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NEWS: NC State Elevates NCAA Title-Winning Coach Laurie Henes to Director of Track & XC

Written by Gavin Struve, edits via Garrett Zatlin


Earlier today, NC State announced that women's distance coach, Laurie Henes, is being promoted to the program's Director of Track & Field and Cross Country role starting this upcoming academic year (2023-24).

In addition to her role as head coach of the women’s cross country team, Henes will now take the mantle of overseeing the Wolfpack’s track and field program in its entirety. Rollie Geiger, who recruited Henes as a student-athlete and has held the position for nearly 40 years, will stay on as the men’s head coach for cross country.

Henes’ ties in Raleigh, North Carolina run nearly as deep as Geiger’s. She won the 5k national title at the 1991 NCAA Outdoor Championships as a member of the Wolfpack and has been with the program in a coaching capacity since 1992.

In her latest role, she has been named USTFCCCA National Coach of the Year in 2021 and 2022. She was also named ACC Coach of the Year eight times.

Henes has played perhaps the most significant role in turning NC State into a modern-day distance dynasty, leading the Wolfpack women to both of their NCAA cross country national titles (in 2021 and 2022) and their only runner-up finish on the national stage during the 2021 NCAA Winter XC Championships.

Before breaking through to become a true national power, NC State had immense success on the conference stage under Henes. The Wolfpack women have amassed eight ACC team titles on the grass since she became the women’s head coach of cross country in 2006.

The program’s individual stars have also enjoyed just as much success as the overall team has. Henes has stockpiled NC State's women's program with elite talents, including four-time national champion Katelyn Tuohy, one of the most accomplished high school distance recruits in American history and one of the greatest collegiate distance runners ever.

In 2020, the NC State women were ranked as the top distance-centric recruiting class in the NCAA by The Stride Report. They also received a top-10 ranking in 2019 as well.

Henes’ daughter Elly, who is now a professional runner for Adidas, won the 5000 meter title at the 2021 NCAA Outdoor Championships while competing for NC State. She’s been joined by numerous individual All-Americans on the grass and the track across the past few seasons.

While admittedly expected, Henes' promotion to a Director role will prolong and solidify the Wolfpack women’s distance dynasty. This shifting of job titles may also be hinting at the eventual retirement of Rollie Geiger, the program's former Director who has been with the Wolfpack men and women since 1979.

The NC State men have been solid repeat qualifiers for the NCAA XC Championships in recent years. But despite a pleasantly surprising 11th place result on the national stage last fall, they are far from the near-podium lock that their female counterparts have proven to be.

Above all, Henes’ promotion puts one of the most accomplished and revered coaches in distance running in firm control of one of its most successful programs. It's a marriage that should continue to cause headaches for NC State’s conference and national competitors for years to come.


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