Phipps Adds Lara Rogers to Lead Women's Cross Country and Distance Programs
PULLMAN – Washington State Director of Cross Country/Track & Field Wayne Phipps announced the hiring of Lara Rogers as the program's Head Women's Cross Country Coach/Assistant Track & field coach for distance on Wednesday. Rogers joins the WSU staff after spending the previous two seasons as an associate head coach for cross country/assistant track & field coach at the University of Cincinnati.
During her six-year tenure at Cincinnati, Rogers led a cross country staff that earned three AAC Women's Coaching Staff of the Year honors. She was also recognized individually by the USTFCCA as the Great Lakes Region's Men's Assistant Coach of the Year in 2021.
"I would like to thank [WSU Deputy Director of Athletics] Mitch Straub and the WSU Administration for all of their help during this process," said Director of Cross Country/Track & Field Wayne Phipps. "I could not be more excited to add Lara to our staff. Her work and incredible success at Cincinnati spoke for itself, however, after meeting and speaking with Lara I was even more impressed by her as a person. She has already made an immediate impact on our program and student-athletes. She helped guide our women's distance group to five top-ten all-time performances only a day after arriving at WSU and then was a part of our women's team victory over UW the very next weekend. The future of WSU Women's XC and distance is certainly very bright and is certainly in excellent hands with Coach Rogers," said Phipps.
Over her final two years leading the Bearcats' distance and cross-country programs, Rogers helped lead Cincinnati to its best American Athletic Conference (AAC) team finishes in school history, placing runner-up on the women's side and third on the men's side in 2021. She helped guide Ellie Leather to a 14th-place finish in the NCAA Women's Cross Country Great Lakes Regional to become the program's first-ever NCAA XC Championships national qualifier. Under Rogers' direction, Leather would later earn All-American honors after placing third in the mile at the 2022 NCAA Indoor T&F Championships. Leather's All-American performance came on the backend of an indoor season that saw the Bearcats set five program records while collecting five AAC conference championships across the 800, mile and DMR.
"I want to thank coach (Wayne) Phipps for this great opportunity," said Rogers. "(Phipps) really sold me on the culture at WSU, and upon arriving in Pullman, it is very evident that it is a great place to be with a rich tradition, amazing people, and great support for developing nationally competitive student-athletes," said Rogers.
A former team captain and four-time cross country team MVP during her collegiate career at the University of Nebraska, Rogers arrived at Cincinnati in August of 2015 as an assistant coach. In only her second year on the Bearcats' staff, she was elevated to head coach of the women's cross country program and oversaw six program records along with 68 top-10 marks in her first season as cross country head coach.
Rogers began her collegiate coaching career at Shippensburg University as a volunteer coach while she completed her graduate studies. She was later promoted to an assistant coach at Shippensburg and helped oversee a program that had a total of 11 All-Americans, 24 NCAA Division II Championship qualifiers and 25 individual conference championships during her tenure.
Following the completion of her master's education, Rogers represented Saucony and NE Distance as she continued her competitive career while also coaching cross country and track at Woonsocket Middle School.
Competitively, Rogers was a combined seven-time qualifier at Nebraska for NCAA Division I Championships for cross country and track. She also qualified for the 2008 U.S. Olympic trials in the 10,000-meter and following her time at Nebraska, she transitioned to Shippensburg University where she earned All-American status, qualifying for the NCAA Championships for cross country and both track & field seasons as she exhausted her collegiate eligibility at the NCAA Division II level in 2011-12.
"I would like to everyone that I was so fortunate to work alongside at Cincinnati," said Rogers. "I greatly enjoyed my time in Cincinnati. Thanks to [Univ. of Cincinnati Director of XC/T&F] Susan Seaton, the entire (Cincinnati T&F) staff, and amazing UC student-athletes, I feel prepared for this next step in my coaching career. I am super excited to get working with the distance runners and this amazing program here at WSU—Go Cougs!"
WSU track & field will be back on the road in California for two meets this weekend, as the Cougars will participate in the Payton Jordan Invitational on Friday followed by the Fresno State Invitational on Saturday.