A seven-time Mid-South Conference Coach of the Year, Eric Putnam enters his 10th season as a head coach of the men’s cross country team at Shawnee State in 2014. He is also in his eighth season as the head coach of the women’s team, while also serving as the head coach of both the men’s and women’s track & field teams. In addition to his head coaching responsibilities, Putnam also works in the athletic department as an Assistant Athletic Director.
During his tenure as head coach, the Bears have established a new standard for excellence. Since Shawnee State’s transition to the Mid-South Conference, the Bears have yet to be beaten at the conference meet and are four-time reigning champions on both the men’s and women’s side. This has earned him Coach of the Year four years running on the men’s side (2010-13) and three Coach of the Year honors on the women’s side (2010, 12-13).
As the men’s cross country coach…
Shawnee State’s success has not been limited to the conference level as it has qualified as a team for the NAIA National Championships in seven of his nine seasons while sending two individuals in each of the other two years. His streak of consecutive NAIA appearances has spanned the last six seasons which have also been the most successful seasons in program history.
In addition to sending an entire squad to the National Championships during the past six years, Putnam’s men’s team has finished in the top 10 in the country during each of the last five seasons and was 11th in the year before that. Each of the five NAIA All-Americans in men’s cross country history have come during this six-year stretch. In 2009 and 2010, Putnam coaches the Bears to a program-best fourth-place finish at the national championships, before following that up with a ninth-place finish in 2011. His men’s team has placed seventh in each of the past two seasons. The 2013 season saw the Bears finish with an All-American for the third straight season. That run to All-America honors by Brad Liston was also the highest finish by a men’s runner in program history as Liston placed sixth at the NAIA Championships.
In total, Putnam has sent 53 men’s cross country runners to the NAIA Championships. He has also coached the Mid-South Conference Runner of the Year in each of his first four seasons in the conference and the MSC Freshman of the Year in two of those three seasons. Fifty runners have garnered All-Conference accolades under Putnam, 30 of which have come in the past four seasons. The men’s side has won 21 races as a team while 16 individuals have been the top finisher against a schedule that consistently features NCAA Division I meets. There has been at least one team win and one individual win during each of Putnam’s first eight seasons.
As the women’s cross country coach …
As the women’s head coach for the past eight years, the Bears have steadily improved their conference finish during each season under Putnam. The team hit a milestone during the 2010 season when they captured the first conference championship in school history during their first season in the Mid-South Conference and have not been beaten at the conference meet since. That streak currently sits at four consecutive Mid-South Conference Championships.
The Bears also experienced another first under Putnam during the 2008 season when the squad qualified as a team for the NAIA Champioinships for the first time in school history and posted its best-ever finish of 13th overall as Lisa Davies and Star Emmert each earned All-American accolades during that race – the only time in school history for either the men’s or women’s team that they have had two All-Americans in the same season. The past fall’s team matched that finish with another 13th-place finish at the NAIA Championships in 2013. Earning the automatic bid in each of the past four seasons to the national championships, the women have also placed 25th in 2010, 21st in 2011 and 23rd in 2012.
In addition to qualifying the team in five of his eight seasons, a total of 41 runners have qualified for the national championships, including at least one during each of his seasons as head coach. Five of the program’s six All-Americans have also been coached under Putnam with the most recent coming in 2013 when Halle Richards placed 17th individually in the 2013 NAIA Championship. At the conference level, Putnam has had two runners named MSC Runner of the Year while also coaching his first MSC Freshman of the Year on the women’s side in 2012. Thirty-one runners have earned All-Conference accolades during the past eight seasons, including 21 during the run of four straight MSC Championships. Running a tough schedule each year that features multiple NCAA Division I meets, the Bears have won eight races as a team and had the top individual finisher in 11 meets under Putnam.
As the track & field coach …
With the transition to the Mid-South Conference, Shawnee State Athletics elevated men’s and women’s track & field from a club sport to the 12th and 13th varsity sports at SSU. The track & field program continues to grow under Putnam and competed in throwing events for the first time during the 2013 season, while adding jumps this past spring.
