Track & Field



Strong Of Heart: Joe Piane

A profile on legendary Notre Dame track and cross country coach as he prepares to retire after 39 seasons.


Legendary Irish Track Coach Joe Piane Retires After 39 Seasons

Piane departs following second-longest tenure of any coach in Notre Dame athletics history.

Will return for a fifth year of eligibility in track for 2003 after missing the 2001 season due to a knee injury.

AS A SENIOR: Combined with teammate and fellow All-American Ryan Shay to provide the Irish with one of the best cross country lead-runner combinations in the nation ... helped the team acheive its highest-ever national ranking (fifth) while finishing in the top five in all six races he competed in ... began the 2001 cross country season at the National Catholic Invitational, finishing side-by-side with Shay to take second place and lead the Irish to a team victory ... came back to the same course two weeks later and won his second- consecutive Notre Dame Invitational title in 24:06 ... set the stage for his All-America finish at the national meet with a fourth-place effort at the Pre-National Meet ... led the team to victory at the BIG EAST Championship, earning all-BIG EAST honors with a second-place finish ... helped the Irish to another noteworthy victory at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional, taking third place in 30:37.3, as the team took first place and assured an automatic berth in the NCAA Championship ... ran side-by-side with Shay once again at the NCAA Championship, taking fifth place (Shay finished sixth) to earn All-America honors for the second consecutive season ... named the 2001 Notre Dame cross country National Monogram Club Most Valuable Player ... began the 2002 track and field season in memorable fashion at the Tri-Meet against Michigan State and Ball State, running away with the 3,000 meters in 8:14.52 to automatically qualify for the NCAA Championship ... stepped down to the mile run during the dual meet with Michigan State, taking first in 4:10.06 ... established the school record in the 3,000 meters at the Meyo Invitational, blistering the field in 7:54.02 ... finished three seconds behind Shay in the 3,000 meters at the BIG EAST Championship, earning all-BIG EAST honors with a second-place 8:12.44 effort ... competed in the mile one more time during the indoor season at the Alex Wilson Invitational, just missing the coveted sub-four minute mile with a first-place 4:01.10 effort ... earned his first track All-America honor at the 2002 NCAA Indoor Championship in Fayetteville, Ark., taking third in the 3,000 meters (8:02.18) ... began the 2002 outdoor season at the Stanford Invitational and finished sixth in the top section of the 5,000 meters (13:44.92) ... the 13:44.92 time set the school record ... won the 1,500 meters at the Spring Opener in 3:48.55 ... competed in his outdoor specialty, the steeplechase, for the first time of the season at the Tom Botts Invitational, winning in 8:50.68 ... continued to improve his steeplechase time at the Mt. SAC Relays, finishing fourth in 8:38.20 ... combined with teammates Pat Conway, Eric Morrison and Kevin Somok to win the prestigious 4x1,600-meter relay at the Drake Relays ... the 16:35.34 time at Drake gave the Irish team their first victory in the longest relay at the event in 60 years ... earned the BIG EAST Championship Most Outstanding Track Performer award at the 2002 outdoor meet, winning the 3,000-meter steepelchase in school-record time (8:37.61) and the 5,000 meters (13:59.38) ... suffered a fall during the preliminaries of the steeplechase at the NCAA Championship in Baton Rouge, La., but still qualified for the finals and finished seventh (8:39.12) to earn All-America honors ... the fall in the steeplechase preliminaries kept Watson out of the 5,000 meter race ... returned to the track a week later to represent Notre Dame at the Minnesota Distance Classic, setting a school record in the mile (4:00.68) ... competed at the USA Track and Field Championship in Palo Alto, Calif., finishing 17th in the steeplechase (8:41.66) ... ended up earning Academic All-America honors for the first time in his career, making the CoSIDA/Verizon Academic All-America second-team with a 3.381 GPA.

