach of the Year nine times in his career: five outdoor (2001-02, 2011-13) and four indoor (2004, 2007, 2011-12).