| Jeff Pigg
In his fifth season at the helm of Florida's distance program, Jeff Pigg is seeing both the men's and women's programs make the strides he has been hoping for since coming to Gainesville in 2002. With more talented athletes headed to Gainesville, the 2006 season should be the most successful yet for the Florida distance program.
In 2005, the Gator men's team reached the NCAA Championships for the second year in a row, a first for the Florida program. The men received the program's first at-large bid to the NCAA Championships after a promising regular season that saw them consistently ranked in the nation's top 30. The Florida women again saw improvement, taking the team title at both the Mountain Dew Invitational and the Disney Classic and improving to a fifth place finish at the South Region Championship.
The 2004 season was the best yet for the Gators under Pigg, as the men's cross country team received an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships for the first time since 1997. While them women's team did not make the national meet, they did exceed everyone's expectations in their final conference and regional finishes.
In the spring of 2002, Florida Athletics Director Jeremy Foley decided to make an unprecedented move, when he decided it was time to add more focus to the UF Cross Country program. To accomplish this, he went searching for the program's first head coach. This coach would have to be able to lead both the mens and women's teams back to the NCAA championships in addition to working alongside the two other head coaches for the Florida Track & Field program during the indoor and outdoor seasons. Few, if any, other cross country coaches in the nation have the opportunity to focus strictly on their athletes.
Foley did not have to look far before finding a Florida alumnus with 15 years of coaching experience who has had a tremendous amount of success. Jeff Pigg returned to Gainesville in July 2002 to begin a new era for the cross country program. He has the credentials, proven results and most importantly, the vision to make Gator Cross Country one of the nation's elite programs.
"I felt it was time to put more of a focus on our cross country program," Foley said upon Pigg's hire. "A coach whose main focus is strictly cross country should be able to take the program to where we feel it needs to be. Jeff Pigg has the background and experience to make both the men's and women's cross country teams successful on a national level."
Pigg got a good start on his goals during the 2002 season, with the men's team making one of their best showings in several years at the South Region Championships. Both teams steadily improved their times throughout the season and learned to run as a team, with pack spread of less than a minute nearly all season. The improvement continued through 2003 as nearly every member of both team's saw personal best times improve. The men's team also had its first NCAA qualifier under Pigg as Steve Zieminski automatically qualified as an individual.
Pigg returns to Gainesville from Normal, Ill., where he spent two years as the Head Track & Field and Cross Country coach at Illinois State University. In his first season, he guided the men's cross country team to its first Missouri Valley Conference title in eight years and was voted the Valley's Coach of the Year. Four athletes earned All-Missouri Valley Conference honors and three were named to the Valley Scholar-Athlete team. The indoor track and field and cross country seasons brought more success. Redbird middle distance and distance athletes earned five indoor conference titles and four outdoor titles. In 2001, Stacia Beste took the Missouri Valley Women's Cross Country title, and the Redbird distance crew won two more indoor and three outdoor Valley titles. Senior Christian Goy capped his indoor eligibility by taking the NCAA indoor mile title. Beste finished her career earning All-America honors by placing eighth in the outdoor 10,000 at the NCAA Championships in Baton Rouge.
Pigg was no stranger to coaching success before going to Illinois State. He spent 10 productive years as an assistant coach and head cross country coach at the University of Missouri from 1990-2000. In his decade at Missouri he guided 25 athletes to All-America honors and numerous Big 12 titles. His women's cross country teams automatically qualified for the NCAA Championships five times and the men qualified three times. In 1992, Pigg coached Susan Bliss who earned All-America honors for a third place finish at the NCAA Cross Country Championships. She also was the Midwest Regional individual champion in 1992. The MU women won the Midwest Regional every year from 1995-97 and Rebecca Davis and Erin Windler were the 1996 and 1997 individual champions. Pigg received Midwest Region Coach of the Year honors each of those three seasons as well.
