Since forming the St. Olaf women’s cross country team in 1976 with just five student-athletes, head coach Chris Daymont has been the constant that connects a tradition of more than 1,000 women who have come through the program since.
Not only one of the nation’s most prominent female coaches but one of the most successful regardless of gender, Daymont remains at the helm of what she has developed into one of the MIAC’s winningest successful programs after 33 years going on 34.
Her squads have been to the NCAA Championships 19 times, finishing as high as fourth in 1999 among 12 total top-10 team finishes. In guiding the Oles to those national successes, she has mentored 33 student-athletes to 81 total All-America honors.
St. Olaf’s national success under Daymont has been built on the foundation of excellence at the conference level. During her tenure, the Oles have claimed nine MIAC cross country team titles, including five consecutive wins 1998 through 2002 and three straight titles from 1993 to 1995.
Her squad also won the program’s first MIAC title in 1986, her first year back after a hiatus from St. Olaf spent at Bloomsburg and Macalester lasting from 1981 through 1986.
She also served as the head women’s track & field coach through 2010 when she announced her retirement from the winter and spring seasons. Twenty-nine of her student-athletes combined for a total of 70 All-America certificates with two individual national champions. Her teams finished runners-up at the indoor MIAC Championships seven times and at the outdoor MIAC Championships five more.
Beyond St. Olaf, she facilitated the Minnesota State High School Championships’ move to St. Olaf’s campus, has served as the meet director for several championship events (1982 AIAW track & field championships; 2002 and 2007 NCAA cross country championships) and has been a pioneer in water training as a distance and middle-distance clinician around the region.
She was inducted into St. Olaf’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 2013 alongside her daughter Megan, who ran for her both in cross country and track & field.
Daymont is an associate professor in the exercise science department at St. Olaf, specializing in exercise physiology.