Martin Smith was hired as the University of Oklahoma’s sixth head track and field coach in June 2005 with the expectation that good things would happen. And great things did.
In the six years under Smith’s guidance, six individual NCAA champions have been crowned, 49 of the program’s individual event or relay records have been broken, 98 NCAA All-America honors have been earned and 46 Big 12 titles have been won in individual or relay events along with the 2007 (outdoor) and 2010 (indoor) Big 12 men’s conference titles.
The past six seasons have seen the program hit double-digits in All-Americans each year including 29 in 2011, upping Smith’s career total to 274. The latest class was led by Mookie Salaam and Candyce McGrone.
The cross country teams completed another historic season in 2011. The men’s team recorded its highest ranking ever at No. 3 in the country and placed sixth at the 2011 NCAA Cross Country Championships. The OU women’s team ranked in the top 12 of the Midwest Region for seven weeks, ranking as high as No. 9.
At the Big 12 Championships, the OU men placed second, a best for the Sooners at the meet. A total of six Sooners claimed All-Big 12 honors in College Station.
Oklahoma continued its pace in the NCAA Midwest Regional as the Sooners placed second. All seven of Oklahoma’s runners placed inside the top 25, earning All-Regional honors. Kevin Schwab placed second overall for the second consecutive year to lead the Sooners to a third-straight NCAA Championship berth.
Bill Kogel earned Oklahoma’s sixth All-America honor, leading the Sooners to their second-best finish in program history at the 2011 NCAA Division I Cross Country National Championships.
The Sooner women concluded their season at the NCAA Midwest Regional with a strong performance by Jessica Engel, who automatically qualified as an individual for the Women’s NCAA Championship.
Fourteen Sooners were named to the Academic All-Big 12 team. Eleven Sooners earned first-team honors with sophomore Hilary Krein and senior Jeremy Sudbury honored as two of 10 student-athletes with a 4.0 grade point average.
The 2011 season saw the the women’s program record its highest finish ever (fourth) at the 2011 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. The Sooners had three NCAA champions in Salaam, McGrone and Brittany Borman. A total of 12 Sooners won Big 12 conference championships and 28 Oklahoma athletes earned All-America honors. In all, Oklahoma’s athletes set 19 program records during the 2011 season.
The men’s team finished fifth in the USTFCCCA John McDonnell Program of the Year race. Salaam was honored by the organization as its Midwest Regional Athlete of the Year for both the indoor and outdoor season. Salaam also earned Big 12 Outstanding Performer of the Year in both indoor and outdoor track.
Borman won the NCAA javelin title earning her a second All-America honor. Borman also captured the Big 12 javelin championship and won her second consecutive Big 12 discus title. McGrone set the Oklahoma program record in the 100-meter dash, running 11.08 to capture the women’s national title.
The Sooners also had a pair of first-time conference champions as Engel won the outdoor 10,000-meter run title and Tia Brooks captured the indoor shot put crown. Scottesha Miller won her first conference title since 2007 by taking the indoor 60-meter dash.
Salaam won the NCAA 200-meter dash title and placed second in the 100-meters at the event. He pulled off the double-double at the outdoor conference championship, winning both the 100- and 200-meter dashes. Salaam won back-to-back indoor 60-meter dash titles and also took home top honors in the indoor 200-meter dash at the Big 12 meet. K.P. Singh also repeated as the Big 12 hammer and weight throw champion. Schwab won the first indoor title of his career, taking the men’s 5,000-meter run.
Off the track, 30 student-athletes were honored as Academic All-Big 12 honoree. The women’s track and field team earned the nation’s highest distinction as the USTFCCCA Outdoor Scholar Team of the Year. Fifteen Sooners were honored by the USTFCCCA as All-Academic selections.
Eric Bailey received the 2010-11 John McLendon Postgraduate Scholarship from the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletes and was a second team Academic All-American as chosen by the College Sports Information Directors of America. He also earned an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship and was named to the Big 12 Winter Chick-fil-A Community of Champions.
The 2010 cross country season was one for the ages for the Sooner men. The team won the NCAA Midwest Regional title, its first in program history and went on to finish fifth at the NCAA Cross Country Championships, its highest ever. Schwab earned Oklahoma’s fifth All-America honor leading the Sooners to its best finish since 1946.
At the Big 12 Championships, the OU men placed all five scoring runners in the top 16 placing four on the All-Big 12 team. Schwab and Rob Sorrell claimed All-Big 12 honors for the second straight year as George Alex and Kevin Williams earned their first All-Big 12 honors.
Smith was named the 2010 Roy Griak Midwest Region Cross Country of the Coach of the Year by the USTFCCCA after the team’s performance at the regional. The honor marked Smith’s fourth coaching honor at Oklahoma and the 13th of his career.
