Coaching Timeline 1997-98: Washington cross country and track and field volunteer assistant coach 1998-2002: Texas Tech head men's and women's cross country coach and assistant track and field coach 2002-05: Oklahoma State men's assistant coach 2006-present: Oklahoma State men's cross country head coach Dec., 2008-present: Oklahoma State men's track and field head coach 2009-present: Oklahoma State director of cross country/track and field (men's and women's programs)
Dave Smith is truly at the top of his profession, and is only getting better.
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, 2010 and again in 2012. That is the highest honor awarded to a cross country coach.
He was voted by his peers as Big 12 Men’s Cross Country Coach of the Year in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013, while recently serving as the men’s distance coach for Team USA during its stay at the 2014 World Junior Championships.
He led OSU to three NCAA team cross country championships in four years (2009,2010, 2012) to go with six straight Big 12 team titles from 2008-13 and has coached three different Cowboy runners to four Big 12 cross country individual championships.
OSU 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. Smith has also led the Pokes to back-to-back top 10 finshes at the NCAA Indoor Championships. The Cowboys’ eighth-place finish in 2013 was OSU’s highest finish since 1984, followed by a sixth-place finish in 2014 which was OSU’s second-highest team finish in school history behind a second-place finish in 1965. The 2013-14 cross country/track & field season can easily be considered the best in school history, as Smith coached the Cowboys to a third-place place finish at the NCAA Cross Country championships, a sixth-place finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships and a 13th-place finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Additionally, Smith’s squad last year won Big 12 titles in cross country and indoor track & field and had a third-place conference finish in outdoors, helping the team to a second-place finish for the USTFCCCA’s Program of the Year award.
Smith has coached 96 All-Americans and 63 Big 12 champions. While at OSU, he has coached 52 Big 12 champions and 253 All-Big 12 performers. Smith has coached OSU athletes to 83 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 in both 2008 and 2011. He swept all of the Big 12’s major awards as a freshman, claiming the conference’s male athlete of the year honors during both the indoor and outdoor seasons to go with his 2008 cross country crown. Ryan Vail was the 2009 Big 12 individual cross country champion and was a five-time All-American under Smith. 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. The list goes on and on.
That success has rolled over into the classroom as well.
In addition to winning the NCAA cross country title in both 2009 and 2012, Smith’s Cowboys were honored as the USTFCCCA Scholar Team of the Year for their excellence in the classroom both seasons. Every year under Smith’s watch, Oklahoma State cross country has been recognized as an all-academic team by the USTFCCCA and in 2013, the OSU track and field teams combined for 12 USTFCCCA All-Academic individuals, and both the men’s and women’s teams had the highest GPA’s in the Big 12. Ryan Vail was an ESPN the Magazine/CoSIDA First-Team Academic All-American 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 a possible threat to reigning NCAA champion Oregon and traditional power Stanford. OSU spent the entire season ranked in the top five nationally, but was not ranked No. 1 at any point during 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 still managed to turn heads by destroying the NCAA competition, 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.
In 2012, OSU went back and forth with Wisconsin all year at the No. 1 and No. 2 national rankings. The Cowboys took the No. 1 ranking to the NCAA meet, and ran like it, decimating the competition and winning the national title by 63 points over second-place Wisconsin. It was OSU’s third team NCAA title in four years. Tom Farrell, Shadrack Kipchirchir, Girma Mecheso and Joseph Manilafasha took home All-America honors.
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.
In the 2013 indoor season, OSU spent most of its time smashing school records. It started at the Razorback Invitational, when Farrell, Kirubel Erassa, Fabian Clarkson and Shane Moskowitz ran sub-four minute miles at the same meet, something that had never been done in NCAA history. It ended with the Cowboys taking eighth place at the NCAA meet, a feat that had not been accomplished since 1984. Seven Cowboys combined for nine All-America honors--the most in OSU indoor history.
Since Smith took over the women’s program in 2009, he has already coached the Cowgirls to 19 All-America honors and 18 individual Big 12 championships, led by NCAA champion, seven-time All-American and eight-time Big 12 champion Natalja Piliusina.
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.
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 coached prior to his arrival at Oklahoma State won two NCAA Championships, 10 All-American awards, 11 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.