AS A JUNIOR: Stepped up to lead the Irish cross country team after the loss of lead runner Ryan Shay to an injury ... developed into one of the best harriers in the country, earning All-America status and posting four individual victories ... earned All-America status for the first time in his career at the 2000 NCAA Cross Country Championship in Ames, Iowa, taking seventh place in 30:29.40 ... that effort helped the Irish team finish ninth overall ... prepared for his NCAA finals race by winning the Great Lakes Regional individual title in 30:47.10 ... posted an impressive victory at the Notre Dame Invitational, outrunning a competitive field for first place in 23:56 ... began the cross country season with a victory in the Valparaiso Invitational, followed by a first-place effort in the National Catholic Invitational at Notre Dame ... placed fourth in the Pre-National meet in Ames, Iowa, with a time of 30:52.30 ... helped the team place fourth (behind three ranked opponents) at the 2000 BIG EAST Cross Country Championship with a seventh-place effort (23:44) ... unable to compete during the indoor and outdoor track and field seasons due to an injury.

AS A SOPHOMORE: One of the top two cross country runners on the team in 1999 ... finished second behind teammate Ryan Shay at the National Catholic ... helped lead the team to the BIG EAST cross country title with a third- place finish at the championship meet ... took 12th place at the District IV Championships, helping the team to a second-place finish and a trip to the NCAA cross country championship meet ... finished second on the team and 58th overall at the NCAA cross country championships ... concentrated on the mile run for the 2000 indoor season ... best time of the season (4:06.75) came in the Meyo Mile at the Meyo Invitational ... earned all-BIG EAST accolades for his third-place finish at the BIG EAST indoor championship meet ... combined with teammates Chris Cochran, Tim Kober and Phil Mishka to earn All-America honors in the distance medley relay at the NCAA Championship, finishing sixth ... specialized in the steeplechase for the outdoor season, improving into one of the best steeplechase runners in the nation ... finished first in the steeplechase at the BIG EAST outdoor championship ... ran his career-best time in the steeplechase at the Gatorade Twilight meet, taking first in 8:46.77 and qualifying for an NCAA championship berth ... competed in his third NCAA championship of the year (cross country, indoor with the men's distance medley team, and the outdoor).

AS A FRESHMAN: Won the 1999 U.S. Junior Cross Country Championship ... ran the 8K race in 23:26 at the Lake Spanway Golf Course in Tacoma, Wash. ... represented the United States at the 1999 World Junior Cross Country Championships in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on March 28 ... 34th out of the 155 runners (28:18) and was the third American to cross the finish line at the world championships ... Notre Dame cross country team's number-two runner in '98 ... earned all-BIG EAST honors with a seventh-place finish ... best finish was fourth at the National Catholic Invitational, while he also finished sixth at the Wolf & Kettle Invitational ... posted a career-best time of 4:17.56 in the indoor mile at the Red Simmons Invitational ... runner-up in the 3,000 in a time of 8:20.74 against Indiana ... posted the team's best outdoor time of 8:56.70 in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the Mt. SAC Invitational ... competed at the BIG EAST championships in the 3,000-meter steeplechase (fifth) and the 5,000 (sixth), where he ran his career-best time of 14:37.06.

HIGH SCHOOL AND PERSONAL DATA: Earned 12 letters in cross country, track and field and nordic skiing... went undefeated his senior season in cross country and track ... only lost once from November 1996 to June 1998 in either cross country and track ... won the Minnesota state cross country championships his senior year ...track All-American in the 4x800-meter relay and the 2,000-meter steeplechase ... holds state record in three relays and the steeplechase ... also has his school's record in the 1,600 meters ...cross country and track teams won three state titles each ... six-time all-state selection from sophomore through senior years in three sports ... nordic ski team was state champion in 1996 and second place in 1997-98 ... born Aug. 20, 1980, in Minneapolis, Minn. ... graduated with a degree from the Mendoza College of Business in June of 2002 ... working on his master's degree while competing for a fifth year in track and field during the 2002-03 school year.

Luke Watson
Luke  Watson


Stillwater, MN

High School:




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