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Letterwinner’s Lounge – Tony Wheeler

Letterwinner’s Lounge – Tony Wheeler

Note: The following appears in the June issue of Orange: The Experience. For full access to all of the publication’s content, join IPTAY today by calling 864-656-2115.

By Sam Blackman // Athletic Communications

Tony Wheeler made the most of his Clemson experience.

Not only did he receive his undergraduate degree from Clemson in 1997, he also earned his master’s degree in 2003.

When he was considering schools, the well sought-after track & field star and 1994 World Junior Champion visited Clemson and immediately knew it was the place for him.

“When I went on my recruiting visit to Clemson, James Trapp and Michael Green were my two hosts,” Wheeler said. “I fell in love with Clemson as soon as I walked on campus.  Sure, the facilities were great, but the people were awesome, too. I thought I could excel in track and with the services of Vickery Hall, I could graduate and get a great education.”

In track & field, he was not a disappointment, living up to his billing as a seven-time All-American for the Tigers.

As a sophomore in 1995, he finished third in the NCAA Indoor 200-meter dash. The next year, he finished third at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the 200. During his senior season in 1997, he propelled the 4×100 relay to a silver medal at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. 

Along the way, he was an eight-time champion in the ACC, winning the 200 three times and the 400 once, while also a member of four gold medal relays.

“One of the best memories that I have was when our team won the ACC Outdoor meet my senior season, and we broke the record for most points ever scored at the event.”

Wheeler was named to the ACC 50-Year Anniversary Team in 2003, capping off a very successful career.  

“What got me interested in track & field was watching the Olympics in 1984 and seeing Carl Lewis win four gold medals in Los Angeles. He was an amazing sprinter, and I knew that was what I wanted to do. 

“My father (Jesse Wheeler) was also a great athlete. Everywhere I went, people would tell me how great my father was. He was a career military officer. I was born in Columbus, Ohio, and we moved to Virginia when I was 10, so we were a big military family.”

Wheeler has many fond memories of Clemson.

“I am really indebted to Coach Pollock and my sprint coach, Keith Barnier. They were great coaches. They helped mold me as a better athlete, but more importantly, they made me a better person. I really appreciate them giving me the opportunity to run track at Clemson. Coach Barnier understood me, and he loved his athletes and wanted them to have fun. Coach Pollock was one of a kind, he was a great man and coach. He was firm, but fair, and I loved Coach Pollock and his family.  

“After I graduated, I had an opportunity to work in Vickery Hall with an assistantship, and it allowed me to go to graduate school as well. I really appreciated the experience. I also started working at the campus radio station. It was something I always wanted to do, and something I wanted to do later in life.”  

Working at the campus station opened doors for Wheeler, currently a DJ and music director at Hot 98.1 FM in Greenville, S.C.   

“I really enjoy life and my work,” Wheeler said. “I enjoy what I do and where I live, and I am really thankful to Clemson and my experience there.

“IPTAY is really amazing. It is the foundation of Clemson Athletics. No matter where you go, you see Clemson alumni, and when you see someone wearing Clemson gear, you can’t help but smile and say hello to them. I can’t thank IPTAY enough for providing me with an education and opportunities that will last a lifetime.

“I wanted to give back and say thank you, and one way I do this is by being a proud member of IPTAY!”

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