Pete Watson is in his fourth season as assistant track and field coach and head men’s cross country coach after joining the Cavaliers’ staff in January 2012. Watson had previously been the head cross country and assistant head track and field coach at North Carolina since 2009.
In 2014-15, the Cavalier distance runners had strong performances throughout the year. The success began during the cross country season as Virginia won the NCAA Southeast Regional for the second time in three years and finished 21st at the NCAA Championships. Following the cross country season, Watson was honored as the USTFCCCA Southeast Region Coach of the Year. During the indoor season, Watson coached the Cavaliers’ ACC Champion DMR, which also finished sixth at the NCAA Championships. The year concluded with seven Cavalier distance runners qualifying for the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds during the outdoor season, including Kyle King who advanced to the NCAA Championships in the steeplechase for the second consecutive year and Henry Wynne in the 1,500 meters.
In 2013-14, Watson led the Cavalier distance runners to strong performances in both cross country and track. Virginia finished 13th at the NCAA Cross Country Championships, highlighted by Kyle King’s 18th-place finish, the highest ever for a UVa runner at the meet. In the spring, King won the 3000m steeplechase title at the ACC Outdoor Championships and was one of three Virginia distance runners to compete at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. King earned second-team All-America honors in the steeplechase, while Thomas Porter and Adam Visokay both qualified in the 10,000m, with Porter earning second-team All-America status for the second consecutive year.
Watson guided the men’s cross country team to its first NCAA Southeast Regional Championship in 2012, with all five members of scoring team earning All-Southeast Region honors, including Zach Gates, Kyle King, Thomas Porter, Mark Amirault and Drew Paisley. The men, who finished second at the Atlantic Coast Conference Championships, went on to finish 14th at the NCAA Championships, with Gates earning All-America honors for a 22nd-place finish. In the following spring, he led Virginia’s distance medley relay of Taylor Gilland, Payton Hazzard, Brandon Burton and Anthony Kostelac to a 10th place finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships and guided Amirault (5,000m) and Porter (10,000m) to appearances at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
In his first track and field year with Virginia (2011-12), Watson tutored Sean Keveren to All-America honors in the 10,000 meters at the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Championships and All-ACC accolades in the 5,000m and 10,000m. Watson coached King to a second-place finish in the 5,000 meters at the USATF Junior National Championships. King then on to represent the United States at the 2012 IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona, Spain, where he placed 13th in the 5,000m.
Watson, who brought in the No. 1 men’s cross country recruiting class in 2010 according to FloTrack.com, guided Kendra Schaaf to the 2011 ACC women’s individual title and her second consecutive All-America honor. He mentored the Tar Heels to back-to-back third-place finishes at the ACC Men’s Cross Country Championships. Furthermore, both the men and women were honored as 2010 United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association All-Academic Teams.
In addition to his cross country exploits, Watson coached Ashley Verplank to All-America Second Team honors in the 1,500-meter run during the 2011 indoor season and Schaaf to a Second-Team All-America nod in the 2011 outdoor 5,000-meter run. In three years, he guided 14 Tar Heels to the NCAA East Preliminary Round and four to the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Watson’s athletes were also successful at the international level with Jake Hurysz winning gold in the 5,000m and Isaac Presson claiming silver in the 1,500m for Team USA at the 2011 Pan American Junior Championships.
Before his time in Chapel Hill, N.C., Watson was the head cross country and assistant track and field coach at Auburn from 2005-08. He led the Tigers to a school-best fifth-place finish at the 2008 NCAA Men’s Cross Country Championships and helped guide Auburn to the 2006 NCAA Women’s Outdoor Track and Field crown.
Watson led five Tigers to All-America honors in cross country, including four in 2008. Angela Homan placed 30th in 2005 as Watson’s first All-American.
At the NCAA Championships under Watson’s tutelage, Homan placed fifth in the outdoor 10,000m and ninth in the indoor 5,000m in 2006 and Holly Knight placed eighth in outdoor 5,000m in 2008.
In addition, Girma Mecheso won the 2008 SEC Cross Country title, while Felix Kibioywo captured the 2007 and 2008 NCAA South Region crowns, the 2008 SEC 1,500m title and qualified for the finals of the 5,000m at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Watson graduated from West Virginia in 2001 and was a volunteer coach there. The London, Ontario native was a member of the 2000 and 2001 Canadian National Track and Field Team, winning bronze in the 5,000m at the 2001 Canadian Track and Field Championships.