Lisa Owens named SCAC Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year
Centre cross country coach Lisa Owens was recently named the SCAC Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year, after the Colonels won their first conference championship in women’s cross country since 1994.
“The honor of being named SCAC Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year means a great deal to me,” Owens says. “This honor is not an easy one to achieve within our very competitive athletic conference.”
Owens has won honors for SCAC Men’s Cross Country Coach of the Year in the past, but this is her first time winning the award as the women’s coach.
“This one is very special to me. It is the culmination of all of the hard work, dedication and accomplishments that my girls and myself were able to achieve this past fall,” says Owens.
The 2011 season was an exceptional one for the Centre women’s cross country team. Besides winning the first SCAC Women’s Cross Country title since Owens has been head coach, they also received an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III National Championships for the first time in school history.
“Our men’s cross country team has qualified six of the last eight years for the national championships, and it has always been a major coaching goal of mine to qualify both the men’s and the women’s team to the championships in the same year,” Owens says. “I always hoped for it, but knew that it would be an exceptionally hard task. It seems very surreal that I have finally achieved that goal.”
Early in the season, Owens knew that the women on the cross country team would be making a big impact.
“This is the best freshman recruiting class, as a whole, that we have ever brought in,” Owens says. “Our young girls were able to come into the fall and make an immediate positive impact with our team, and our upperclassmen girls trained and raced with more passion and intensity than I ever could have asked for.”
Owens is particularly proud of this year’s teams.
“I feel so very blessed to be able to work with these very talented and hardworking young men and women every day,” she says. “They give everything they have in training and races, and that effort definitely paid off this season for both teams.”
Owens also credits assistant coach Dan Graber for the team’s successes.
“Dan has been with our teams for the past four years — he is very knowledgeable about our sport, meshes with our teams very well and is an amazing recruiter and good friend,” she says.
Owens is already excited about next year’s cross country prospects.
“The future looks exceptionally bright for our women’s team,” she says. “Although we lose a couple of key seniors to graduation, we return a very young and talented group of women who will set out to accomplish even bigger and better things next fall.”