Joe Sweeney has built one of NCAA Division III's most successful cross country and track and field programs. The 2019-20 seasons will be his 40th as St. Thomas head coach for women's cross country/track and field. He holds the record for longest tenured head coach in St. Thomas athletics history.
Sweeney’s teams have won a remarkable 84 of a possible 112 MIAC team championships in cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track through the 2018-19 academic year. That’s the most by any coach in Division III women’s sports.
Under Sweeney’s leadership, the Tommie women’s track and field team won its 15th consecutive MIAC outdoor title in 2019 and its 33rd in the last 35 years. The St. Thomas indoor team won the program’s 20th consecutive championship and 32nd in 35 seasons. UST cross country has won 17 of the 38 conference titles contested.
Sweeney was named the 1995 National Coach of the Year in track and field and been honored as MIAC Coach of the Year several times, most recently in 2016. A Chicago, Ill., native, Sweeney was a standout distance runner for the Tommies in the late 1970s and was elected into the St. Thomas Athletic Hall of Fame.
Joe and wife Kathleen reside in New Brighton and have raised five children.
Besides the St. Thomas successes in CC and on the track, Sweeney's teams have been excellent students and active members of the campus scene.
The UST achievements under Sweeney's guidance include:
--28 individual national championships (two in cross country, 26 in track & field)
--16 top-7 national team finishes in cross country (five championships, five runner-up finishes)
--The lone Minnesota university to win an NCAA women's track relay championship (4x100 in 1997; DM Relay indoors 2010, 2015 and 2016)
--More than 165 All-American honors in cross country and track & field
--Eleven CoSIDA Academic All-America honors, four NCAA Postgraduate Scholars
--Top-5 national team placings in cross country, indoor and outdoor track 28 times
--UST has had a cross country All-America or a team in the national meet 30 out of 39 seasons
--Five impressive MIAC consecutive team championship streaks – 20, indoor track (2000-present); 14, outdoor track (1985-98); 15, outdoor track (2004-present); 9, indoor track (1989-97); and 9, cross country (1981-89). The Toms also swept the MIAC "triple crown" for CC, indoor and outdoor track titles in 2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2016-17.
--The top individual finisher in five of the last 24 conference cross country meets
--St. Thomas track and field sent a women’s or men’s relay team into the finals at outdoor nationals a remarkable 34 consecutive years before the streak ended in 2016.