The 2014 season saw both outdoor track teams post new team highs in points at the Mid-South Conference Championships. The men placed fourth overall with a program-best five champions at the conference meet. The women matched their best performance in program history with a sixth-place finish and crowned two MSC Championships for the first time in program history. In total, Putnam has coached nine MSC Champions on the men’s side and three more on the women’s side.
At the national meet, the men sent a program record four qualifiers to the national championships in 2014, while the women qualified two separate individuals for the first time as a varsity program. The 2014 season was also the first time the Bears qualified a relay as the men’s 4x800 ran at the national championships. In total, the men have seen 15 qualifiers to the NAIA meet with one All-American during the 2011 season in Michael Owen (marathon) when he placed third overall. The women have qualified six runners to the NAIA Championships. Putnam’s 21 national qualifiers in four years of varsity track have come in a total of six different events.
Prior to Shawnee State …
Prior to joining Shawnee State, Putnam coached Chillicothe High School to a district championship in 2003 and a district runner-up finish in 2004. In 2003, two Chillicothe runners qualified for the state championship meet. He also served as an assistant cross country and track coach at Xavier University for two seasons (2001-03).
A graduate of Ohio University, Putnam also enjoyed a very successful collegiate running career. From 1991-96, he ran cross country and track for the Bobcats, earning seven varsity letters. He earned All-Mid-American Conference honors seven times and was the individual MAC champion in the 1,500-meter run in 1996, running 3:48. He was co-MVP of the team in 1996 and was a three-time team captain.
Putnam established many accomplishments through his high school career at Chillicothe High School. He was a four-time state individual cross country qualifier in Division I, including a state runner-up finish in 1989. He was also a three-time state qualifier in track and field, including a fourth place finish in the 1600 meter run and fifth in the 3200 meter relay in 1991.
He has been winning road races of various distances all over Ohio for more than a decade. He was the 2005 Run Ohio Grand Prix Co-Champion in 2005 and the 2006 Huntington Half Marathon Champion with a time of 1:09:04. Putnam has also won the Shawnee State Bear run a record 10 times.
Putnam resides in Portsmouth with his wife, Krista, and their sons, Charles and Ian.
|Steven Adams||SO||Pickaway County, Ohio||Teays Valley|
|Devon Applegate||JR||Minford, Ohio||Minford HS|
|AJ Barber||SR||Galena, Ohio||Muskingum College|
|Parker Blain||SR||Marietta, Ohio||Warren HS|
|Matthew Cheeseman||SR||Lowell, Ohio||Fort Frye HS|
|Austin Divelbiss||SR||Fredericktown, Ohio||Fredericktown HS|
|Seth Farmer||JR||Waverly, Ohio||Piketon HS|
|Conner Flynn||SO||Proctorville, Ohio||Fairland HS|
|David Jaeger||JR||Liberty Township, Ohio||Lakota East HS|
|Jacob Kemper||SO||Gallia County, Ohio||River Valley HS|
|Caleb Kennely||JR||Circleville, Ohio||Westfall HS|
|Quinn Lyle||SO||Columbiana, Ohio||East Liverpool HS|
|Chad McComas||SR||Proctorville, Ohio||Fairland HS|
|Seth Miller||SO||Ironton, Ohio||Rock Hill HS|
|Andrew Polanco||SR||Woodbridge, N.J.||Woodbridge HS|
|Cody Redman||SR||Circleville, Ohio||Teays Valley HS|
|Owen Reeher||SO||Kinsman, Ohio||Joseph Badger HS|
|Ethan Richter||SR||Chillicothe, Ohio||Unioto HS|
|Austin Ridenour||JR||Williamsport, Ohio||Westfall HS|
|Adrian Ross||SR||Chillicothe, Ohio||Ohio State University|
|Mark Scott||SO||Kingston, Ohio||Zane Trace HS|
|Tim Secoy||SO||Ironton, Ohio||Rock Hill HS|