Steve Magness joined the University of Houston cross country and track and field programs as an assistant coach with his hiring in August 2012. He was promoted to serve as the Cross Country team’s head coach prior to the 2014 season.
Magness coached senior Brian Barraza to a piece of school history after the distance runner qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships in College Station, Texas. Running the 3,000-meters at the championships, Barraza finished seventh and earned First Team All-America honors, marking the first time in Houston history that an athlete claimed the honors in an event longer than 400-meters. Barraza would then go on to become the 12th Cougar student-athlete in history to earn Academic All-America honors when he landed on the Second Team.
2015 was a banner year for Magness and the Cross Country Program, as he led junior Brian Barraza to a regional championship at the NCAA South Central Regional. Barraza became the first regional champion in school history.
2014 began as a special year for Magness as he helped lead sophomore Brian Barraza to the NCAA Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, Ind. Barraza became the first Cougar since 2011 to qualify for nationals.
Magness would go on to lead Barraza to the NCAA West Regional as well as senior Drevan Anderson-Kaapa in the 800m.
During his first cross country season, Magness helped sophomore Yonas Tesfai earn all conference honors, as well as a 21st place showing at the South Central regional meet. As the assistant coach in charge of the middle and long distance runners during the track season, Magness made an impact immediately.
During the indoor season, Anthony Coleman recorded the 4th fastest 800m time in school history (1:51.33). While Yonas Tesfai broke the school record in the 3,000m (8:19.60) and recorded the 4th fastest mile time in school history (4:07.04).
Outdoors he helped Yonas Tesfai (1:49.62), Drevan Anderson-Kaapa (1:49.58), and Anthony Coleman (1:50.20) all advance to the first round of NCAA’s in the 800m. Anderson-Kaapa’s time was the 5th fastest in school history, while Anthony Coleman was the Conference USA outdoor champion in the 800m. Additionally, Yonas Tesfai ended up with the 5th fastest 1,500m time in school history, recording a best of 3:46.75. On the women’s side, Kat Duccomun recorded the second fastest time in school history in the 3,000m steeplechase.
Magness joined the Cougars after spending a year and a half working for Nike as a coach and scientific advisor with several of their professional runners. During this time, Magness assisted with athletes who came away with gold and silver medals at the 2011 world championships and 2012 Olympic games in London. While in Oregon, Magness was responsible for coaching several elite runners including, Irish miler Ciaran O’Lionaird who recorded an indoor personal best of 3:54 for the mile, as well as an appearance at the 2012 World Indoor Championships. Magness also worked with Israeli steeplechaser Itay Magidi, and Olympic trials qualifier in the 3,000m steeplechase Lindsay Allen.
Magness still coaches a handful of professional runners including Jackie Areson, Sara Hall, and Tommy Schmitz. Jackie Areson is a current Houston volunteer assistant coach, Jackie Areson, for the cougars. Under Magness’ guidance, Jackie has finished 11th at the 2012 world indoor championships in the 3,000m run and finished 15th in the 5k at the 2013 World outdoor track Championships in Moscow, Russia. She has recorded personal bests of 4:12.59 for 1,500m and 15:12.09 for 5,000m. Tommy Schmitz has recorded personal bests of 3:39 for 1,500m and 1:49 for 800m, as well as qualifying for three USATF outdoor championship meets under Magness guidance. While Sara Hall finished 8th at the 2013 USA cross country championships and competed at the 2013 USA championships in the 3,000m steeplechase while being coached by Magness.
Prior to working with Nike, Magness coached at the high school level, guiding Klein Oak HS runner Ryan Dohner to a state championship in the 3,200m run, and an 11th place finish at the Nike Cross Country National championships.
Magness competed his freshman through junior years at Rice University, where he was the Western Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year and a regional qualifier in track during the 2003-04 season. In 2004, Magness qualified as an individual to the NCAA cross country championships by placing 5th at the south central regional meet.
As a senior in 2007-08, Magness ran for the Cougars and finished in the Top 10 at the Conference USA Championships and was 11th at the NCAA South Central Regionals, missing making nationals by .08 seconds. For those efforts, he was named to the C-USA Academic All-Conference and the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association All-Academic teams.
As a prep, Magness ran under Gerald Stewart, where he won the State Championship in the 1600M and set a state record in the event. As a high school runner, Magness competed against some of the world’s best at the Prefontaine Classic, recording a time of 4:01.02, which still stands as the 7th fastest high school mile time ever run in the U.S. Magness was also part of the fastest high school Distance Medley Relay team in the nation in 2003.
Magness holds a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from the University of Houston in 2008 and a master’s in exercise, fitness, and health promotions from George Mason University in 2010. He is also a current contributor to Running Times Magazine and Competitor Magazine and has contributed to articles published in Runner’s World, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, New Studies in Athletics and the International Journal of Athletic Training.