May 13, 2014
HOUSTON – After serving two years as an assistant coach to the cross country and distance group of the University of Houston Track and Field program, Steve Magness has been promoted to head coach of the Houston Cross Country program, Leroy Burrell announced Monday afternoon.
“Steve has done a wonderful job with our distance program. He has recruited well and done a masterful job working with our student athletes,” Burrell said. “Our distance athletes have broken records this year won conference championships and qualified for the post season. He is one of the best young distance coaches in the country and he deserves this promotion to head Cross Country coach.”
Magness will take on more of an administrative role with the promotion, overseeing budget, equipment and recruiting decisions for the program.
"I'm excited to take on the additional duties of head Cross Country coach and would like to thank Leroy Burrell for the opportunity,” Magness said. “Over my last two years here, with Coach Burrell's support, we have really raised the expectations of the middle and long distance group here at Houston. My goal is to continue that progression and try to continue to develop the student athletes we get and to elevate the Cross Country program to a national level."
Magness joined the staff as an assistant coach in August 2012. He was brought on to lead the cross country and distance programs to higher levels of competition.
Last season, Magness helped freshman Brian Barraza to top-three finishes in the first three meets of the season. Barraza went on to finish fifth at the inaugural American Athletic Conference Cross Country Championships and finished in the top 30 for the NCAA Division I South Central Regional meet. He also coached Yonas Tesfai to a top-20 finish at the regional meet, barely missing the bid to nationals.
During the indoor track and field season, Barraza also broke the 3,000-meter (3:16.84) and 5,000-meter (14:23.29) school records under Magness’ coaching. Under his direction, the men’s distance medley relay set the American Athletic Conference indoor record to win the conference championship. The relay team recorded three of the top five times in school history.
During his first cross country season, Magness helped Tesfai earn all conference honors, as well as a 21st place showing at the South Central regional meet.
He helped Anthony Coleman to record the fourth fastest indoor 800m time in school history (1:51.33). While Tesfai broke the school record in the 3,000m (8:19.60) and recorded the fourth fastest mile time in school history (4:07.04).
In his first outdoor season as assistant coach, Magness helped Tesfai (1:49.62), Drevan Anderson-Kaapa (1:49.58), and Coleman (1:50.20) all advance to the NCAA regional meet in the 800m. Anderson-Kaapa's time was the fifth fastest in school history, while Coleman was crowned the Conference USA outdoor 800m champion. Additionally, Tesfai ended up with the fifth 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 Cougars volunteer assistant coach Jackie Areson. Under Magness' guidance, Areson finished 11th at the 2012 World Indoor Championships in the 3,000m and finished 15th in the 5,000m at the 2013 World Outdoor Championships in Moscow, Russia.
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 fifth at the south central regional meet.
As a University of Houston 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 nationals by .08 seconds. 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.
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.