Ricardo Santos ’00 is in his fourth season as head coach of the Iona College men’s and women’s cross country and track and field program. Santos’ squads have continued the unprecedented heights that have been achieved since his time as a student-athlete in the late 1990s.
Santos has guided the programs to numerous accolades during his tenure including a second place for the men at the 2008 NCAA Cross Country Championships, eighth place finishes in 2009 and 2010, and ninth place in 2011. Santos has been responsible for coaching 15 NCAA All-American’s, two Second Team All-American’s, four IC4A/ECAC Champions, 55 All-East performers, 55 MAAC individual Champions, a total of 48 NCAA qualifiers in Cross Country and Indoor/Outdoor Track & Field, and one Honorable Mention All-American.
The four-time MAAC men’s and women’s cross country Coach of the Year has guided both programs to MAAC Championships in each of his four seasons in New Rochelle. The feat extended both program’s streaks to the nation’s longest as the men’s team has earned 21 straight MAAC titles while the women’s team garnered its seventh straight.
In 2010-11, the men’s program finished sixth overall John McDonnell Program of the Year Award standings, accounting for its finishes in all three NCAA Championships: cross country and indoor and outdoor track and field. Santos was named the 2008 Northeast Regional Men’s Coach of the Year after winning its fourth straight regional cross country championship.
Santos has recruited and mentored several all-time student-athletes at Iona College.
Leonard Korir earned the 2011 Indoor Track 5,000-meter and Outdoor Track 10,000-meter NCAA titles, the first-ever national championships in Iona College history. The 5k indoor time of 13:26.01 set NCAA Championship and Iona College records. Korir also placed sixth in the Indoor 3,000-meter (2011) and 5,000-meter (2012) and third in the Outdoor 5,000-meter on 2011. He is also the Iona record holder in the outdoor 10,000-meter with his time of 27:29.40 at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational in Palo Alto, CA. In cross country, Korir finished fourth and third at the 2010 and 2011 NCAA Cross Country Championships. He will graduate Iona as an eight-time All-American.
Among Andrew Ledwith’s career highlights under Coach Santos include a third place finish at the 2008 NCAA Cross Country Championships and a first place finish and meet record at the 2009 IC4A Championships in the 10,000-meter event. Ledwith went on to finish fifth at the 2009 Outdoor NCAA championships at the same distance.
Mohamed Khadraoui was sixth overall at the 2008 NCAA Cross Country Championship and was the Northeast Regional champion earning Regional Athlete of the Year the same season. Khadraoui was first at the 2009 Indoor IC4A 5,000-meter race.
Heidi Gregson finished 10th in NCAA indoor Mile and was an outdoor 1,500-meter qualifier in 2010. She also qualified for the NCAA indoor mile in 2012. Gregson is the Iona record holder in the indoor 800-meters and mile, as well as the outdoor 1,500-meters and mile.
Two additional women’s recruits have since success under Santos including Anna Holm-Jorgensen and Hollie Rowland who qualified individually for the 2009 and 2011 NCAA Cross Country Championship respectively.
Santos’ program, a member of the NCAA Division I-AAA, has earned four national team championships in cross country (2010, 2011), indoor track and field (2011), and outdoor track and field (2011).
The Gaels rise on the national level can be directly correlated to Santos arrival on the New Rochelle campus in 1995 under the direction of former head coach Mick Byrne. By the time of his senior season in 1998, the Maroon & Gold had reached the NCAA Championship in back-to-back seasons for the first time in program history. As a freshman, the squad earned a fourth place finish at the NCAA Northeast Regionals, just missing an at-large bid to the NCAAs. After the 1996 squad was forced out of competition at regionals due to injuries and illness, the 1997 squad finished second in the Northeast and 13th at the national championship. In his senior year, Santos led the Gaels by finishing second overall in the Northeast event en route to a third place finish and an at-large bid to nationals. In 1998, he earned the second of nine Iona Cross Country All-American honors in its history as the team finished 23rd overall at the NCAA Championship. Since that season, the Gaels have earned an automatic bid with a first or second place finish at regionals in all eight seasons which it competed in the event.
Santos' cross country team earned four straight MAAC championships while he took home two individual titles in 1996 and 1998. He is one of six competitors to win multiple MAAC Championships, all of them being fellow Gaels. In 1999, the three-time team captain earned the Joseph O’Connell Award as Iona College’s top senior student-athlete. In addition to his prominence in cross country, Santos earned nine individual MAAC Championships in indoor and outdoor track, three IC4A Championships and was a nine-time All-East selection. His IC4A titles came in the indoor 5k in '97, and the indoor 3k and outdoor 5k in 1998.
Upon the completion of his eligibility in the 2000 outdoor track season, Santos became a part-time assistant coach at Iona where he worked with the both the cross country and track programs. During the four years Santos coached at Iona, the Gaels consistently finished in the top 10 at the NCAA Cross Country Championships including a fourth-place performance in 2003. This marked the first national team trophy in school history for any sport. He worked directly with head coach Mick Byrne, 1999, 2002 and 2003 Northeast Coach of the Year, and assisted coaching the men’s cross country team to their 14th-consecutive MAAC Championship and the women’s cross country team to their first ever conference championship. During his tenure at Iona, he helped coach 16 individual qualifiers to the NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field Championships and was part of 11 All-America performances in the distance events.
In addition to his role at Iona, Santos continued to compete and finished in the top-12 at the Canadian Cross Country Nationals twice. He also worked at All Hallows High School as a guidance counselor and earned a Master’s of Social Work from Columbia University in 2001.
Santos returned to his alma mater in August 2008 after serving as an assistant coach at Harvard University. Santos joined the Harvard cross country and track and field program in 2005 as a coaching assistant and worked primarily with the distance squad. In July of 2006, he was elevated to a full time position working directly under new Crimson head coach and former Iona assistant, Jason Saretsky with the middle distance and distance squads. Santos also served as the primary recruiting coordinator for the Harvard squads.
Last fall, the Crimson defeated arch-rival Yale for the first time this decade. The men finished fifth at the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships for its best finish in six years. The women also finished fifth, their best performance since 1999. The top five finishers for the women were freshman. Two of his recruits went on to earn all-region honors with top-25 finishes at the NCAA Northeast Regional. Harvard’s distance squad under Santos and Saretsky, posted 17 ECAC/IC4A qualifying marks indoors and six outdoor during the 2007-08 season, almost doubling the qualifiers from the previous season.
Santos is a 2000 graduate of Iona College where he earned All-America honors in cross country. Santos was a three-time IC4A Champion, a nine time All-East honoree and an 11-time MAAC Champion and All-MAAC recipient. He was also an All-MAAC academic team member.
Santos is a certified USA Track and Field Level I coach. He holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Social Work from Iona in 2000 along with his master's degree from Columbia.