Big Rapids, Mich. - Ferris State University head cross country coach Steve Picucci has been recognized for his efforts in leading the Bulldogs to the national championships as he was honored today (Nov. 7) as the 2012 United States Track and Field/Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Midwest Regional Men's Coach of the Year.
A former Bulldog standout himself, Picucci has guided the Bulldog men's cross country squad to its first national championships berth since 1985 following a third-place finish in the Midwest Regional Championships last Saturday (Nov. 3) in Kenosha, Wis.
Additionally, his women's cross country team also advanced to the national finals with an identical third-place regional performance and will be making their fifth consecutive appearance in the Division II National Championships on Nov. 17 in Joplin, Mo.
Now in his fifth year at the helm, Picucci has led both Bulldog programs to new heights since taking over as the program's head cross country along with track and field coach. The Bulldog women's cross country team ran to an eighth-place performance in the national team race last year that matched the Bulldogs' eighth-place finish at the 1981 National Championships and its showing in 2010 as the top efforts team-wise in Bulldog history.
Additionally, last year's second-place regional women's finish also matched the program's best showing from 2010 since claiming the Great Lakes Regional crown in 1987. It was one of the top three regional efforts in school history in addition to the Bulldogs' Great Lakes Regional victory in 1981.
Both teams have been nationally-ranked under Picucci's tenure with the women's squad ranked as high as third in the nation last season and seventh this campaign while the men's team will head into the 2012 national championships currently listed 13th in the country.
Picucci was tabbed the school's men's and women's cross country/track and field head coach on May 13, 2009. A Bulldog alum, Picucci served as the program's interim head coach in 2008-09 before moving into a permanent role. He originally joined the track/cross country staff as an assistant coach prior to the 2007-08 campaign.
In an interim role his initial season, Picucci guided the Bulldog women's cross country team to the program's first NCAA National Championship appearance since 1987. He's also had the distinction of coaching 11-time All-American Tina Muir, who wrapped up her Bulldog career last spring, and helped tutor severeal track and field student-athletes to indoor and outdoor All-America status in his tenure.
A four-year letterwinner in both cross country and men's track at Ferris State, Picucci was selected by the FSU Athletics Department as the 2002-03 recipient of the annual "Willie Bouyer Leadership Award" for his strong inspirational leadership and dedication to the program.
Picucci, who holds the special recognition of being the first four-year letterwinner in both men's cross country and track at Ferris State since each program's reinstatement in 1999-00, earned All-GLIAC Men's Cross Country Second-Team accolades in 2002. He registered conference all-academic team accolades a combined 11 times during his career in men's cross country along with indoor and outdoor track and field.
The three-time (1999-00 and 2002) FSU Men's Cross Country team's Most Valuable Runner Award winner notched five top-15 finishes during the 2002 campaign, including a 14th-place showing at the GLIAC Championships (10/26).
In track and field, Picucci compiled a personal career-best nine top-eight track and field performances during his senior year in 2003. He was selected the Ferris Track and Field squad's 2002-03 Bulldog Award recipient after previously earning the distinction in 2000-01. The two-time (2001-03) track and field team captain placed among the top 10 competitors in the distance events 16 times during his FSU career.
A 2002-03 Verizon Academic All-District IV College Division Men's Track & Field/Cross Country First-Team pick, Picucci twice (9/6 and 9/27) was named the GLIAC Men's Cross Country Runner of the Week in 2002 by virtue of claiming his first two individual championships - the Northwood Invitational (9/6) and FSU's Bulldog Invitational (9/27). The four-year (1999-03) team captain received 2001 NCAA Division II Cross Country Coaches Association All-Academic Team recognition and was Ferris State' s top finisher in 20 of his 29 collegiate cross country races.
Behind the scenes, Picucci served as a member of FSU Athletics' Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and coordinated the team's elementary school reading program during his collegiate career. He is a native of Brighton, Mich.