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Former SUNY grad takes over track & field program - theLCN.com: Sports

Former SUNY grad takes over track & field program

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Posted: Saturday, June 7, 2014 7:58 am

GENESEO — The SUNY Geneseo men’s and women’s track & field program has a new coach.

Director of Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreation Mike Mooney announced that 2006 SUNY Geneseo grad Chris Popovici has been named the head coach at his alma mater.

The former Knights’ middle-distance standout has most recently spent the last three years at SUNY Oneonta as an assistant coach for the Red Dragon cross country and track & field programs as well as a lecturer in the Department of Health and Fitness.

“I am very pleased to have Chris on board,” said Mooney. “Emerging from a very talented and deep pool of candidates, he brings a wealth of track & field knowledge as well as exercise science and strength and conditioning experience to the program. As a former Knights student-athlete, he also fully understands Geneseo’s tradition of success and we look forward to him building upon that for years to come.”

Popovici is excited to take over the program.

“I am honored to be given this opportunity and I look forward to contributing to the Geneseo Athletics

Department again and continuing the legacy of producing inspiring student-athletes for a program that was integral to my development as an individual,” said Popovici. “Honoring the history of the program and its current and former head coaches and student-athletes is paramount to me and I’m excited to begin this next phase of my life and career as coach at my alma mater.”

During his time in Oneonta, he was part of a coaching staff that led the men’s track & field program to its first-ever State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) Outdoor Championship, winning the 2014 title last month before also running to the first Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III Championship two weeks later.

Popovici was also part of the men’s team’s first-ever SUNYAC Indoor Championship in 2013, and has

coached a total of 28 SUNYAC and 11 ECAC individual qualifiers while with the program. In 2013, the

Red Dragon women’s cross country team qualified for the NCAA Championships for the first time in program history and saw Danielle Kennedy finish 19th to be named the first All-American in team history.

As a full-time lecturer in both the Health and Fitness and Sports Management programs at Oneonta, Popovici was responsible for the departmental curricular development while also working as the internship coordinator and associate department chair. He taught courses including Kinesiology, Sport Psychology, Current Health Issues, Exercise Psychology, Principles and Components of Fitness, Advanced Weight Lifting for Performance and Sport & Media. He also served as the strength and conditioning coach for the men’s soccer team for the last two years.

Prior to Oneonta, Popovici spent two years as an assistant coach for the cross country and track & field teams at Cortland. During the 2010-11 season, he coached 10 ECAC qualifying performances and four SUNYAC place-winners, including Cody Amengual who set a SUNYAC Outdoor meet record during the 800 (1:53.25) competition.

Also serving as a graduate assistant in the Kinesiology Department, he went on to earn a master’s degree in kinesiology in 2011, specializing in exercise physiology.

In 2010, Popovici was named director of the Syracuse Chargers Track Club’s Elite Development Group. He has overseen a USA Track & Field (USATF) men’s team 5,000-meter champion and a regional 5,000-meter

men’s team champion, as well as eight club records in the sprints, throws and distance events. Twelve athletes from the club have qualified for the USATF National Track and Field Championships since 2011, including Nick Guarino who finished ninth in the 800 meters at the 2014 USATF Indoor Championships and also clocked the 12th-fastest time 1,000-meter time in the world (2:20.32) during the 2013 indoor season. Under Popovici’s watch, Guarino and his brother, Josh, have registered personal-bests of 1:47.13 and 1:47.35, respectively, in the 800 meters. Club member Sean Bernstein also won a pair of gold medals in the 100 and 200 meters at the 2013 Maccibiah International Games in Israel.

Popovici is a National Strength and Conditioning Association certified specialist and holds a USATF Level II

certification in the sprints, hurdles and relays. He also recently completed the USATF Level III/IAAF Level V Endurance Elite Coaching Academy curriculum.

A native of Pittsford, Popovici started his coaching career at his high school alma mater, Pittsford-Sutherland, from 2006-2009. He graduated from Geneseo in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in communications. A middle distance standout during his four years in the program, Popovici was crowned SUNYAC Champion in the 500 meters during the 2004 Indoor Championships, and also finished third in the 800 meters on two occasions at the SUNYAC Outdoor Championships. Popovici continues to compete with the Syracuse Chargers Track Club, owning lifetime-bests of 1:52.51 in the 800, 2:29.47 in the 1,000 and 3:57.98 in the 1,500.

“I can’t express my gratitude to the track & field staff, the athletic department and the Department of Health and Fitness at Oneonta for all their support and the opportunities they’ve provided me over the past three years,” continued Popovici. “And to my family, and my many mentors and influences, I must say thank you.”

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