Last season’s 2011 women’s cross country campaign marked a banner season for a number of programs in their current head coach’s fifth-year. Joe Franklin’s New Mexico squad recorded its fourth consecutive MWC Championship and second straight top-ten finish in Nationals.
Iowa State’s Corey Ihmels took home Women’s Big 12 Cross Country Coach of the Year and Women’s Midwest Region Coach of the Year honors after his Cyclones finished at the front of both their conference and region.
Paul Pilkington’s Weber State climbed to the top of the Big Sky en route to impressive showings in the Mountain Regional and Nationals. And Bill Taylor’s Lipscomb women claimed an A-Sun Championship after steady improvements over the past few seasons.
But never content to rest on their hard-earned laurels, each continued to find success in 2012. Franklin’s Lady Lobos put the program’s staying power on full display, again racking up an MWC championship and top ten NCAA Nationals finish.
Ihmels oversaw not only another Iowa State Big 12 Championship and Midwest Regional title, but also an NCAA individual championship won by Cyclone, Betsy Saina. Pilkington’s Weber State Wildcats not only defended their Big Sky Championship, but also reached the top of the Mountain Regional and recorded their highest NCAA Nationals finish (17) and ranking (15).
Finally, Taylor’s Lipscomb repeated as A-Sun champs, tied last year’s program-high regional finish (7), and saw its first ever All-South Region runner in Dani Walker.
So keep in mind that the following two to five-year coaches, who also have their teams soaring to unprecedented program heights, may yet have higher to go.
Engel’s Phoenix climbed from sixth in the Southern Conference in her first season to SoCon runners up and a program-best 16th in the 2012 Southeast Regional.
The Roadrunners’ fifth place showing in the 2012 South Central Regional was the program’s best since 1996.
The 2012 Northeast Conference Women’s Coach of the Year guided the Bryant women to their best finish since joining D-I and the school’s first ever NCAA event.
Tyson’s Zags have increased or maintained their WCC standing in all five seasons and in 2012 achieved the program’s best West regional finish (14).
The Broncos’ 10th place West Regional finish is the program’s best since 2004.
Moore has overseen the Lady Rattlers’ rise from 8th to 2nd all the way to 1st in the MEAC Championship.
In their first Sun Belt campaign, the Georgia State women won the conference championship and finished 11th in the South Regional.
The 2012 Musketeers’ 13th place finish at the Great Lakes Regional is a program best.
Walsh’s Griffins reclaimed the CAA and recorded their best Southeast Regional finish (2nd) to qualify for the program’s first NCAA appearance since 2005.
After finishing seventh in the conference last year, the Bears finished 8th in the 2012 Northeast Regional and sent Margaret Connelly to the NCAA championships, the program’s first Nationals runner since 2007.
After winning last year’s Heptagonal for the first time in 13 seasons, Bowman’s Cornell women repeated and ended their season 13th overall in the NCAA championship.
The Horizon League Cross Country Coach of the Year guided the Ramblers to an 11th place finish in the Midwest Regional after a 25th place showing last year.
In 2012, Lee’s Lady Pirates broke program C-USA and Southeast Regional records for highest finish, both set in his first season.
Patchell’s Arkansas State women had their highest finishes in both the Sun Belt Championship and South Central Regional (9th).