In his ninth season as head coach of the Iona College men's and women's cross country and track & field programs, Ricardo Santos '00 has continued to lead his alma mater to its "Rich Tradition of Excellence". The former All-American cross country performer for the Maroon & Gold has added to the legacy as its leader, guiding both programs to success at the conference, regional and national levels.
At the top of the list of accolades for the Gaels under Santos include six Top 10 finishes at the NCAA Men's Cross Country Championships. In his first season, Iona was the national runner up in Terre Haute with a second place finish. Following eighth place finishes in 2009 and 2010, a ninth place finish in 2011, and a sixth place mark in 2013, the Gaels placed fifth in their latest NCAA Championship appearance in 2015.
Santos has led the men's program to nine MAAC Championships in cross country and extended the nation's longest active streak to 25 straight, a stretch which also includes his time as a student-athlete. The Gaels won two NCAA Northeast Regional Cross Country Championships in 2008 and 2012 earning Santos Regional Coach of the Year honors.
In 2010-11, Iona had one of its most successful campaigns across the cross country, and indoor & outdoor track seasons. Santos led the program to a sixth place finish in the John McDonnell Program of the Year Award standings, honoring the top Division I program in the country.
In addition, the Maroon & Gold was honored as the national team champions in NCAA Division I-AAA cross country in 2009 and 2010 and both indoor track and outdoor track & field in 2011.
The women's program has also seen great success and also won seven MAAC Cross Country Championships in seven seasons under Santos. The program also holds Division I's longest active conference title streak with 10 straight from 2005-2014. Several individual performers have represented the Gaels at the NCAA Championships in all three seasons.
In total, Santos has been responsible for coaching 27 All-Americans, two national champions, five IC4A/ECAC champions, 67 All-East performers, 97 MAAC individual champions, a total of 97 NCAA qualifiers in cross country and indoor/outdoor track & field, and two Honorable Mention All-American s
Among the many great student-athletes recruited and coached by Santos include:
• Outdoor Track & Field NCAA Championship qualifier in 2016; placed seventh in the 10,000m and 16th in the 5,000m.
• A two-time NCAA champion and Iona's first-ever national champion
• Korir Won the 2011 NCAA Indoor 5k event in an Iona record time of 13:26.01 and the 2011 NCAA Outdoor 10k event.
• An eight-time All-American, he finished sixth and eighth in the indoor 3k in 2011 and 2012, sixth in the indoor 5k in 2012 and third in the outdoor 5k in 2011.
• Korir is Iona's record holder in the outdoor 10k with his time of 27:29.40.• In cross country, he finished fourth and third in back-to-back events in 2010 and 2011 at the NCAA Championship.
• In her first season with Iona, Avery finished third at the 2013 NCAA Cross Country Championships, the highest finish for a women's performer at Iona.
• Shattered Iona records in the indoor mile and 3k, and outdoor 5k and 10k.
• Avery placed ninth in the 3k at the NCAA Indoor Championships and eighth in the 5k NCAA Outdoor Championships to become the first Iona women's athlete to earn three All-American honors in a single year.
• Two-time MAAC Champion in 2013 and 2014 and set a meet record with her time in the 2014 event.
• The first-ever Iona performer to be named the MAAC Female Student-Athlete of the Year
• Ledwith finished third at the 2008 NCAA Cross Country Championship.
• He was first at the 2009 IC4A Championship 10k in meet record time and went on to finish fifth at the 2009 Outdoor NCAA Championship at the same distance.
• Earned a sixth place finish at the 2008 NCAA Cross Country Championship and was the NCAA Northeast Regional champion in the same year, earning Northeast Regional Athlete of the Uear.
• He was the 2009 Indoor IC4A 5k champion.
• Finished 10th in the NCAA indoor mile and qualified for the outdoor 1,500m in 2010 while also qualifying for the indoor mile in 2012
• Gregson owns the Iona record in the indoor 800m as well as the outdoor 800m, 1,500m, and mile.
• A four-time All-American and school record holder in the outdoor 5k with a time of 13:34.41.
• Qualified individually for the 2009 NCAA Cross Country Championship.
• Qualified individually for the 2011 NCAA Cross Country Championship.
The Gaels rise on the national level is 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 21 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 13 of 14 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. It marked the first national team trophy in school history for any sport. He worked directly with coach Byrne, the 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 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. In Cambridge, 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.