Muskegon Community College‘s Mike Smith has been named the National Junior Community College Athletic Association’s (NJCAA) 2018 Great Lakes Region Men’s Cross Country Coach of the Year.
The award was announced on Nov. 13, following the 2018 NJCAA Div. I Cross Country Championships held three days earlier in Garden City, KS, where the MCC men placed 21st in the nation and the Smith-led MCC women’s team took 15th nationally.
On Oct. 27, the Jayhawk men placed second in the Great Lakes Regional meet in Lansing with three Jayhawk runners – Mitch Johnson, Kyle Benham and Michael Hyatt – finishing among the top nine.
Smith, a Reeths-Puffer High School counselor, returned as MCC head coach this fall. In 2010, he restarted the Jayhawk men’s and women’s cross country programs. He coached the teams for two years and led both to the NJCAA nationals before turning over the coaching reins to Dan Fishel, who guided the Jayhawks for the next six seasons.
“Dan Fishel worked incredible hard to get the programs where they are at,” said Smith. “With the help and support from (Athletic Director) Marty McDermott, (Office Secretary) Colleen Morse, and (Assistant Athletic Director) Jimmy Booth, it makes coaching these Jayhawks a pleasure.”
“I just feel honored and blessed to have stepped back into coaching at MCC. Like I explained to the Jayhawks, the award is a representation of how hard they have worked. The guys’ team improved all season and it’s actually amazing how well they raced at nationals considering some of the injuries. It showed their determination and guts. They finished as the second fastest team time in MCC history.”
“The ladies actually ended up being the fastest team from the Great Lakes Region at nationals beating Lansing CC for the first time ever. The completed their season not only with the second fastest Jayhawk team time in history but also the second highest national finish for the Jayhawks.”
A Muskegon native, Smith has over 20 years of experience coaching Reeths-Puffer High School and Middle School track and cross country. He also led Whitehall High School cross country for three years. He has coached more than 20 all-state honorees and more than 20 conference and county team champions.
A Louisiana State University graduate, Smith competed in track and cross country at LSU. He won the SEC championship in the indoor three-mile run. He was a three-time NJCAA All-American while competing in track and cross country at Southwestern Michigan CC and qualified for the 1992 Olympic marathon trials.