Entering his 22nd season at the helm of the Monmouth University men's and women's cross country and track & field programs in 2016-17, Joe Compagni has established himself as one of the most distinguished coaching names on the East Coast.
Monmouth was led into the MAAC in 2013-14 by Coach Compagni, and the track and field teams flourished in the new league. Both the men's and women's indoor and outdoor teams captured MAAC titles, and four athletes earned All-American status after qualifying for the NCAA Championships. Compagni has since led the Hawks to three consecutive Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field MAAC Championships.
Mariah Toussaint became the first MU female to ever qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championships, doing so in the long jump. Three Hawks advanced to Eugene, Ore. for the NCAA Outdoor Championships for the first time ever, as McLean Lipschutz and Vincent DuVernois qualified in the javelin with freshman Dylan Capwell joining them in the 800. During Capwell's sophomore season, he finished second at the NCAA Championships, earning All-America status. A year later, Capwell again qualified for the NCAA Finals in the 800 meter run, finishing 8th and again earning All-American honors.
In 21 seasons, Compagni has won NEC, MAAC, and NCAA Regional Coach of the Year 46 times. Compagni also been honored as a USTFCCCA NCAA Division I Mid-Atlantic Region Coach of the Year seven times, most recently for men's outdoor track and field in 2016.
During his tenure at Monmouth, Coach Compagni has coached his teams to 29 Northeast Conference Championships in both cross country and track & field, increasing the programs’ total championship count to 31. In addition to team titles, Compagni has coached 218 men's and women's individual track titles in NEC competition, 141 All-East honorees at the IC4A/ECAC Championships, and 96 NCAA East Regional Track and Field Championship Qualifiers, while seven athletes have earned a total of nine All-American citations, joining Augie Zilincar (1968), in program annals.
As the head of the cross country program, Compagni guided the women to a top four finish at the NEC Championships for 10 straight years, including five straight top-three finishes. A team that has won three overall women’s cross country titles, including one under Compagni, the Hawks have 41 All-NEC performers in program history, 26 of which have come under Compagni.
On the men’s side, the harriers have finished among the top four at the NEC Championships in five of the last six years, while 19 of its 27 overall All-NEC competitors have claimed all-league status under Compagni.
The Monmouth indoor track and field programs have enjoyed remarkable success as well, as the men’s side has finished first or second in seven of the last eight years, including team titles in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2012, while the women have claimed team trophies five times (2004, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2012) and have finished in the top-two in each of the last nine years.
Monmouth outdoor track and field has provided the greatest number of championships for the Hawks, as the Blue and White can boast a total of 19 titles between the men’s and women’s squads in program history. In 2012, the Hawks completed an unprecedented four-year sweep by both sides at the NEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships, giving the men 10 total and the women nine trophies. The men’s team, which has won eight of the last nine titles, has finished first or second the last 15 years in a row, while the women have won five of the last six titles.
The 2011-12 school year was a memorable one for all of the Hawks under Compagni. After both the men’s and women’s cross country teams claimed third place at the NEC Championships, highlighted by all-league performers Khari Bowen, Jennifer Nelson and Kelsey Maher, the Blue and White went on to sweep both the NEC Indoor and Outdoor Championships. The women’s indoor squad claimed its fifth overall title, and the men’s side earned its fourth, while both squads won their fourth straight outdoor title in 2012.
In 2012, nine Monmouth student-athletes earned 11 qualifying spots in six different events at the NCAA East Regional Championships, including Vincent Elardo (hammer throw, shot put) and Rachel Watkins (400 hurdles, high jump). Alongside Elardo in the shot put were Errol Jeffrey, Tom Ciccoli and Shane Carle, while Vincent DuVernois and Zach Torrell competed in the javelin.
Joining Watkins as Monmouth women’s competitors were Lindsey Walsh in the high jump, and Jennifer Nelson in the 10,000 meter run.
Elardo, who advanced to the NCAA Championship Finals in the shot put, earned 2012 Division I Honorable Mention All-American honors, and became the seventh Monmouth athlete to earn Division I All-America honors in track and field, joining Augie Zilincar (hammer), Jon Kalnas (shot put), Joe Madden (hammer), Bobby Smith (javelin), Tisifenee Taylor (long jump), and Vincent DuVernois (javelin).
Historic on the national level for the Hawks was the summer of 2008, as three of the team's alums qualified for and competed at the U.S. Olympic Trials. Kalnas, Taylor and Smith represented the Hawks very well at historic Heyward Field in Oregon, with Smith earning a national championship with an upset win in the javelin.
Monmouth athletes have competed at their National Championships in the U.S. and abroad on more than a dozen occasions in recent years. Most recently, freshman Khari Bowen won the Jamaican Junior National Track & Field Championships in the 5000.
In the last 17 years, Monmouth athletes have set new school records in indoor and outdoor track and field on over 500 occasions.
In the five years prior to Compagni's arrival, the women's indoor and outdoor track & field teams claimed just six individual titles. Since 1996, the program has won 108 individual NEC crowns. During the same time frame, the men have garnered 110 league titles after winning just nine from 1991 to 1995.
Moreover, in the last three years alone the Hawks have garnered 12 Academic All-America awards, including DuVernois’ 2012 Capital One Academic All-America® Division I Men’s Track & Field/Cross Country Third Team citation. Even with a large roster every year, the track and field and cross country programs consistently post a team GPA of over 3.0 and earn conference and national academic honors.
Compagni, a past President and member of the Games Committee of the IC4A Coaches' Association as well as member of the United States Track Coaches Association Division I Executive Committee, currently serves on the Northeast Conference Games and Seeding Advisory Committees, and is a member of the Board of Trustees for USA Track & Field-New Jersey. Compagni received USATF Level 1 certification early in his coaching career.
More recently Compagni attended the USATF Level 3 Distance summit, and in 2011 completed the USTFCCCA Sports Science for Endurance Events and Program Management courses.
Prior to his arrival at Monmouth, Compagni spent four years at California University of Pennsylvania, serving as head cross country coach and assistant track and field coach. In his final year at CUP, he guided the Vulcans to a 50-9 overall record, including winning four straight meets.
A 1987 graduate of the University of Delaware, Compagni lettered in both cross country and track & field and served as the Blue Hens' cross country captain as a senior.
Compagni, who worked with cyclists and runners at the United States Olympic Training Center in 1989, received his master's degree in communication from Cornell University in 1990. While at Cornell, he ran for the High Noon Athletic Club.
Compagni and his wife, Jennifer, reside in Highlands, with their daughter Gabriela.
Monmouth Cross Country and Track & Field under Coach Compagni
1995 - Present
Team Championships: 29 [14 men; 15 women]
NEC Coach of the Year Awards: 26
Mid-Atlantic Region Coach of the Year Awards: 4
All-NEC XC Performers: 45
NEC T&F Champions: 218
All-East XC Performers: 34
All-East T&F Performers: 141
Men’s NEC Most Outstanding T&F Performers: 19
Women’s NEC Most Outstanding T&F Performers: 17
Jon Kalnas, Shot Put (2000, 2001, 2002)
Joe Madden, Hammer Throw (2001)
Bobby Smith, Javelin (2005)
Tisifinee Taylor, Long Jump (2007)
Vincent DuVernois, Javelin (2011)
Vincent Elardo, Shot Put (2012)
Dylan Capwell, 800m (2015, 2016)