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February 18. 2013 9:37PM

SNHU tabs Manchester Olympian Joanne Dow to coach cross country


Joanne Dow, Bishop Guertin, 2008-09 New Hampshire Union Leader girls' indoor track and field All-State Coach of the Year. (UNION LEADER FILE)
Olympian Joanne Dow of Manchester is returning home to coach.

Southern New Hampshire University announced Monday that Dow has been named the head men's and women's cross country coach.

"I'm looking forward to coaching at Southern New Hampshire University, looking forward to working with young athletes who want to better themselves and the program," said Dow, who left a similar 30-week part-time job at Siena College of Loudonville, N.Y.

Dow competed in the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing and placed 31st in the 20-kilometer race walk. She's a 10-time United States national racewalking champion. The Queen City native is also a five-time United States Olympic Trails qualifier.

The decision to leave Siena was a tough one for Dow because she made an immediate impact there during her first season.

She led the men's team to a sixth-place finish in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championship, the program's highest finish in eight seasons. The men also placed fourth at the IC4A Cross Country Championship, a 10-place improvement from the previous season.

Under Dow, the women's program went from last place the previous season to 13th place last season at the ECAC Championships. The Saint runners posted the fastest 6K, 8K and 10K times in program history on both the men's and women's teams.

"Believe me I was totally happy coaching at Siena," said Dow. "I liked the school, the kids, the athletic department and just everything about the job was wonderful. But when a similar job at Southern New Hampshire University opens up exactly one mile from my home, it turns out to be the only reason I'd want to leave a place like Siena. Instead of packing up, selling the house and making a life adjustment by moving my family to the area (in Loudonville), I can now remain in a community I love with my family.

"It's really tough leaving the kids behind at Siena because we were starting to build something together there. But now my full attention turns to Southern New Hampshire where I'm committed to helping the runners there to be the best they can be," said Dow.

Dow, a 1986 UNH graduate who earned her master's in kinesiology, said she will shortly begin the recruiting process primarily in New England and will be able to offer some scholarships.

Dow has plenty of coaching experience on the college level. Before coaching at Siena, she was the assistant coach at UNH for the men's and women's cross-country and outdoor track and field teams from 2010-12. She led the women's cross country team to two America East runner-up championships. The women's outdoor track and field program were New England champs in 2011 and finished second in 2012.

On the high school level, Dow served as head coach of the girls' cross country and track and field and, boys' track and field at Bishop Guertin of Nashua from 2008-2010. She led the girls' and boys' outdoor track and field program to a Class L championship. She was a three-time Class L Coach of the Year with the Cardinals.

She started her coaching career at Manchester Central High, where she served as head coach of boys' cross country program.

She was assistant coach for girls' track and field program from 2004-2008.

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