TACOMA, Washington – Long-time Puget Sound cross country and track & field head coach Mike Orechia announced that he is retiring after 22 years at Puget Sound. Orechia will remain with the Loggers through the conclusion of the 2019 track & field outdoor season.
"As I reflect on 22 years at Puget Sound, I must thank former Athletic Director Dick Ulrich and former Dean Terry Coney for giving me an opportunity to work with student-athletes who place a high priority on their academics while still attaining great things athletically," said Orechia. "I have been fortunate to be involved in track & field and cross country for over 48 years as an athlete and a coach. It has afforded me the opportunity to meet and work with so many great individuals and travel the world. I appreciate the support and love of all the alumni over the years, and I wish present and future Loggers all the best."
Orechia joined the Puget Sound athletics staff in 1997 as the Director of Cross Country and Track & Field. During his Puget Sound tenure, Orechia has garnered several U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) accolades, while placing numerous All-Americans.
While at Puget Sound, Orechia guided 13 All-American Cross Country runners and 24 All-American track & field competitors. Four of the athletes captured NCAA titles including Dave Davis and Dana Boyle who each won the NCAA D-III Cross Country Championship. Boyle was also the women's 3,000-m national champion in 1999, and Amy Wells won the women's pole vault national title in 1998.
Three of Orechia's former student-athletes are in the Puget Sound Hall of Fame (Dana Boyle Solof, Andrea Boitano Donovan, Dave Davis).
His teams are also highly successful in the classroom. Puget Sound cross country runners earned 39 individual national All-Academic honors, and track & field competitors earned 26 individual national All-Academic honors during Orechia's tenure. The teams have earned a combined 57 All-Academic Team honors. Orechia's student-athletes have also received the prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship, the most recent of which was bestowed to Tyler Shipley in 2016.
"I've always admired Mike's deep passion for the sport and his ability to develop young talent and put students in a position to compete on the national stage," said Puget Sound Director of Athletics Amy Hackett. "His long service to Puget Sound has brought both athletic and academic distinction to our university and is appreciated."
Orechia was the USTFCCCA Men's Indoor West Region Coach of the Year in 2002, 2004, and 2016. He was also the USTFCCCA West Region Men's Cross Country Coach of the Year in 2002, and the USTFCCCA West Region Women's Cross Country Coach of the Year in 2001 and 2006. He served on the NCAA Cross Country and Track & Field Championship Committee from 2014 to 2018.
In recent years, Loggers continue to compete at a high level under Orechia's tutelage. Colin Monaghan won the 2018 Northwest Conference Men's Cross Country title, only three years after Tyler Shipley won the conference crown. Shipley was the 2015 USTFCCCA West Region Men's Cross Country Athlete of the Year.
On the track, Matt Wells was named the 2018 USTFCCCA Men's Indoor Athlete of the Year after setting the school record in the 60-m hurdles (8.23 seconds). During the 2019 NWC Track & Field Championships, the Loggers captured four individual titles.
Before arriving at Puget Sound, Orechia spent 10 years as the cross country and track & field head coach at the University of Chicago. During his time at the University of Chicago, Orechia coached 10 All-Americans.
Puget Sound is beginning a nation-wide search for its next Head Coach of Cross Country and Track & Field.