Carla Criste will enter her 22nd season as Navy's head women's track and field coach in 2012-13. Criste is one of the Academy's most successful and consistent coaches.
Under Criste's guidance, Navy has defeated Army in eight straight indoor/outdoor Star Meets, a dominance that included seven straight indoor Star Meet victories. Overall, Criste is 25-14-1 against Army and is an impressive 13-1 against the Black Knights in the last seven years.
Criste has led Navy to an outstanding dual-scored meet record of 316-51-1 (.860) during her tenure and the team has posted a 134-3 (.978) record and four undefeated seasons since the beginning of the 2005-06 season.
In addition to its regular season successes, Navy has also stepped up at the postseason championship level, claiming five Patriot League titles since 2001 and posting five top-20 efforts at the ECAC Championship over the last nine seasons.
In 2011-12, Navy swept Army in the indoor and outdoor Star Meet for the fourth straight year, won the 2012 Patriot League Outdoor Championship and Jess Palacio earned Navy's first Division I Indoor Track and Field All-America accolade after placing 16th in the mile at the NCAA Championship.
Criste earned her fifth career Patriot League Coach of the Year award after leading Navy to the league outdoor title. The Mids rallied from a fifth-place standing on the final day of competition to win the team title, taking four individual titles and eight runner-up finishes to place 23 points ahead of second-place Bucknell. Navy was also the runner-up at the Patriot League Indoor Championship.
In addition to Palacio competing at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championship, the Mids sent three athletes to the NCAA's East Regional Outdoor Championship. Navy also had five ECAC All-East performers (two indoor and three outdoor).
In 2010-11, Criste led Navy to the indoor Patriot League Championship in 2010-11 and was named the Patriot League Coach of the Year. Navy also swept the indoor/outdoor Star Meet series with Army for the third straight season. Navy blew away Army, 129-73, at the outdoor Star Meet for its largest margin of victory ever over its rival.
The Midshipmen would post their second-straight undefeated year in 2009-10. The indoor team was 10-0 in dual-scored meets and the outdoor team was 3-0. It was also the second straight year that the women's track team won both the indoor and outdoor N-Star meets and the ninth sweep overall. Criste also earned her second straight Patriot League Indoor Coach of the Year award.
At the helm in 2008-09, Criste guided the Mids to one of their most memorable seasons in program history. After being picked to finish fourth in the Patriot League's preseason poll, Navy rode its distance corps and a spirited underclassmen group to the program's second indoor track championship. For her efforts, Criste was named the Patriot League Coach of the Year for the second time in her career.
In 2007, Navy recorded a ninth-place team score at the ECAC Championship during the outdoor slate, its highest finish since moving up to the Division I ranks in 1991-92. In that same outdoor season, the Mids also scored at the NCAA East Region Championship for the first time since the regional was added in 2003.
In addition to her team's performance on the track, Criste's student-athletes have also done their part in the classroom. Navy produced both the Patriot League's Indoor and Outdoor Track Scholar-Athletes of the Year in three-consecutive years, with distance standout Erica Ziel claiming the honor during both the winter and spring slates during the 2008-09 season.
Before Ziel, it was Vicki Moore, the Class of 2008 Valedictorian with a perfect 4.00 GPA, who was named the conference's top track student-athlete in 2007-08. The year prior, Kirsten Andrews ('07) became the first Navy women's track & field member to be selected Patriot League Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year for all sports. Andrews would graduate as one of the Academy's most decorated student-athletes, having twice earned Academic All-America honors during her decorated career.
Criste's track & field team was awarded the Naval Academy Athletic Director's Cup for being the most successful all-around team for the 2007-08 athletic season.
Criste came to the Academy in 1991 after spending three years as an assistant with the women's program at George Mason, where she oversaw the jumps, sprints, hurdles and multi-events. There, five athletes earned All-America status and two became NCAA champions under her tutelage. The Patriots also captured the ECAC Division I Championship in each of her three seasons.
Criste has also been recognized on the national scene. She was selected as the field events coach for the 1993 U.S. Olympic Festival and coached the East team to victory, marking the East's first-win in the history of the festival. In 1999, Criste was named head coach for that year's Pan Am Games in Winnipeg, Canada.
She also served as head coach of the 1995 U.S. National Track & Field Team, which consisted of men's and women's junior and senior teams that came together for a series of meets against Canada. Criste guided the U.S. team to wins in all four meets.
A standout performer in her own right, Criste was a four-year letterwinner in track at Penn State, serving as captain of the Nittany Lion women's squad in 1985-86. She was an NCAA qualifier in the triple jump and was a national qualifier and ECAC record holder in both the pentathlon and heptathlon.
After graduating from Penn State with a degree in nutritional science in 1986, she went on to earn her master's degree in exercise physiology from West Virginia in 1988. While at West Virginia, Criste served as an assistant track & field coach, handling the Mountaineers' jumps, sprints, hurdles and multi-events.
After concluding her own collegiate career, Criste continued competing at the national level. For three years (1986-89) she competed at the U.S. Olympic Festival and was a member of the U.S. National Team from 1986-91. She was nationally ranked in both the triple jump and multi-events, representing the United States in several international team competitions.
The daughter of Joan and Dave Criste (USNA `60), Criste also serves as an Assistant Athletic Director and professor at the Academy.
Overall Record Pct.
at Navy: 316-51-1 .860
Vs. Army 25-14-1 .638
Indoor Record Pct.
Overall 186-34-1 .844
Vs. Army 12-7-1 .625
Outdoor Record Pct.
Overall 130-17 .884
Vs. Army 13-7 .650
Criste's Coaching Highlights
Navy (1991-Present) - Head Coach
Compiled a 316-51-1 (.860) record
Five-time Patriot League Coach of the Year
Five Patriot League titles (Indoor: 2001, 2009, 2011; Outdoor: 2003, 2012)
Two Division I All-Americans
Five top-20 teams at ECAC Championship
George Mason (1989-91) - Assistant Coach
Coached five athletes to All-America honors, two to national titles
West Virginia (1987-88) - Assistant Coach
Earned master's degree in exercise physiology
Other Coaching Positions
U.S. Pan Am Team (1999) - Head Coach
U.S. Olympic Festival (1993) - Field Coach
U.S. Olympic Festival East Team (1994) - Head Coach
Guided team to first victory