position Head Cross Country Coach/Assistant Track and Field Coach (Distance/Mid-Distance)
Alma Mater Toledo '03
Sara Mason Vergote, who has been on the Ohio State cross country/track and field staff since 2013-14, was elevated to head cross country coach/assistant track and field coach in July 2022. She solely oversees all aspects of the cross country, distance and mid-distance student-athletes.
Mason Vergote has been part of nine Big Ten championship teams since joining the staff, including outdoor titles for both the men and women in 2022. The women’s squad also won the 2019 and ’21 outdoor crowns and the 2015, ’19 and ’20 indoor trophies, while the men were the 2018 indoor and outdoor champs. She helped lead the women’s cross country program to NCAA team appearances in 2014 and 2019 and five Top 5 team finishes at the Big Ten meet.
Individually, Abby Nichols won the 2019 Big Ten outdoor 5k, the first distance title for the Buckeyes in 25 years, while Katie Borchers was a three-time conference champion in the 800m. Ohio State has had an all-conference performer in cross country each of the last three seasons and nine cross country all-region accolades during Mason Vergote’s tenure.
In 2021, Mason Vergote guided Allie Guagenti to a fifth-place finish at the Big Ten cross country championships and Guagenti went on to finish fifth in the mile at the NCAA indoor championships. The following year, Addie Engel made her first NCAA appearance following Top 5 finishes at the Big Ten and NCAA Regional championships. During the indoor season Engel set the school record in the 3,000m and four other Top 5 times were recorded by the women. During the outdoor season eight Top 5 times were set by the women and men combined.
In 2019, Mason Vergote coached multiple athletes to school records and Top 8 finishes at the Big Ten Championships. At the Big Ten Indoor Track and Field Championships, Nichols finished fourth in the 5k, and went on to win the 5k at the Big Ten Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Nichols’ first-place finish represented the first women’s conference title in a distance event since 1985, landing her yet another school record and clinching the team title for the women’s team. Two days prior, distance runner Evan Stiefel finished fifth in the men’s 10k in a loaded field. Nichols went on to qualify to the NCAA regional meet in the 5k, along with five other distance runners, and ultimately finished 17th in the country at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships in Austin, Texas. By the end of the 2019 season, Mason Vergote led her distance group to four school records in the 10k (Christine Frederick); indoor and outdoor 5k (Abby Nichols); and steeplechase (Sarah Kanney).
In 2018, under Mason Vergote’s direction, Christine Frederick qualified to the final round of the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in the 10k. In 2016, Vergote led a young women’s cross country team to the verge of clinching a berth to the NCAA Championships. Boasting a roster littered with talented underclassmen and great senior leadership, Ohio State registered a sixth-place showing at the Great Lakes Regional, falling just short of a bid to the Big Dance.
In 2015, Mason Vergote coached the women’s cross country team to an eighth-place showing at the Great Lakes Regional in Madison, Wis., led all season by the Minagawa twins, Minori and Sakiko, who paced the Scarlet and Gray during their final season on campus.
In the fall of 2014, Mason Vergote led the Ohio State’s women’s cross country team to its second appearance at the NCAA Championships, finishing 26th overall. In that same season, the team earned a fourth-place finish at the Big Ten Championships, equaling the best team finish at the conference championships in school history. The Buckeyes cracked the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Top 20 for the first time, peaking at No. 19 in the rankings.
Ohio State featured a close-knit, veteran group in 2014, led by seniors Katie Borchers and Michelle Thomas. Borchers became the first two-time All-American, All-Great Lakes region and All-Big Ten performer in school history, while Thomas collected the third All-Region award of her career.
Under Mason Vergote’s guidance, Borchers further cemented her status as the top female distance runner in Ohio State history during the track and field season, earning All-America honors in the 800m run and gold medals in the 800m run at both the Big Ten indoor and outdoor championships, all while setting nine school records throughout the season (four individual, five relay). The distance team was an important contributor to Ohio State’s 2015 Big Ten women’s indoor title, scoring 20 of the Buckeyes’ 84 team points at the conference meet.
In 2013, her first season with the Buckeyes, Mason Vergote led the cross country team to a fifth-place finish at the Big Ten Championships, Ohio State’s highest finish at the conference meet in 29 years. Thomas and Borchers finished fourth and sixth, respectively, earning First Team All-Big Ten honors and joining Maureen Cogan (1984) and Kathryn Monard (1986) as the only first-team selections in school history. The duo also captured All-Great Lakes Region honors, with Borchers advancing as an individual to the NCAA Championships, where she earned All-America recognition with a 40th-place finish. Borchers would go on to win the 800m run title at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships on her way to Honorable Mention All-America honors during the outdoor track season.
A former Mid-American Conference (MAC) champion at the University of Toledo, Mason Vergote spent the 2012-2013 season as an assistant track coach at Iowa State. In her season with the Cyclones, ISU placed ninth at the NCAA indoor championships and 13th at the outdoor national meet, while All-American Betsy Saina captured a national title in the 10,000-meter run.
Prior to Iowa State, Mason Vergote was the associate head coach for cross country and track and field at her alma mater from 2008-12. During her time on staff the Rockets won a pair of MAC cross country championships and qualified for the NCAA championships twice. Mason Vergote was also an assistant coach at Manhattan College for three seasons.
Mason Vergote was a member of three nationally ranked Toledo cross country teams from 2000-02. The Rockets won the Mid-American Conference Championship in 2001 and 2002 with Mason Vergote finishing as MAC runner-up in 2002. She was a two-time NCAA Qualifier and the MAC 10K champion in 2003. She is a member of the University of Toledo Athletic Hall of Fame.
Mason Vergote graduated from the University of Toledo in 2003 with a bachelor’s of science in education and biology. She also holds a master’s degree in sports management from the University of Massachusetts and served as an intern in the compliance office at Ohio University for one year prior to coaching at Manhattan. Mason Vergote lives in Columbus with her wife, Dr. Rebecca Mason Vergote, and their two children, Lola and Nico.
Mason Vergote Coaching Career
2022-Present: Head Cross Country Coach/Assistant Coach (distance/mid-distance), Ohio State
2013-2022: Assistant Track & Field Coach/Associate Head Cross Country Coach, Ohio State
2012-13: Assistant Coach, Iowa State
2008-12: Associate Head Coach, Toledo
2005-08: Assistant Coach/Cross Country Coach, Manhattan