For over a quarter of a century, Dennis Rice has been behind the success of The College of Wooster’s men’s and women’s cross country and track & field programs. Now in his 31st year as head coach after serving four years as an assistant, Rice has developed a well-deserved reputation for his ability to train student-athletes to reach their full potential.
During his 35 years on the coaching staff, the Fighting Scots have won six North Coast Athletic Conference team championships in cross country, highlighted by three-straight for the women from 1996-98, and seven in track & field (four indoor, three outdoor). For his efforts, Rice has been recognized as the conference’s Coach of the Year four times in cross country and four times in track & field. He was also named the Ohio Div. III Cross Country Coach of the Year in 1996 after guiding the women’s team to a school-best 15th-place finish at the NCAA Championships.
Individually, 38 Scots have competed at the NCAA Championships in cross country (eight men, 12 women) and track & field (six men, 12 women) during Rice’s tenure. He’s helped produce a five-time All-American in distance specialist Katie Wieferich, who finished her Wooster career with two third-place finishes in the 10,000 meters and a pair of top-five runs in the 5000 meters, as well as a trio of three-time All-Americans in Hilary Coady, Emily Moorefield, and Reggie Ray. Coady, a multi-event specialist, capped her career with a runner-up finish in the heptathlon, and was the second indoor All-American in program history via a third-place pentathlon finish. Moorefield, also a distance specialist, posted two top-20 showings at the national cross country meet and a fourth-place performance in the 1500 meters, while Ray, a sprinter, placed among the top-eight at NCAA’s in the 100 meters once and the 200 meters twice. In all, Scot individuals have been crowned conference champs 206 times in cross country/indoor and outdoor track & field combined, to go with 42 relay championships.
Along with the numerous athletic successes, Rice’s teams also excel in the classroom. Wooster’s student-athletes annually appear on the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association All-Academic Teams, and women’s cross country regularly finishes with the highest team GPA at the school each academic year.
On an individual level, Rice's charges have earned highly prestigious honors, highlighted by Claire Roberts' NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship in 1994 and Erin Plews-Ogan's Elite 89 award in 2013. In all, track & field and cross country student-athletes have earned eight Academic All-America® certificates during Rice’s tenure.
A graduate of Edinboro University in northeast Pennsylvania, Rice was inducted into his alma mater’s athletic Hall of Fame after serving as a team captain in cross country and track and earning two All-American citations for one of NCAA Div. II’s premier running programs. He went on to serve as an assistant coach at Edinboro prior to coming to Wooster.