Courtesy of Ole Miss Athletics
Ole Miss track & field and cross country associate head coach Ryan Vanhoy has been named the USTFCCCA South Region Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year, the association announced Tuesday.
Since the current regional format began in 1998, this marks the 17th total time nationally a coach has ever swept the regional men’s and women’s cross country awards, and it makes Vanhoy the eighth coach to do so alongside J.J. Clark (Stanford, West Region: 2021, 2020), Alex Gibby (Harvard, Northeast Region: 2021, 2019), Mark Wetmore (Colorado, Mountain Region: 2004, 2005, 2006, 2014), Chris Fox (Syracuse, Northeast Region: 2009, 2011), Joe Franklin (New Mexico, Mountain Region: 2010), Ray Treacy (Providence, Northeast Region: 1998, 2004) and Vin Lananna (Stanford, West Region: 1999, 2001, 2002). Vanhoy is the first to ever sweep the South Region.
This is the seventh total South Region Coach of the Year award for Vanhoy during the cross country season, his fifth with the Rebel men after previous wins in 2016, 2018, 2019 and 2020, and his second with the women after winning in 2017.
Vanhoy’s Rebel squads are coming off another historic season in 2021, with the Rebel women notching their first top-10 national finish in program history in 10th place and the men their third-best ever in 15th. Both squads swept the South Region team titles, becoming the first school to do so since Florida State in 2012. Both teams also finished runner-up at the SEC Championships, with the women coming their closest ever to an SEC title, falling to Arkansas by just 15 points.
The Rebel women had an extraordinary 2021 season, which was capped off by that 10th place finish at the NCAA Championships. After having never qualified prior to 2016, the Rebel women have now qualified six straight years and have broken their record for best national finish in each of the last four years.
Sintayehu Vissa led the group with an incredible season that saw her become the first All-American in Ole Miss women’s cross country history (33rd place), in addition to leading the squad with a fifth-place South Regional finish for All-Region honors and a sixth-place First-Team All-SEC finish at the conference meet – the best individual SEC finish ever for the Rebel women. Throughout the season, the Ole Miss women also set program bests with a No. 11 national ranking in Week Five and a No. 9 slot entering the national meet.
The Rebel men finished another strong season with a 15th-place at the NCAA Championships, and were led by seniors Michael Coccia (43rd) and Mario Garcia Romo (46th). Both posted huge 10K improvements both at the national meet and the NCAA South Regional, where they led a program-best group of seven All-Region runners en route to their fifth South Region team title in the last seven years. Garcia Romo also had another strong season, finishing as the SEC bronze medalist – which, when combined with his 2020 SEC title marks the best back-to-back individual SEC finishes by a Rebel since Barnabas Kirui won in both 2009 and 2010.
Vanhoy – who is in his ninth season at Ole Miss and seventh as associate head coach – has coached the Rebels to 14 total national team berths since 2014, eight total All-Americans, seven NCAA South Region titles, 61 NCAA All-South Region honorees, two SEC team titles (2018 men, 2019 men) and 34 All-SEC runners. In total, Ole Miss stands as one of just four schools nationally to have both men’s and women’s teams finish top-25 at each of the last six NCAA Championship meets alongside BYU, Colorado and Stanford.