Cowboys and Cowgirls Split Between Three Meets
Miller Now No. 2 In NCAA, Way hits New Personal Best
Oklahoma State track and field head coach Dave Smith joins Casey Kendrick on the OSU Spring Sports Roundup to talk about the achievements of the Cowboy Track program in 2012, as well as Tom Farrell's aspirations of representing Great Britain in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London.
Dave Smith is truly at the top of his profession.
The Oklahoma State head coach was honored as the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Men's Division I Cross Country National Coach of the Year in 2009 and then again in 2010. That is the highest honor awarded to a cross country coach. He was also voted by his peers as Big 12 Men's Cross Country Coach of the Year each of the past four seasons.
He led OSU to back-to-back NCAA team cross country championships in 2009 and 2010, and a runner-up finish in 2011. The Cowboys have won four-straight Big 12 team titles from 2008-11 under Smith, and he has coached three different Cowboy runners to Big 12 cross country individual championships, with German Fernandez winning it twice.
Simply put, it doesn't get much better - and that's not even including the five NCAA Midwest Region titles won by Oklahoma State since Smith took over the cross country program in 2006.
Oklahoma State has finished in the top 10 at the NCAA Cross Country Championships every year under Smith. Additionally, the Pokes placed in the top 25 at the 2009 outdoor track and field meet for the first time since 1985 in his first year as head track and field coach. At the 2011 Big 12 Indoor Championships, the Cowboys placed sixth, which is OSU's highest finish at the indoor conference meet since a sixth-place finish at the 1989 Big Eight Indoor Championships.
During the 2009-10 school year, Smith's Cowboys finished 14th in the USTFCCCA's John McDonnell Program of the Year standings. The standings for the McDonnell Award are based on the combined success of a program during the cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field seasons.
It's a similar story of success when you look at individual achievement under Dave Smith. The numbers speak for themselves.
Smith has coached three NCAA individual champions, 40 first-team All-Americans, nine second-team All-Americans and 43 Big 12 champions. While at OSU, he has coached 108 all-Big 12 performers. Smith has coached OSU athletes to 34 different All-America honors since 2007 alone. To put that figure into perspective, Oklahoma State had only 13 total All-Americans from 2000-06.
German Fernandez won the 2009 NCAA title in the 1,500 meters and was the Big 12 individual cross country champion. He swept all of the Big 12's major awards, claiming the conference's male athlete of the year honors during both the indoor and outdoor seasons to go with his cross country crown. Ryan Vail was the 2009 Big 12 individual cross country champion and was a five-time All-American under Smith, making him the most decorated OSU runner since John Wild more than a decade ago. John Kosgei was the 2010 NCAA runner-up in the 10,000 meters and was honored as the 2010 Big 12 Outdoor Performer of the Year after winning the 5,000 meters and the 10,000 meters at the conference meet. Girma Mecheso won the 2010 Big 12 individual cross country title and was one of five cross country All-Americans coached by Smith in 2010.
That success has rolled over into the classroom as well.
In addition to winning the NCAA cross country title in 2009, Smith's Cowboys were honored as the USTFCCCA Scholar Team of the Year for their excellence in the classroom. Every year under Smith's watch, Oklahoma State cross country has been recognized as an all-academic team by the USTFCCCA and in his first year as head track coach in 2009, five different Cowboy runners were honored with individual spots on the USTFCCCA's all-academic track and field team. Ryan Vail was an ESPN the Magazine/CoSIDA First-Team Academic All-America in both 2008 and 2009 to become the first repeat Academic All-American in OSU track history.
Smith arrived in Stillwater in 2002 and served as an assistant coach under Dick Weis for four years before being elevated to head men's cross country coach in 2006. Upon Weis' retirement following the 2008 cross country season, Smith was promoted to head men's track coach and in the summer of 2009, Smith assumed control of both the Cowboy and Cowgirl programs under the title of director of cross country and track and field.
Having placed 10th at the NCAA Cross Country Championships in 2006, third in 2007 and eighth in 2008, the Cowboys entered the 2009 cross country season as a proven commodity and were considered as a possible threat to reigning NCAA champion Oregon and traditional power Stanford. OSU spent the entire season ranked in the top five nationally, but weren't ranked No. 1 at any point of the campaign. However, the Pokes toppled Oregon by 16 points at the NCAA Championships and overwhelmed top-ranked Stanford by a whopping 227 points to put an exclamation point on their NCAA title season.
