UMSL announces addition of cross country and track and field, names Steve Picucci head coach
The University of Missouri–St. Louis will begin sponsoring men’s and women’s cross country and men’s and women’s track and field as NCAA sports beginning with the 2020-21 academic year, with Steve Picucci to serve as head coach, Director of Athletics Lori Flanagan announced today.
The addition of the programs, which also includes indoor track and field, will increase the university’s total number of varsity sports to 19. The teams will compete in the Great Lakes Valley Conference. UMSL was previously the only league member not to sponsor those sports.
Men’s cross country was previously an intercollegiate sport at UMSL, having been part of the athletic program from 1967-1983.
“We are excited about being able to provide additional opportunities to compete in intercollegiate athletics at UMSL,” Flanagan said. “By expanding our sports offerings, we can cater to the current student population at UMSL, while also reaching new student-athletes.”
Flanagan said the five-year plan for implementation is centered around the recruitment and training of the distance runner, with the cross country program being established initially. Over time, once that base is established, the addition of the short distances, along with the field events, will be added.
“It’s an honor to name Steve as the University’s first cross country and track and field coach,” Flanagan said. “His experience and success speaks for itself, but even more impressive is the vision and plan he has for our programs. We know he is excited to be here and we look forward to what Steve brings to UMSL.”
Picucci comes to UMSL from Morehead State, where he spent five years as the head cross country and track and field coach.
“It is an honor to be selected as the first-ever head coach for cross country and track and field at the University of Missouri-St. Louis,” Picucci said. “I would like to thank the University administration for allowing me the opportunity to join the UMSL family. I am excited to build this program from the ground up, and while I know it will take time, I am confident we can build highly competitive programs in the GLVC and the Midwest Region in the near future. My family and I are thrilled to be heading to St. Louis and look forward to getting to know the area as well as the wonderful people at UMSL and in the city of St. Louis.”
In five seasons at Morehead State, the track program established 12 school records, won two Ohio Valley Conference individual track championships and had three NCAA East Region qualifiers, including the first qualifier in school history in 2016 with Desmond Bell.
In his first year, Picucci guided the Morehead State men to a second place finish at the 2014 OVC Cross Country Championship, the program’s highest placing since 2006. They repeated that feat, finishing second, in 2017. The men also finished third in 2015.
Prior to his appointment at Morehead State, Picucci spent six years at his alma mater, Ferris State, where he mentored 32 All-Americans and 85 national qualifiers.The Division II Midwest Region Coach of the Year in 2012, Picucci directed the FSU programs to 11 top-25 and three top-10 national finishes.
Picucci served as his alma mater’s interim head coach for one season before being elevated to full-time head coach in 2009-10. He began his coaching career as a volunteer assistant at Ferris State in 2007-08.Under Picucci’s tutelage, Ferris State garnered 114 All-Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) honors in track and field. He coached 18 All-Midwest Region athletes and helped guide three to regional titles in cross country. Three cross country athletes also won conference championships.
Picucci led the women’s cross country program to five consecutive NCAA Championship appearances and men to two berths in the championship – the women’s program’s first appearances since 1987 and men’s program’s first appearances since 1985.
He was the first four-year letterwinner in cross country and track and field at FSU since the program was reinstated in 1999-2000. He was a three-time team Most Valuable Runner. Picucci earned 11 GLIAC All-Academic awards in his career and was named all-conference in cross country in 2002. He was FSU’s top finisher in 20 of 29 races.
On the track, Picucci recorded nine top-eight finishes as a senior in 2003.He was named College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) First-Team Academic All-District in 2003 and also earned a Division II Cross Country Coaches Association All-Academic Team accolade in 2001.
The native of Brighton, Michigan, earned his bachelor’s degree in automotive engineering technology from Ferris State in 2003 and his master’s degree in sport management from Morehead State in 2018. He is a member of the United States Track & Field Cross Country Coaches Association.
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