Joe Pienta returns for his fifth season in Maroon & Gold in 2014-15 and first as associate head coach of the Iona College men's and women's cross country and track & field programs.
Since Pienta’s arrival five years ago, the men’s cross country team has earned four Top 10 NCAA Championship finishes including sixth place in 2013, eighth in 2014 and 2010 and ninth in 2011. Both programs have earned MAAC Cross Country Championships in each of his five seasons and each has won a NCAA Northeast Regional title, the men in 2012 and the women in 2014. Pienta has mentored NCAA All-Americans Leonard Korir, Mitch Goose, Dan Clorley, Matt Gillespie and Kate Avery. He has seen Goose and Gillespie run sub four-minute miles and Korir set an Iona indoor record 13:19 in the 5000-meter event. Under the guidance of Pienta, Goose also established a new outdoor 5000-meter school record of 13:34 and Korir reached a new 10,000-meter school record and Olympic standard time of 27:29. Avery achieved a 5k school record time of 15:27 and was Iona’s first female NCAA Champion, winning the cross country race this past November.
Pienta came to New Rochelle after spending the three seasons as an assistant coach at Binghamton University. During his time with the Bearcats, the program experienced its first America East Cross Country Championship in 2009. They finished eighth at NCAA Regionals and had their first-ever NCAA individual qualifier in cross country, Erik Van Ingen. Van Ingen was also the school’s first-ever sub-four minute mile. Prior to Binghamton, Pienta served as a volunteer assistant at Columbia University. The women's team placed second in the Ivy League and sent their top runner to the NCAA Championship. The women were also sixth out of 36 teams at regionals while the men placed 10th out of 34 squads.
A 2004 graduate of the University at Albany, Pienta earned America East All-Conference honors in both cross country and track. He placed sixth at the conference's cross country championship in 2002 and eighth in 2003. In track, Pienta earned all-conference honors in the 5,000 at the 2002 America East Indoor Meet. In the classroom, Pienta was consistently named to the America East Commissioner's Honor Roll and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in history.
Pienta’s coaching influences include his former high school coaches, Bill Barrass and Tyler Eichas, his former collegiate coach at the University of Albany, Kevin Williams, as well as the hit sitcom, "Coach," starring the great Craig T. Nelson and Ernie "Coach" Pantusso from “Cheers”.
Pienta is an avid fan of both music and comedy, melding the two as a founding member of the Barnyard Calamity Players comedy and acting troupe. He is the son of legendary bluesman and wood-worker, the late Walter J. Pienta, who was the lead singer and harmonica player in the seminal contemporary blues group, Whittlin' Walt & His Bladed Bluesmen.
|Position:||Associate Head Coach|