position Assistant Coach - Distance and Cross Country
Alma Mater Toledo '03
Sara Vergote enters her seventh season as an assistant distance/cross country coach at Ohio State. Vergote has helped transform the Ohio State women’s cross country team into a contender at the national level and developed the Buckeyes’ distance runners into consistent point scorers on the track.
In 2019, Vergote coached multiple athletes to new school records and Top Eight finishes at the Big Ten Championships. At the Big Ten Indoor Track and Field Championships, Abby 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, Vergote led her distance group to four new school records in the 10k (Christine Frederick); indoor and outdoor 5k (Abby Nichols); and steeplechase (Sarah Kanney).
In 2018, under 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, Vergote coached the women’s cross country team to an eighth-place showing at the Great Lakes Regional in Madison, Wisconsin, 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, Vergote led the Ohio State’s women’s cross country team to its second-ever 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 team 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.
OSU 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 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, 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, Vergote spent the 2012-2013 season as an assistant track coach at Iowa State. In her lone 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, Vergote was the associate head coach for cross country and track and field at her alma mater from 2008-2012. During her time on staff the Rockets won a pair of MAC cross country championships and qualified for the NCAA championships twice. Vergote was also an assistant coach at Manhattan College for three seasons.
Vergote was a member of three nationally ranked Toledo cross country teams from 2000-2002. The Rockets won the Mid-American Conference Championship in 2001 and 2002 with Vergote finishing as MAC runner-up in 2002. She was a two-time NCAA Qualifier and MAC 10K champion in 2003. She is a member of the University of Toledo Athletic Hall of Fame.
Vergote graduated in 2003 from the University of Toledo 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. Sara lives in Columbus with her wife, Dr. Rebecca Mason, and their daughter, Lola.
Vergote Coaching Career
2013-Present: Assistant Coach/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