K-State distance runner had unique path to Manhattan
Michael Smith is entering his 19th year as a member of the coaching staff at K-State and eighth year at the helm of the men's and women's cross country teams. Since arriving in Manhattan in 1994, Smith has played an integral role in the success of the K-State cross country and track & field teams in the Big 12 Conference and at the NCAA Championships. During his tenure, he has helped establish the women's cross country team as a force on the national level. The Wildcats have won three women's championships in the Big 12 Conference and earned their highest ever women's NCAA team finish in cross country (5th).
In 2011, Smith guided Martina Tresch to a 47th place finish at the NCAA Championship. Tresch had five finishes in the top 12, including four in the top ten. Tresch finished second at the Wichita State Classic, 10th at the Roy Griak Invitational, 12th at the Pre-NCAA Invitational, ninth at the Big 12 Championships, and eighth at the Midwest Regional Championships. Due to her great season, Tresch was named to the 2011 Cross Country All-Region Team.
In 2010, the women's cross country team returned to the NCAA Championship with an at-large bid finishing 25th, ahead of a number of teams ranked higher going into the race. In 2009, Smith guided Beverly Ramos to one of the best women's individual seasons in recent memory as Ramos received All-America honors. Ramos tallied two wins and also placed sixth at the Pre-NCAA Invitational, Big 12 Championship and NCAA Midwest Regional. Her finish at 33rd at the NCAA Championship made her the school's ninth All-American in cross country. Ramos helped guide the teamto another sixth-place finish at the 2008 Big 12 Championship and ninth at the Midwest Regional. He guided another Wildcat to an individual showing at the NCAA Cross Country Championship in 2011 with Martina Tresch finishing 45th overall in her junior campaign.
As the assistant cross country coach at K-State from 1994-2004, Smith was instrumental in the success enjoyed by the women's and men's cross country teams. During that time period the K-State women won the 1998 Big 12 title in Lincoln, captured three consecutive Midwest Regional titles (1998, 1999, 2000) and garnered NCAA finishes of 13th, 5th and 10th (1998-2000). The Big 12 women's victory in 1998 was the only Big 12 cross country team title not won by the University of Colorado until Texas Tech's win in 2008.
Smith took over the reins of the cross country programs in 2004 and guided Mathew Chesang to one of K-State's most outstanding individual cross country seasons in recent memory. Chesang finished third at the Big 12 championships, second at the Midwest Regional Championships and capped off his senior season with an All-American performance at the NCAA championships. Chesang's 12th-place finish was the highest NCAA placing for a Wildcat male since Jerome Howe's 10th place finish in 1971, and the first Wildcat men's cross country All-American since 1992.
Under Smith's leadership on the track, the Wildcat mid-distance/distance group has launched a steady advance into the top 10 all-time performances on the K-State honor rolls, won multiple Big 12 titles and earned numerous All-America certificates. Smith's athletes have won 14 conference championships and set four Big 12 meet records. The 2009 season was highlighted by Jason Collett's All-American performance in the 800M. During the 2006 season Christian Smith won the indoor NCAA mile title, set the collegiate record in the 1000M run (2:19.57) and captured his third consecutive Big 12 title in the 1000M run. During the outdoor campaign Smith won his first Big 12 outdoor title in the 800M run and earned his first NCAA outdoor All-American certificate. Smith's season continued into the summer where he finished fifth at the USATF Championships in the 1500M run and then went to Europe where he ran 1:44.86 for 800 meters and 3:38.10 for 1500 meters, erasing two Wildcat legends from the record books in Ken Swenson and Jerome Howe.
In addition to coaching the current group of K-State middle and long distance runners, Smith has tutored a number of Wildcats in their post-collegiate careers including 2005 K-State alumna Lysaira Roman Del Valle, the 2006 bronze medalist at the Ibero-American Championships in the 800M (2:03.76) and 2006 Central American Games bronze medalist at 1500M (4:21.84). Smith also coached 2003 alumnus Roberto Carvajal, the 2003 Mexican national champion in the 110-meter high hurdles (14.07) and 2004 Mexican national champion in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles (50.31) while he trained as a post-collegian at K-State.
The highlight of Smith's post-collegiate coaching career came in 2008 when Christian Smith qualified for the Beijing Olympic Games. Christian Smith finished third in a dramatic diving photo-finish at the Olympic Trials to become K-State's newest Olympian.
He again saw a former Wildcat reach the sport's top level this summer when he coached Beverly Ramos to qualifying for the Olympic Games in London in the steeplechase. Ramos represented her native Puerto Rico and is tthe current national record holder in the event as well.
In addition to his coaching duties, Smith currently serves as an instructor for the USATF Level II coaching education program in the endurance events and has been a clinician at numerous track and field and cross country clinics. Prior to arriving in Manhattan in 1994, Smith spent two years at Skyline High School in California and one season at the William Penn Charter High School in Philadelphia (Pa.).
A native of Ridgefield, Connecticut, Smith graduated from Bucknell University (1988) with a bachelor's degree in animal behavior. He went on to earn an M.A. in geography from the State University of New York at Albany (1989), and an M.S. degree in Kinesiology from Kansas State (1996). Smith is married to Jill Wise Smith. The couple has three children Sydney, Aidan, and Jackson.