Smith's strategy going into the race was to let his senior captain Vail lead the way. Through the first 3,000 meters, OSU was in third place, six points ahead of the Cardinal. At the midway point, OSU created some separation between itself and the rest of the field, with Vail leading the posse of Cowboy runners. Through 8,000 meters, OSU held a comfortable lead over second-place Oregon. From that point, the Pokes made their final surge to seal the victory.
When the smoke cleared, OSU crowned four All-Americans en route to winning the title, with Vail finishing seventh, sophomore Colby Lowe eighth, Kosgei 11th and sophomore Girma Mecheso 24th. For his efforts, Smith was honored as the USTFCCCA National Coach of the Year.
It was a different refrain in 2010, as the distance-running community had already developed a familiarity with Oklahoma State as the top dog. That said, Smith and the Cowboys destroyed the field at the 2010 NCAA Championships, racking up the fourth-largest margin of victory in the history of the NCAA Championships in defeating the field by a whopping 120 points.
All five Oklahoma State scorers earned All-America recognition at the 2010 NCAA Cross Country Championships, led by the trio of Mecheso, Fernandez and Lowe, who finished seventh, eighth and ninth, respectively. Tom Farrell was 29th and Johnathan Stublaski was 36th.
Perhaps the scariest part of the Cowboys' domination of the 2010 NCAA Championships is the fact that Smith actually utilized a conservative strategy in dropping Farrell back in the field. Farrell had run side-by-side with Mecheso, Fernandez and Lowe during the season, but Smith's NCAA strategy was to have Farrell stay back in the field and then make his move at the end in a manner that would help the team in case any other squad threatened.
Expectations were high for Smith's Cowboys during the 2008 cross country slate, as the Pokes were ranked No. 2 in the nation for most of the year. A team title at the Cowboy Jamboree highlighted the regular-season portion of the schedule. In the post-season, OSU claimed its first-ever Big 12 team title and fourth consecutive Midwest region crown before heading to the NCAA Championships. The story of the meet going in was freshman standout Fernandez, who ended up not crossing the finish line after sustaining a leg injury during the course of the race. In a testament to the depth of the squad, Smith's Cowboys still placed eighth even without any points coming from their top performer.
During the 2009 outdoor season - Smith's first as head coach - the Cowboys placed 25th in the final team standings and Fernandez won the 1,500 meter title. OSU's team finish was the best for a Cowboy team in 24 years and Fernandez became the Pokes' first NCAA champion since Paul Larkins in 1986. Additionally, Vail earned All-America honors in the 5,000 meters.
Smith's mindset of success has permeated the women's program as well. Since taking over the Cowgirls for the 2009-10 season, the OSU women's program has produced six All-Americans and six Big 12 champions. To put those numbers into perspective, the Oklahoma State women's program had tallied five All-Americans and seven Big 12 champions from 2004-09.
Under Smith's watch, the Oklahoma State women's cross country team placed fourth at the 2010 Big 12 Championships and was 17th at the 2010 NCAA Championships. Both of those showings were the best for the Cowgirls since 2005.
The 2008-09 season was also a success in the classroom, with Vail earning ESPN the Magazine/CoSIDA First-Team Academic All-America honors for the second straight year and the Cowboys earning all-academic team recognition by the USTFCCCA.
Smith came to Stillwater from Texas Tech, where he was the head men's and women's cross country coach, as well as assistant track coach from 1998-2002. Prior to his stint at Tech, Smith was a volunteer assistant coach for the University of Washington track and cross country programs from 1997-1998. He was also the head coach of Club Northwest women's cross country and track those same years. Athletes that Smith has coached have won three NCAA Championships, 18 All-American awards, 19 Big 12 Championships, and a World University Games gold medal.
While competing collegiately at Michigan State, Smith was the Big Ten Conference champion in the 10,000m in 1993 and placed second in the 1,500m that season. He earned All-Big Ten honors four times in cross country and track during his career. Was also an 11-time Academic All-Big Ten selection and three-time Academic All-America selection. Smith also won the Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor in 1993.
Smith graduated from Michigan State in 1993 with a degree in fisheries and wildlife, and continued his education at the University of Washington, where he earned a Ph.D. in pharmacology in 2000.