Saint Michael's College graduate Joe Connelly '87 returns for his 19th year as the College's men's cross country head coach in 2019.
Under Connelly's guidance, the Purple and Gold placed among the top five squads at a meet 54 times in his first 18 seasons, including doing so on three occasions in each 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2018. Connelly's team has placed in the top three at the Vermont Intercollegiate Championship 12 times and earned no worse than a top-eight showing at NCAA regional championships four times. During the 2003 season, Saint Michael's qualified its first runner for the NCAA Championship in program history, with Drew Best '04 competing in Cary, N.C.
The Purple Knights were fourth out of nine schools at Middlebury College's Aldrich Invitational in 2018 before capturing the runner-up spot in an eight-team field at the state championship at Northern Vermont University-Lyndon. They later turned in a 13th-place showing out of 36 schools from Division II and III at the James Earley Invitational. Saint Michael's took third place at back-to-back September races at Middlebury College in 2017, during the Aldrich Invitational and the Vermont Intercollegiate Championship. In a field comprised of 40 Division II and III squads, the Purple Knights were 14th during the James Earley Invitational.
The Purple Knights opened 2016 with a second-place finish at the four-team Shacklette Invitational, as they finished among the upper half of teams at nearly every meet. After placing seventh among 12 during the NCAA East Regional Championship Preview Meet and third out of nine at the Vermont Intercollegiate Championship, Saint Michael's was 21st of 41 at the multi-division James Earley Invitational. They were within nine points of 10th place during a 12th-place showing at the NE10 Championship but rebounded to take 14th among 28 at the NCAA East Regional Championship while also trimming a pair of teams they trailed at NE10s. Saint Michael's recorded consecutive top-15 regionals showings for the first time since 2010 and 2011.
After winning the four-team Vermont Technical College Invitational during their second meet of 2015, the Purple Knights earned back-to-back third-place showings, as hosts of the NE10 Preview Meet and during the Vermont Intercollegiate Championship. With the NE10 Championship on campus for the first time since 2009, the Purple and Gold took 10th, their best performance at the meet in seven seasons. Each of the team's top six finishers had an 8K PR. Saint Michael's then nabbed 13th among 30 schools at the NCAA East Regional Championship, its top finish there since 2011.
The Purple Knights matched their highest finish at the NE10 Championship in six years during 2014, nabbing 11th, while their 17th-place showing out of 30 squads at the NCAA East Regional Championship was their best since 2011. Six of the team's seven competitors set 10K PRs during the regional meet. Saint Michael's was second at Middlebury College's Aldrich Invitational in 2012, its best performance until winning the Vermont Technical College Invitational the following season. The Purple Knights earned four third-place showings in 2011, including at states, while tying for 12th out of 25 schools at regionals. A top-half finish at the NCAA East Regional Championship occurred in 2010, with the Purple Knights 14th among 29, and Saint Michael's hosted the NE10 Championship in 2008 and 2009, taking 10th and 11th, respectively. The Purple and Gold was second out of seven schools at the 2008 Panther Invitational.
Saint Michael's took third at the 2006 Cardinal Classic, one year after placing second out of seven schools among four top-three finishes during the season. The men took sixth among 14 as host of the NE10 Championship in 2004 before taking eighth out of 19 at the NCAA Northeast Regional Championship. In 2003, the year Best made history by qualifying for nationals, the Purple Knights won two meets en route to five top-three finishes. They took sixth at both NE10s and regionals. Saint Michael's was seventh at NE10s in 2001 and 2002.
Connelly, who has earned his USA Track & Field (USATF) Level 1 coaching certification, was also the head coach of the College's Nordic skiing program between 2001 and 2011.
Connelly is active in the local running community, serving as the Director of Race Operations for RunVermont, Inc., producer of the People's United Bank Vermont City Marathon, a Runner's World top 20 U.S. marathon, as well as the Race Director for the Half Marathon Unplugged and FirstRun Burlington.
A six time letter-winner at Saint Michael's in Nordic skiing and cross country, Connelly has run in 20 marathons, including 10 Boston Marathons. He has also competed in the U.S. Triathlon Series and has worked as a personal trainer for individuals who want to improve their long-distance running.
A native of Glenville, N.Y., Connelly competed in Nordic and Alpine skiing, golf and tennis at Scotia-Glenville High School. Prior to joining the coaching staff of Saint Michael's, Connelly was employed as an accountant in the long-term care and software industries.
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