The OU women’s team ranked in the top 15 of the Midwest Region for six weeks, ranking as high as No.13. The Sooners earned personal best times week-by-week and concluded their season at the NCAA Midwest Regional with strong performances by top runners Annie Martin and Molly Ferguson.
Eleven Sooners were named to the Academic All-Big 12 first team as Alex Muntefering was honored with a perfect 4.0 G.P.A.
The men’s team captured its first ever Big 12 indoor title in 2010 and its second Big 12 title under Smith with its highest point total, 114 points, in Big 12 history. Along with the men’s success, the women’s team finished fourth.
Following the conference win, Smith was named the Big 12 Coach of the Year and followed it up with the USTFCCCA Midwest Region Coach of the Year honor.
With its national finishes across the cross country and indoor and outdoor seasons, the Oklahoma men’s program finished sixth in the men’s program of the year race, just one point out of fifth place. The Oklahoma squad was the top finishing Big 12 program as Oklahoma State was the second best among conference schools in 17th.
Not to be outdone, the Oklahoma women finished ninth with 26 points. The men’s and women’s teams combined for 20 entries at the event, sixth best in the nation.
Along with the conference team title, individual Big 12 titles were in abundance for OU athletes as they combined to capture nine conference crowns, four indoors and five outdoors.
Three athletes recorded indoor/outdoor sweeps in their respective disciplines as Ronnie Ash (60- and 110-meter hurdles), Karen Shump (shot put) and Singh (weight and hammer throws) earned distinction as the Big 12’s best in both seasons.
Salaam joined the Big 12 fray during the indoor season by claiming first in the 60-meter dash while the throws ring produced two outdoor titles in Borman (discus) and Amy Backel (javelin).
Smith’s group of men’s distance runners combined to break four program records in 2010 as Jacob Boone (indoor 1,500-meter run), Williams (indoor 5,000-meter run), Jeremy Sudbury (indoor 10,000-meter run) and Sorrell (3,000-meter run) all ran program bests.
Boone and Eric Harasyn both advanced to the NCAA Indoor Championships in the mile where Harasyn claimed All-American honors while Kevin Schwab competed in the 10,000-meter run at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Off the track and in the classroom, both teams received All-Academic status by the USTFCCCA with the OU women’s team recording the nation’s highest GPA and 10 athletes were named to the organization’s All-Academic Team.
The fall of 2009 saw Smith and his OU cross country charges record their best season yet as the men’s team recorded its highest finish ever at the Big 12 Championships when it took third. The group followed that up with a second-place finish at the NCAA Midwest Regional before finishing 12th at the NCAA Championships.
Three Sooners, Schwab, Sorrell and Kogel, claimed All-Big 12 honors as Kogel was named the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year. The trio, along with Sudbury, were also named All-Midwest Region.
| The Smith File
|| Alexandria, Va.
|| B.A., History and Political Science
Bridgewater College, 1974
|| wife, Renee
| Coaching History
| 2005-present, University of Oklahoma
Head Coach - Track & Field/Cross Country
| 2003-05, University of Oregon
Director of Track & Field/Cross Country
| 1998-2003, University of Oregon
Head Coach - Men's Track & Field/Cross Country
| 1983-98, University of Wisconsin
Head Coach - Men's Cross Country
Assistant Coach - Men's Track & Field
| 1980-83, University of Virginia
Head Coach - Cross Country
Assistant Coach - Track & Field
| 1979-80, George Mason University
Head Coach - Men's Cross Country
Assistant Coach - Men's Track & Field
| 1975-79, Oakton (Va.) High School
Head Coach - Men's Indoor Track & Field
Assistant Coach - Men's Cross Country/Outdoor T&F
| Coaching Accolades
| Two-time NCAA Cross Country Coach of the Year
| Six-time Big Ten Cross Country Coach of the Year
(1989, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996)
| 2002 Pac-10 Track & Field Coach of the Year
| 2007 Big 12 Outdoor Track & Field Coach of the Year
| 2007 Midwest Region Men's Coach of the Year
| 2010 Big 12 Indoor Men's Coach of the Year
| 2010 Midwest Region Men's Coach of the Year
| 2011 Midwest Region Men's Coach of the Year
| Has coached a total of 281 All-Americans
| National Championships Coached
|| Women's Indoor Track (AIAW)
|| Women's Cross Country
|| Women's Cross Country
|| Men's Cross Country
|| Men's Cross Country
The spring of 2009 gave Smith an additional 13 All-Americans and an NCAA champion as freshman Will Claye claimed the NCAA outdoor title in the triple jump. Claye would combine with fellow newcomer Luke Bryant to pick up Big 12 outdoor titles while Ti’Anca Mock swept the conference long jump titles.
