KEENE, N.H.--Keene State College cross country and track and field head coach Tom Pickering has announced his resignation, effective December 20.
"I feel that the time is right, at the end of this semester, and after the conclusion of the current cross-country season, for me to move on to explore other opportunities and to continue to learn and grow as a person and professional," said Pickering.
"The past five years at Keene State have been a very special experience for me. It has been a period of significant challenge and change at the college. I have had the rare opportunity to work with five different Athletic Directors at Keene State since 2014. I am especially thankful for the privilege of sharing countless mutual-growth experiences with the student-athletes and coaches with whom I have had the pleasure of working daily. I will always cherish the memories and I deeply appreciate their passion for seeking excellence and personal improvement. I whole-heartedly believe that the Keene State track & field program has enormous potential to serve as a beacon of light, attraction, and opportunity for growth and success for the college and the community."
"Tom has served Keene State strongly and has been a great asset through his time as assistant coach, interim head coach, and permanent head coach through the past five years," said KSC Director of Athletics and Recreation Phil Racicot. "He has been deeply committed to the success of his student-athletes, and Keene State thanks him for his commitment to the program over that time. We wish him nothing but the best in the future."
After three years as an assistant coach, Pickering was installed as the interim coach for the program in October 2014 and was was named permanently to the post in April 2015. He led KSC to three women's Little East Conference cross country championships (2015, 2016, 2018), while the men's team captured the LEC championship in 2015 and were second in both 2016 and 2017.
In cross country, Pickering guided the Owl women to a team qualification for the NCAA Championships in 2015, while that same year, Hayden Patterson became the first KSC men's cross country runner to qualify individually since 2013.
He tutored three LEC Women's Runner of the Year award winners, including Kait Wheeler (2015), Lindsay Szuch (2016), and Lauren Perkowski (2018), as well as Philip Parent, who was the LEC Men's Runner of the Year in 2015. All four were the LEC individual cross country champion during those years, while 12 women and 10 men earned All-Conference honors under his watch. Pickering himself was named the women's LEC Coach of the Year three times, in 2015, 2016, and 2018, and the men's LEC Coach of the Year in 2015.
In track and field, the Owls had three NCAA qualifiers during his tenure, including Katelyn Terry (800m), Lauren Perkowski (3,000m and 5,000m), and Joey Fodor (javelin), and 18 different school records were set.
On the men's side, the Owls won 19 individual and relay conference championships. Katelyn Terry, Lauren Perkowski, and Shannon Parks all received major awards, while KSC piled up 36 women's individual and relay conference championships. The Owl women placed second at the 2016 and 2019 LEC Indoor Championships, as well as second in the LEC Outdoor Championships in 2015, 2016, and 2019.
In 2018-19, his final full year as head coach, the Keene State women's cross country, indoor, and outdoor track and field teams matched their best ever finishes, winning the LEC cross country championship and finishing second in both the indoor and outdoor LEC Championships. KSC also swept the Female Athlete of the Year in all three sports.
"In the fall of 2014, circumstances put me into a position to step into the role as head coach of an accomplished and proud program here at Keene State. I want to thank then-Athletic Director John Ratliff for trusting me to take the reins during that period," said Pickering. "The opportunity to help see this program through a challenging period at Keene State was one that I was determined to take on and to dedicate myself fully."
"I also wish to thank Vice President for Student Affairs, Dr. Kemal Atkins and the selection committee in 2015 for granting me the opportunity to serve as permanent Head Coach of Men's and Women's Cross Country and Indoor/Outdoor Track & Field at Keene State College. I will forever be grateful for the privilege of serving in this role and for the many wonderful experiences over the past five years."
Keene State will commence a national search to find Pickering's replacement in the coming days.