There were numerous non-transfer developments that unfolded as we were releasing our Preseason XC Individual Rankings. Naturally, we wanted to get caught up on all of the recent headlines below before we begin our preseason team rankings...
Louisville Hires Baylee Mires From Florida State, Rylee Penn to Join as Grad Transfer
Last month, The Stride Report received notice from one source that Louisville was eyeing Baylee Mires to be the team's assistant distance coach. And sure enough, last week, the Cardinals announced Mires' hiring.
It is not yet clear to The Stride Report if there is a specific side of Louisville's distance roster (men vs women) that Mires will work with.
Mires, who was previously the women's distance coach at Florida State, will now join the Cardinals' newest Director of Track and Field and Cross Country, Joe Franklin, and attempt to build the ACC program into a nationally competitive distance squad.
By simply landing Mires as the team's next distance coach, the Cardinals have also been able to add a top-level name to their 2023-24 roster. In this case, I am talking about former Cincinnati runner, Rylee Penn.
Penn, a breakout middle distance runner from this past year, was originally set to join the Seminoles later this year. But with the development of Mires leaving Tallahassee for Louisville, the former Bearcat switched her future allegiance to the Kentucky-based program.
Mires, who was a former pro runner for both Brooks and Under Armour, was able to assemble a fairly competitive group of women during her years at Florida State. The Seminoles qualified for the 2022 NCAA XC Championships last fall where they placed 18th overall. They also saw Alyson Churchill find major success this past spring as a nationally competitive 5k talent.
It is not yet clear who will replace Mires at Florida State.
John Oliver Leaves Purdue to Join Oklahoma State as Assistance Distance Coach, Josh Langley Elevated to Associate Head Coach
In one of the more surprising coaching developments of the summer, Purdue's head cross country coach, John Oliver, has opted to join Oklahoma State as the Pokes' newest assistant distance coach.
In turn, Josh Langley will now become the program's newest associate head coach.
While some years were better than others, Oliver was able to find national-caliber success from his distance runners over the last few years, specifically on the men's side.
Under Oliver, the Boilermaker men qualified for both the 2018 and the 2019 NCAA XC Championships. 2018 was their first appearance as a team on that stage since 1986.
We also saw the rise of top low-sticks such as Curt Eckstein, Jaret Carpenter and Brody Smith during that time. That group helped the Purdue men finish 11th overall at the 2019 cross country national meet.
It is unclear to The Stride Report why Oliver left his head distance role at Purdue to pursue an assistant distance coaching role at Oklahoma State.
South Carolina Hires Brock Moreaux as Team's Next Distance Coach
Earlier this summer, it was announced that former Kentucky sprints coach, Tim Hall, was taking over the Director role at the University of South Carolina. As a result, the Gamecocks' former distance coach, Andrew Allden, is no longer with the program.
In his place, South Carolina has hired Brock Moreaux from the University of New Orleans.
Moreaux began his time with the Privateers in 2018 as the assistant head coach before moving up to an associate head coaching role. Eventually, he earned a full head coaching position during the 2022-23 academic calendar year.
During his at the Louisiana-based university, Moreaux guided his women's cross country team to their first-ever Southland team title last fall. At the 2022 South Central Regional XC Championships, the New Orleans men and women both placed 6th overall, team records for both squads at that regional meet.
Moreaux will now join a Gamecock distance program that has been recently headlined by international distance stars such as Anass Essayi, Silan Ayyildiz and Sylvia Chelangat.
However, on the grass, the South Carolina women have struggled to remain competitive. The Gamecocks have finished near or at the bottom of the standings at the SEC XC Championships over the past decade with their highest finish being 9th place in 2012.
There is no men's cross country team at South Carolina.
Georgia Hires Tom Chorny (via Miami (OH)) as Next Distance Coach
Following the departure of distance coach Pat Henner, who has been rumored to now be coaching recently-signed Adidas pro, Will Sumner (which is unconfirmed), the Bulldogs have since hired Tom Chorny as their next distance coach.
Chorny is venturing to Athens, Georgia from Miami (OH), a distance program that has had plenty of underrated success in recent years. Between Finley McLear, Chris Torpey, Sean Torpey, Anthony Carmerieri, Charles Harders and numerous others, the RedHawks have been able to develop strong, national-caliber talents on the men's side of their roster.
On the women's side, Miami (OH) has also been responsible for producing runners such as Carmen Riano and Ava Nuttall. Those two women have been national meet qualifiers on the track. Riano was also a cross country national meet qualifier last fall.
Coach Tom Chorny will now oversee a Georgia distance program that has, admittedly, held a secondary emphasis to the Bulldogs' sprints, jumps and hurdles groups. Last fall, the Georgia men finished 9th at the SEC XC Championships while the women placed 13th. At the 2021 iteration of the meet, the men finished 8th and the women placed 12th.
Milton Mallard No Longer Listed On Texas A&M Roster, Was Previously the Aggies' 800 Meter Coach
Milton Mallard, the former 800 meter coach at Texas A&M, is no longer listed on the Aggies' roster for the 2023-24 academic year. Mallard was a highly accomplished coach when it came to developing elite talents over the half-mile distance.
All-time 800 meter stars such as Athing Mu, Brandon Miller, Jazmine Fray, Devin Dixon and Sammy Watson were all trained by Mallard during their time in College, Station. Everyone from that group also turned pro. A handful of other highly-touted half-mile specialists also thrived under Mallard, including recent standout Sam Whitmarsh.
It is unclear to The Stride Report why Mallard is no longer with Texas A&M.
