Tommie Sports - Men's Cross Country

MCC's Larry Russ gets coaching Hall of Fame honor

November 09, 2010

Group pic
Four legends of UST cross country gathered last week to celebrate Coach Larry Russ' induction into the USA Track and Field Minnesota Hall of Fame -- (L-R) Tom Faust, Russ, Jeff Hyman, Nic Manciu.

Former St. Thomas cross country and track and field coach Larry "Doc" Russ has been inducted into the USATrack and Field Minnesota Hall of Fame.

One of the wise moves athletic director Frank Mach made in his early years came in 1969 when he hired Russ as cross country and track coach. A practicing chiropractor with limited coaching experience, Russ gradually built UST into a national cross country power until he retired in 1993.   He coached track and field until 1980, when Mark Dienhart replaced him. The Tommie programs made huge strides in the 1970s under Russ.

Russ' 1984 and 1986 men's cross country teams won the NCAA Division III team championships, and his 1985 team won the National Catholic Championship meet by outrunning Division I schools Villanova and Notre Dame. Russ coached 23 All-Americans, led by 1982 national champion Nic Manciu. Russ' teams qualified for nationals 17 out of 18 years from 1975 to 1992, and placed in the D-III top seven 11 times from 1978 to 1990.

In MIAC competition, Russ' 1974 team won St. Thomas' first conference title in 29 seasons. The Tommies won the conference again from 1978 to 1980, then won 10 in a row from 1984 to 1993. Russ had five MIAC individual champions.

"Winning a national championship takes your breath away," Russ said. "What those kids did for the school was something. You remember the day you were looking at the strong MIAC teams like Hamline, Macalester and St. John's and wondering how you're ever going to break into that company. It took awhile but we started getting a few of the elite runners; then it just took off from there. If you get the horses, they can make a coach look pretty good."

Then Governor Arnie Carlson proclaimed Jan. 30, 1993 as , Dr. Larry "Doc" Russ Day upon his retirement.


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