Kinnunen named Coach of the Year Rob Kinnunen, the head coach for the women's cross country program at The University of South Dakota, has been named North Central Conference Women's Cross Country Coach of the Year, according to an announcement by the league office Oct. 24.
Kinnunen led the #10 ranked (as of Oct. 21) South Dakota women's cross country team to its first North Central Conference title on Oct. 19. The Coyotes placed four runners in the top 12 and outdistanced second-place South Dakota State 57 to 64. The coach of the year award is determined by a vote of NCC cross country coaches.
It is the second time that Kinnunen, who returned to the NCC to lead the Coyotes this season, has won the award on the women's side (also in 1989). He won the honor once on the mens side in 1991, both while coaching at Augustana.
"We are very happy about winning our first NCC women's title," Rob Kinnunen said following the meet on Saturday. "I am particularly proud of the determination showed by this squad over the last mile of the race. There were three teams with an opportunity to win, and the USD women showed their resiliency and heart to finish strong. Somehow, they found another gear and got it done," he said.
Originally of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada, Kinnunen was a cross country all-American at South Dakota in 1979. A 1981 graduate of USD (HPER, social science), he served as graduate assistant for Duane Schopp during the 1981-82 seasons at South Dakota. In 1982, he was named the head men's and women's cross country coach and women's track and field coach. In 1984, he left coaching to train for the Olympics marathon trials. He returned to coaching, taking a position with Augustana in January 1985.
Kinnunen served as head men's and women's cross country coach and assistant track and field coach at Augustana College until 1999. Kinnunen was NCC Women's Cross Country Coach of the Year in 1989 and NCC and NCAA regional men's Coach of the Year in 1991 when Augustana was ranked #1 in the nation and won the NCC and North Central Regional.
Kinnunen, a volunteer assistant for USD in 2000, took the head men's and women's track and field and cross country position at Mount Marty in August 2001. Kinnunen coached 65 NCAA Division II all-Americans and four national champions in middle distance and distance events while at Augustana College. Kinnunen was also the 1999 South Dakota Coaches Association cross-country coach of the year.