Annie Richards Joins App State as Newest Women's Distance Coach
Following the hiring of Brad Herbster from the University of Pittsburgh, who joined App State last month as the team's newest men's distance coach, the Mountaineers have hired Annie Richards to be the team's next women's distance coach.
Richards previously worked as an assistant coach / middle distance coach at the University of New Mexico in 2022. The former Lobo coach previously worked under Joe Franklin who recently took a Director role at Louisville.
The newest women's distance coach at App State also worked at the University of Oregon for two years as a volunteer coach.
When it comes to cross country, the App State women have had respectable teams within the Sun Belt Conference. Last fall, the Mountaineer women faded to 5th place at the 2022 Sun Belt XC Conference Championships. However, they were the runner-up team at that meet in 2021. The last conference team title that the App State women won in cross country came back in 2012.
Now, under the direction of Coach Annie Richards, the Mountaineers will aim to bolster their roster and find greater firepower that can help them, eventually, compete for conference titles. Luckily, for the 2023 cross country season, the Mountaineer women are expected to return four of their top-five scorers from last fall.
Former High School Standout Judy Pendergast Joins Tennessee As Assistant Distance Coach
Tennessee has recently added former Harvard assistant distance coach, Judy Pendergast, to their staff as an assistant distance coach. Pendergast previously worked with the Crimson men and women for one year.
During her time in the NCAA, Pendergast found varying levels of success between her time at Oregon and Harvard. She did, however, run 15:52 for 5000 meters and make numerous appearances on the national stage.
In high school, Pendergast was one of the most highly sought-after distance recruits in the nation. As a prep runner, the Oregon native held a personal best of 10:07 (3200) and was a top-10 finisher at both the NXN Championships and the Foot Locker XC National Championships in the fall of 2015.
Emily Venters Turns Pro, Signs With Nike & Will Join Union Athletic Club
Earlier this week, Utah standout Emily Venters announced that she has signed a pro contract with Nike and will be joining the professional training group, Union Athletics Club (UAC).
The signing comes after Venters' former Utah teammate, Simone Plourde, signed with Nike and UAC earlier this summer. Now, the two former Utes will reunite as pro teammates.
Venters' collegiate running career got off to a hot start, emerging as a cross country All-American during her freshman year at Boise State. But after a handful of health and personal challenges, as well as two separate transfers (one to Colorado and another to Utah), it was unclear if Venters would be able to reach a nationally competitive level again.
Luckily, Venters revived her career (and then some) during her time in Salt Lake City. At Utah, she earned four All-American honors and ran the NCAA #6 all-time mark over 10,000 meters with a time of 31:48. She was one of the national title favorites in the women's 10k earlier this year and settled for silver in that race before earning bronze over 5000 meters two days later.
Valery Tobias Turns Pro, Signs With Brooks & Will Join Brooks Beasts
The long-time Texas middle distance veteran is turning pro.
Valery Tobias, a four-time All-American over 800 meters with a 2:00.31 (800) personal best, has signed with Brooks. She will also be joining the Brooks Beasts professional training group. It should also be noted that Tobias has run as fast as 2:40 for 1000 meters.
In an era dominated by historically elite 800 meter runners, it's been Tobias who has shown tremendous consistency and an incredible ability to produce strong marks in the postseason.
Not only has she been able to rip off numerous All-American honors, but her times have improved from being nationally competitive to top-tier, effectively progressing with the natural growth of the event in the NCAA over recent years.
Tobias now joins Anna Gibson and Kayley DeLay, two former University of Washington runners, as recent pro signees for Brooks. Gibson is on an independent contract and is not expected to join the Brooks Beasts pro group while DeLay is expected to join the pro team.
With a historical emphasis towards the middle distance events, Tobias will be a natural fit for a pro group that is aiming to become more nationally competitive with the upper-tier portion of the women's 800 meter distance.
Mercy Chelangat Turns Pro, Signs With HOKA & Will Join NAZ Elite
Earlier today, HOKA NAZ Elite announced that they have signed former Alabama superstar, Mercy Chelangat, to a pro contract.
The former Crimson Tide ace was one of the more accomplished distance runners in the NCAA over the last few years. Not only did she win an individual cross country national title at the 2021 NCAA Winter XC Championships, but she also won the 2022 outdoor national title over 10,000 meters.
In total, Chelangat is a 10-time All-American who ran personal best times of 8:53 for 3000 meters, 15:17 for 5000 meters and 31:55 for 10,000 meters while at Alabama. On paper, her long distance strength should fit the historical identity of HOKA NAZ Elite, a pro group that has often emphasized aerobic-centric racing distances and the roads.
HOKA NAZ Elite's recent collegiate signees include Krissy Gear, Adriaan Wildschutt, Olin Hacker, Abby Nichols and Wesley Kiptoo.
Olivia Markezich Signs NIL Deal With On
Earlier today, Notre Dame superstar Olivia Markezich announced via Instagram that she has signed an NIL deal with On. The Swiss shoe company also signed Stanford ace Roisin Willis earlier this summer to an NIL deal and recently signed Tennessee standout Dylan Jacobs to a professional contract.
Markezich is coming off of a monster 2022-23 calendar year. She placed 8th at the 2022 NCAA XC Championships, helped her DMR squad earn a bronze medal before placing runner-up at the 2023 indoor national meet and later won the 2023 steeplechase national title in a time of 9:25.
The Fighting Irish standout would go on to the USA Outdoor Championships where she would run a jaw-dropping steeplechase time of 9:17 and place 4th overall. Going into the fall months, Markezich holds overall personal bests of 4:34 (mile), 8:50 (3k), 15:33 (5k) and 9:17 (steeple).
Last month, Markezich appeared on The Stride Report's interview series, Lane Nine.