A graduate of Bingham High School and Weber State University, Farley Gerber became an NCAA champion and world-class runner in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.
Farley maximized the coaching of steeplechase expert Chick Hislop of Weber State, developing into one of the best athletes not only in Wildcat history, but in the Big Sky Conference and the NCAA.
For the conference’s 50-year observance in 2013, the Big Sky ranked Farley No. 21 among the “50 Greatest Male Athletes.” He was listed behind only basketball player Damian Lillard and football player Jamie Martin among Weber State’s representatives on that list. And his 1984 NCAA victory was judged No. 20 in the “50 Greatest Men’s Moments” in Big Sky history.
In that NCAA meet in the track and field shrine of Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, Farley outdueled the favored Julius Korir of Washington State. Korir would go on to win the Olympic gold medal that summer, representing Kenya.
Farley had finished fourth in the ’83 NCAA meet, earning All-American honors, with Korir winning the event. After winning the ’84 race, Farley said, “If I had stayed back and tried to run with him in the last 200, he would have blown my doors off. So, with a half-mile to go, I decided to make him run a little harder. If he was going to beat me, he was going to be in a race.”
Farley won that race by two steps. His time of 8 minutes, 19.27 seconds stood as the American collegiate record until 2012, when was finally topped by Donn Cabral of Princeton. The time also was the second-best ever turned in by a U.S. runner, topped only by Henry Marsh, another member of the Utah Sports Hall of Fame Foundation. As a training partner of Farley’s, Marsh witnessed the race in Eugene.
Farley was a state champion in the mile and two-mile races for Bingham in 1978 and enrolled at Weber State, where Hislop was known as a leading authority in steeplechase training and techniques. Many years later, when she became the NCAA women’s record-holder, WSU’s Lindsay Anderson would point to the history of Wildcat runners such as Farley, saying, “I definitely think the steeplechase is a tradition at Weber State.”
By the time he left WSU, Farley held school records in the 1,500 meters, 3,000 meters, 5,000 meters, steeplechase and distance medley. He won four Big Sky titles, counting indoor and outdoor meets and finished fourth in the 1984 U.S. Olympics Trials, barely missing the opportunity to compete alongside Marsh in Los Angeles.
Prior to his senior year, Farley earned a silver medal in the World University Games in Edmonton, Alberta, being edged by Belgium’s Peter Daenens in a thrilling finish.
Farley was inducted into Weber State’s Hall of Fame in 1995. He earned 12 varsity letters at the school, as a runner in cross country and indoor and outdoor track and field. Farley was the first native Utahn who attended a Utah college to break the four-minute mile barrier and he’s one of four native Utahns to have won a NCAA track championship.
Farley and his wife, Laura, are parents of four children and live in Iowa.