Salerno Honored With Two Coach of the Year Awards

    For UCSD women’s track and field coach Tony Salerno, good tidings come in pairs.

    Greg Dale/Guardian
    Sophomore Corey Sheredy was one of many of coach Tony Salerno’s talented female athletes that earned him a second Coach of the Year award.

    For the second-straight year, Salerno guided his women’s squad to a California Collegiate Athletic Association championship title May 4 through 6, earning Salerno his second-straight CCAA Coach of the Year award.

    And recently, the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association also named Salerno the NCAA Division-II West Region Coach of the Year for the second year in a row.

    “It is an honor, but it’s one for the coaching staff really,” Salerno said. “The head coach in track and field is mostly an administrator. It’s a little bit embarrassing. Because you know the success belongs to both the coaches and the staff.”

    It would be wrong to call this season a surprise, as Salerno has repeated or improved upon most of his accomplishments from last year. However, no one expected the type of dominant performance the lady Triton team put up at the CCAA championships.

    The Tritons beat second-place team Cal State Los Angeles by a margin of 110 points, allowing the team to compete in nine events in the NCAA track and field championships starting May 25 in Emporia, Kan.

    Though Salerno was honored specifically for his women’s team, he also did a great job improving the men, who placed second at the conference championships after finishing third the year before.

    A second-place CCAA finish should be considered a success, but Salerno is not satisfied and hopes that improved recruiting can help the men’s team.

    “One of the challenges at UCSD is that recruiting on the men’s side is a little harder than recruiting on the women’s side,” Salerno said. “That’s just the nature of the different genders. The women typically have higher GPAs and better test scores and they apply on time, and the guys tend to be not as good at that, so it really affects our recruiting. Once we get the men here, we do a pretty good job with them, but the challenge is just getting them in the school.”

    The men’s team will compete in four events at the NCAA championships and will try to improve on last year’s 25th-place finish. With the women’s squad placing 14th, both teams set records for the highest finish in UCSD D-II history.

    “The award represents a culmination of our work, and hopefully it’s a level we’ll be able to stay at,” Salerno said. “Certainly the women’s team improved over their conference win last year and the men are a lot better, too. We’re just going to keep on moving in that direction.”

    The track and field teams have one more event to conquer and it will be the toughest competition the Tritons face all year. But, since the event is different in many ways from some early season games, anything can happen, according to Salerno.

    “Its really hard to say how we’ll do,” Salerno said. “Nationals is tough, with 320 athletes competing in some events, and they are the top athletes in the country. So if you get a few breaks, you can land in the top 10 on the women’s side. It took 270 points for us to win conference this year and it only takes 53 or so to be second in the nation, so anything can happen.”

    No matter what place Salerno’s teams take, this season has been successful in getting the word out about the quality of the UCSD program.

    “The visibility of the program has improved dramatically,” Salerno said. “Now we’re known as one of the up- and-coming programs in California. Rather than being a third or fourth choice, we’re a first or second choice.We were recruiting against Division-III schools not long ago and now we’re head-to-head with UCLA. There’s still a long way to go before we give you a complete program, and hopefully we can get to that point in the near future. But we’re just going to keep doing what we can with what we’ve got and fortunately we’ve had some success with that plan.”

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