The 1998-99 season was a great one for Pigg and the Tiger distance and mid-distance athletes. Pigg guided the men and women's cross country teams both to the NCAA Championships for the first time in school history. He also coached his first NCAA champion, as Derrick Peterson won both the indoor and outdoor 800m and also became the American Collegiate record holder in that same event. In all, the Tigers earned 37 All-Big 12 Conference honors in distance and middle distance events that season. From 1990-2002 Pigg coached 27 All-American athletes at both Missouri and Illinois State. In 1999 Pigg was rewarded for his accomplishments by his peers by being voted as one of the assistant coaches for the United State Pan-American Games team in 1999.
Pigg also puts a lot of emphasis on academics. His women's cross country teams from 1994-2001 at both Missouri and Illinois State were named Academic All-America teams. He has had numerous athletes earn multiple academic all-conference honors in both the Big 12 and Missouri Valley Conferences.
Prior to going to Missouri, Pigg spent a year as the head track & field coach at Gainesville High School. He also was an assistant coach for the Gator track & field program from 1989-90. In his first coaching stint with the Gators, Pigg worked with several All-Americans and helped guide Florida to a second place team finish at the 1989 NCAA Indoor Championships.
A 1988 graduate of the University of Florida, Pigg was a member of UF's cross country and track and field teams that earned the SEC triple crown in 1987. He earned Cross Country All-Southeastern Conference honors in the fall of 1985 and was named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll in 1987. He had 10 top ten-10 finishes in cross country races in his career as a Gator and still ranks on several of the school's cross country top 10 lists. He earned two All-America honors and eight All-SEC honors in both cross country and track. He won the SEC indoor mile twice in his career as a Gator. Pigg began his collegiate career at Missouri before transferring to Florida. In two seasons at Missouri, Pigg earned eight All-Big Eight honors. In the spring of 1985 he set a conference record and was an All-American in the 1,000-yard run.
Pigg and his wife, Vicki have two daughters, Olivia, 9, and Liberty, 3, and a son, Cole, 7
The Pigg File
Date of Birth: 12/8/1963
Hometown: Rogersville, Mo.
Education: Bachelor of Science in Health and Human Performance, University of Florida, 1988
Family: Wife, Vicki; daughters, Olivia, 6 and Liberty, born July 1, 2002; son, Cole, 4
As an athlete:
1983-85 - University of Missouri Cross Country and Track & Field Athlete
- Five All-Big Eight honors
- 1985 Set big Eight Conference record, 1000-yard run
- 1985 All-America, 1000-yard run
1985-87 - University of Florida Cross Country and Track & Field Athlete
- Two All-America honors and eight All-Southeastern Conference honors
- 1987 All-Southeastern Conference Honor Roll
- 1986-87 SEC Indoor Mile Champion
As a coach:
1988 - Gainesville High School, Head Track & Field Coach
1989-90 - University of Florida, Assistant Men's Track & Field Coach
- Team 2nd at NCAA Indoor Championships
1990-2000 - University of Missouri, Head Cross Country/Assistant Track & Field Coach
- 1995-99 Women's Cross Country team automatically qualified for NCAA Championships
- 1995-97 Midwest Regional Women's Cross Country champions
- 1994-1999 Women's Cross Country named Academic All-America Team
- 1998-2000 Men's Cross Country qualified for NCAA Championships
- 1995-97 NCAA Midwest Region Women's Cross Country Coach of the Year
- 1992 coached third place individual at NCAA Cross Country Championships
- 1992, 1996-97 NCAA Midwest Region Individual Women's Cross Country Champion
- 1999 NCAA Indoor and Outdoor men's 800m champion
- 1999 coached American Collegiate 800m recordholder
- 25 All-Americans
1999 - United States Pan-American Games Team, Men's Assistant Coach
2000-2002 - Illinois State University, Head Track & Field Coach
- 2000 Missouri Valley Men's Cross Country Champions
- 2000 Missouri Valley Cross Country Coach of the Year
- 2000-2001 Women's Cross Country named Academic All-America team
- 2002 men's NCAA Indoor Mile Champion