Smith’s distance group broke two program records in `09 as Boone ran Oklahoma’s first ever sub-four minute mile with a time of 3:59.07 at the Meyo Invitational and teamed with Cooper, Jarell Warren and Chris Sweeney on the distance medley relay that finished 10th at the NCAA Championships after breaking the program record with a time of 9:31.38 at the Alex Wilson Invitational.
Boone closed out the 2009 indoor season by earning All-America honors in the mile with an eighth-place finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
In 2008, Smith once again hit double digits in All-Americans as 10 athletes earned the honor. The season was also highlighted by a combined four Big 12 titles from hurdler Latoya Greaves and triple jumper Shardae Boutte.
The 2007 season came as a surprise to the track and field world as all six men’s and women’s cross country, indoor track and field, and outdoor track and field teams improved on their previous finishes.
The men’s team shocked the conference when it won its first Big 12 Outdoor Championship title, the team’s first conference championship since 1978. It was Smith’s 25th conference championship as a head or assistant coach on the Division I level. The team didn’t rest on its laurels, winning its first Midwest Region title two weeks later.
Accolades swarmed to Smith, who was named Big 12 Men’s Outdoor Track and Field Coach of the Year and the Midwest District and Region Men’s Head Coach of the Year by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
In all, 16 Sooners combined for 22 NCAA All-America honors during the year - the most Smith has coached in a single season.
Oklahoma took a program-record 22 athletes to the NCAA Outdoor Championships. The 14 Sooner men who competed represented the largest number from a single men’s team in 2007. The postseason proved to be successful, too, as Kevin Snyder won the U.S. Junior National high jump crown and earned a silver medal at the Junior Pan American Games.
Smith’s first season, in 2006, saw exceptional development as the women’s team tied for fourth overall at the Big 12 Indoor Championships and the men’s team finished fifth outdoors, both program-best finishes at the time.
Under Smith, Jessica Eldridge became only the sixth Sooner woman to earn All-America honors in cross country and the first since 1994, when she finished 18th at the NCAA Championships in the fall of 2006. Eldridge also posted the best ever finish by a Sooner at the Big 12 Championships when she ran fourth.
Smith, who has coached five national championship teams during a 30-year tenure on the NCAA Division I level, became the University of Oklahoma’s sixth head track and field coach in June 2005.
Smith has been head cross country coach or head cross country and track and field coach at George Mason, Virginia, Wisconsin and Oregon, where he was director of men’s and women’s track and field and cross country from 2003 through March 2005. He was men’s track & field and cross country head coach at UO from 1998-2003 before assuming control of all track and field/cross country programs.
“This is a very exciting day for our track & field and cross country programs,” OU Director of Athletics Joe Castiglione said upon his hiring. “Martin Smith has earned the respect and admiration of many throughout the national and international track and field communities. He has an impressive record of achievement everywhere he has been. His student-athletes excel both on and off the track and understand that the championship mentality can apply to all of their life’s pursuits.
“His professional and personal references led us to the conclusion that he is the person who can best represent the values of our program and can build a program of national stature. We look forward to having him join our Sooner family.”
Smith guided Oregon to nine NCAA top 20 team finishes, while mentoring individuals who claimed 48 All-America honors and 17 Pac-10 titles.
In his final season, the 2004-05 indoor campaign, Smith led the Duck men to a sixth-place finish at the NCAA meet, tops among the Pac-10 schools. UO sent nine qualifiers to the NCAA National Championships with eight earning All-America honors.
Oregon realized outdoor success under Smith, too. The men’s team was second, first and second in his last three Pac-10 meets and was ninth at the 2004 NCAAs.
Other strong finishes with the Ducks included a 13th place finish at nationals in the 2003 NCAA Outdoor and a 2003 men’s Pac-10 Outdoor title (the first for UO since 1993). In the fall of that school year, the Oregon cross country team was fifth at nationals.
The 2002 indoor men’s team was ninth at the NCAA Championships and Smith earned conference and region coach of the year honors. In 2001, Smith led Oregon’s men to a ninth-place finish at the NCAA Outdoors.
Prior to his move to Oregon, Smith spent 1983-98 coaching the men’s cross country team at Wisconsin, while serving as assistant men’s track and field coach.
He coached two men’s national championship cross country teams there (1985, 1988), and his teams won 12 Big Ten titles. Thirty-three of his runners were All-Americans and one was the national champion.
On the track, Smith helped UW to 10 NCAA top 20 finishes and nine Big Ten titles. He coached 49 NCAA All-Americans and 32 individual Big Ten champions.
Smith was head men’s and women’s cross country coach at Virginia from 1980-83. There he coached the women’s cross country team to national championships in 1981 and 1982. His first job in the college ranks came in 1979 when he served as men’s cross country coach and assistant men’s track and field coach at George Mason.
A native of Alexandria, Va., Smith attended Bridgewater College and graduated in 1974 with degrees in history and political science. He was married to Renee Schwister on Feb. 12, 1999, and Renee has one son, Ross.