In her six seasons at the helm, head coach Cassandra Goodson has taken the FGCU men’s and women’s cross country teams from their humble beginnings to a competitive D-I program. Highlighted by two finishes in the top half of the Atlantic Sun Conference and three trips to NCAA Southeast Regional Championships Goodson’s leadership has taken the Green and Blue to the next level.
The success of the program under Goodson's direction is evident with a glance at the Eagles’ all-time record book, as the top 10 all-time marks for women’s 5K and 6K and men’s 5K, 8K and 10K were established by runners from the Goodson era.
During the 2013 season Goodson led the men’s team to five top-five finishes, a first-place finish at the Westminster Academy Invite, wins over Miami, LSU and Vanderbilt, a fourth-place finish at conference championships and the program’s second trip to NCAA Southeast Regional Championships. The women also placed first at the Westminster Academy Invite and finished two meets in the top-five. A total 36 personal-bests and 20 individual top-10 finishes were recorded this season.
Under Goodson’s training seniors Argeo Cruz and Kelly Perzanowski ended 2013 solidifying their titles as the most prolific runners in FGCU history. Finishing first in three races this season, including the A-Sun Championship race, Perzanowski was named the Atlantic Sun Conference Female Runner of the Year, named to the NCAA South All-Region Team and the Atlantic Sun Conference First Team. She reset the FGCU all-time record in both the women’s 5k and 6k, twice. Cruz was named to the NCAA South All-Region Team and to the Atlantic Sun Conference First Team while resetting the FGCU all-time record in the both the men’s 8k and 10k. Together Cruz and Perzanowski own every school record, all of which were posted during the 2013 season, as well as 44 of the top 60 times. Both Cruz and Perzanowski left FGCU running faster than when they entered as freshmen. After four years with Goodson Perzanowski’s personal best 5k time improved from an 18:36 to a 17:21, while Cruz went from a 15:36 to a 14:49.
In 2012, Goodson guided the men to five top-five finishes, a program-best fourth place finish at conference championships and the team’s first trip to NCAA Southeast Regionals. On Oct. 29th the men were ranked 14th in the South Region poll conducted by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association and ended the season listed third in the rankings of NCAA D-I cross country only schools. The women saw a similar success finishing in the top five four times and sending a pair to NCAA Regionals. Cruz, Perzanowski and Barrie Cohen continued to break records and prove the program’s ability to compete on a higher level.
During the 2011 campaign Goodson led the men’s team to three top-five finishes, including a season-opening first place finish at the FGCU Invitational, and top 10 finishes in all six competitions. The women’s team saw equal success under her guidance, with top 10 finishes in every meet and three top five finishes. Four women’s runners established new personal-best 5K times, while nine men’s runners set new personal-bests in 8K events this season. Supplying top finishes for the Eagles all season, sophomore Argeo Cruz and junior Barrie Cohen each earned the programs’ first-ever Atlantic Sun Runner of Week awards after their performances at the Walt Disney World Classic, running to season-best times at the event. At the A-Sun Conference Championship the Green and Blue ran to a seventh place finish in the women’s 5K while the men took eighth overall in the 8K race. Additionally, Goodson coached a pair of men’s and women’s runners at the NCAA South Regional in Tuscaloosa, Ala. in the Eagles’ first year of eligibility.
In her first three seasons with the Green and Blue, Goodson was constantly moving forward while achieving a slew of program firsts including three overall meet wins and three members named to the A-Sun All-Freshmen teams. Her athletes continually broke program records and posted personal bests. In her inaugural season Goodson paced Megan Thies to a new program record and Kyle Brunette to improve his personal record by almost two minutes.
Goodson joined FGCU from the University of Southern Mississippi where she served as the head cross country and assistant track and field coach from 2006-2008. In here two year at Southern Miss Goodson’s coaching efforts produced three track and field program records and an NCAA Regional Qualifier. Under Goodson’s direction former Southern Miss track athlete Vincent Tanui improved his 5000m time from a 14:58 to a 14:11 qualifying for NCAA Regionals.
Prior to coaching at Southern Miss, Goodson competed professionally throughout the United States in sanctioned USA Track and Field road races. Goodson was a two-year letterwinner with the cross country and track & field programs for the Golden Eagles. She owns two school indoor records in the running events - the 3,000 meter with a time of 10:16.55 and the 5,000 meter with a time of 17:52.65. She also holds the school record in the outdoor 5,000 meters with a time of 17:31.81 and the 10,000 meters with a time of 37:01.65.
Goodson helped the Southern Miss team to a second-place finish in 2005 with two fourth-place finishes in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters.
Goodson competed in track and field and cross country for two seasons at Diablo Valley College in Concord, Calif., where she was the most valuable member of her cross country team. She was the NorCal 10,000-meter champion and finished fifth in the state in the same event. She was a four-year letterwinner at Chaminade College Prep, where she was an All-Conference selection for four years.
The Chatsworth, Calif., native received her bachelor's degree in psychology from Southern Miss in 2005 and is the daughter of James and of the late Marina Goodson.