Olympic Sports

ISU hires new track/cross country coach

The following is a press release courtesy of Iowa State athletics communications. 

AMES, Iowa – Five-time national championship coach Martin Smith is the new Director of Track & Field / Cross Country at Iowa State University according to Director of Athletics Jamie Pollard.

“This is an historic day for one of Iowa State’s most storied programs,” Pollard said. “Our goal is to have one of the nation’s premiere cross country and track & field programs and Coach Smith shares that vision. His has built both women’s and men’s championship-level programs throughout an accolade-filled career.”

Pollard has admired Smith’s work for many years.

“I have worked directly with Martin at the University of Wisconsin and, again, in the Big 12,” Pollard said. “I simply could not be more excited and proud to welcome Martin, and his wife, Renee, to the Cyclone family.”

Smith served most recently as Head Coach for Track & Field / Cross Country at Oklahoma (2005-13), where he led the Sooners to 2007 Big 12 outdoor championship, their first in nearly 30 years.

Prior to that, he led or worked with track & field and cross country programs at Oregon (1998-05), Wisconsin (1983-98), Virginia (1980-83) and George Mason (1979-80). His coaching career started at Oakton (Va.) High School, where his team won a state title.

Smith’s expertise and greatest successes have come in the distance events and cross country and that will likely be the backbone of his Iowa State teams, too. Smith will lead a Cyclone program poised to establish itself as a collegiate power for long-distance runners.

Smith’s teams won national championships in 1981 (Virginia women’s cross country and indoor track), 1982 (Virginia women’s cross country) and 1985 and 1988 (Wisconsin men’s cross country). In a 35-year collegiate career, Smith has coached nearly 300 All-Americans and his teams have won 25 conference championships.

“I am honored to accept this position at Iowa State and am extremely excited to build upon our existing foundation and restore a proud tradition created years ago by legendary coaches Bill Bergan and Chris Murray,” Smith said. “To have the chance to work alongside an Athletics Director like Jamie (Pollard), who understands and shares my passion for the sport, is a special opportunity as well.”

Smith was two-time (1985 and 1988) NCAA Cross Country Coach-of-the-Year for the Badgers, and he has earned nine league Coach-of-the-Year honors in three different conferences. He was Big 12 Men’s Coach of the Year both outdoors (2007) and indoors (2010) at OU.

In six seasons with the Sooners, Oklahoma set all-time Big 12 best finishes in all six of the sports he supervised (women’s and men’s indoor and outdoor track & field and cross country). OU won the Big 12 Men’s Outdoor title in 2007 and added a Big 12 Men’s Indoor championship in 2010.

The Oklahoma women’s program had its best-ever finish at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championship (fourth) in 2011 and the men’s program was fifth nationally in the John McDonnell “Program-of-the-Year” standings (conducted by the USTFCCCA) that season.

Oregon recorded 15 Top-20 finishes at the NCAA Championships during his tenure there. He coached 65 All-Americans with the Ducks and directed both the men’s and women’s track & field and cross country programs beginning in 2003 after the retirement of Tom Heinonen.

The Cyclone track & field program will focus on enhancing its brand as a premiere program in which to train and compete.

“That starts with owning the state of Iowa and the Midwest and dominating the distance events at the Drake Relays each year,” Pollard said. “We have a sparkling new outdoor complex, one of the nation’s fastest indoor tracks and a cross country course dedicated solely for that sport. Those assets, along with a commitment to building a championship program, are what allowed us to attract a coach like Martin to Iowa State.”

Smith is known as a relentless recruiter and superb program builder and motivator. His methods are well tested and successful.

“We’ll recruit hard, train hard and build a program that can sustain itself at the highest levels,” Smith said. “The combination of tremendous facilities, a significant commitment to our sport and a terrific tradition are necessary ingredients and they are a great springboard for an exciting future. The Cyclone program has a rich history, and my goal is simply to help our student-athletes reach their individual potentials and add to that legacy.”

Smith, a native of Alexandria, Va., earned his B.A. degree in history and political science from Bridgewater College (1974). The three-sport letterman for the Eagles was inducted into that institution’s athletics hall of fame in 2004.

He is married to the former Renee Schwister, who has one son (Ross).



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