There is perhaps no single coach in the United States with a greater impact on young American distance runners than Vin Lananna. His legacy stretches from coast to coast, with both male and female athletes, from the conference level to the international arena. Over the last eleven seasons, Lananna has crafted a track & field/cross country empire at Stanford University, one that fields a national championship contender every season.
Stanford’s success in track & field has grown by quantum leaps over the last eleven years. In 2002, the Cardinal women finished seventh and the Cardinal men finished eighth at the NCAA Championships, only the second time in school history that both squads finished in the Top 10 at the NCAA’s. A school record 24 Stanford athletes competed at the Nationals, 13 gained All-America status and two were NCAA champions. In 2000, Stanford men’s team rose to the top of the podium with a dramatic victory at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, defeating eight-time national champion Arkansas. The success on the Pac-10 level has also been dramatic. In 2002, the Cardinal men’s team won the Pac-10 title for a second straight year. In 2001, Stanford brought home its first conference championship in 74 years with 142 points, the fifth straight season that Stanford had scored more than 100 points. A year earlier, the Cardinal men finished a strong second at the Pac-10 Championships. The Cardinal women also broke the century mark for a fourth straight year with a third place finish at the 2002 Pacific-10 Championships.
At the 2001 NCAA Outdoor Championship, the Cardinal men placed fourth while the Cardinal women finished eighth. Prior to the 2000 NCAA title winning effort, the men’s team boasted four NCAA runnerup finishes in indoor and outdoor track (1998 and 1999), while the women cracked the top ten nationally in 1997.
Each squad is well rounded and capable of scoring points on the NCAA level in all events. In addition, Cardinal athletes have captured 16 individual NCAA Championships with Vin Lananna steering the ship. Three of his former star athletes, Gabriel Jennings and Michael Stember, competed in the 1,500 meters, and Brad Hauser in the 5,000 meters at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia.
The tradition spreads to perennially talented cross country squads. Consider for a moment the progression of success over the past eleven seasons. In 1992, he guided Cardinal senior Gary Stolz to a runnerup finish at the NCAA meet, while senior Louise Watson was named Pac-10 Athlete of the Year.
The following season, the Stanford women’s team won the Pac-10 conference crown for the first time in eight years. In 1994, just three years into Lananna’s tenure at Stanford, the Cardinal made a big splash in the national team races. Both the men and women’s squads managed top ten finishes at the NCAA meet, finishing sixth and seventh respectively. Two years later, the Cardinal made NCAA history in winning both the men and women’s NCAA titles, the first time that had been accomplished since 1985. Stanford cross country has been a national contender every year since.
In addition to his duties as Director of Track & Field/Cross Country at Stanford, Lananna is a seasoned national and international coach. He coached Bob Kempainen to an American record in the marathon and Olympic Games appearance in 1992 and 1996. Lananna also coached Dave Scudamore, the 1997 United States national champion in the marathon and former Stanford All-American.
As a national team coach, Lananna led the East team to a track & field title at the 1990 U.S. Olympic Festival, and served as an assistant coach for the United States at the 1999 World Track & Field Championships. While at the meet in Seville, Spain, Lananna guided Stanford All-American Brad Hauser to 21st place in the 10,000 meters, the top finish by an American. Lananna has coached a pair of United States cross country teams at the World Championships, serving as head coach in both 1990 and 1996.
Lananna added to his laurels by being nominated as the middle distance coach for the United States team at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Greece.
Prior to his arrival at Stanford, Lananna directed the men’s and women’s cross country/track & field programs at Dartmouth College. In 12 seasons with the Big Green, Lananna’s teams won five Heptagonal Track & Field titles and eight straight Heptagonal Cross Country titles. His cross country teams appeared in the NCAA Championships twelve straight times, including two runnerup finishes (1986 and 1987) and an NCAA Coach of the Year award for Lananna in 1986.
Lananna began his coaching career at C.W. Post College in Long Island, New York, after graduating from the school in 1975. As a student at Post, Lananna obtained a bachelor’s degree in history and psychology, and was captain of the cross country team. Lananna later received a masters degree from Long Island University.
Born June 17, 1953, Lananna and his wife Elizabeth have two sons, Brian and Scott. The Lanannas reside at Stanford.