Peter Farrell is in his 38th season as the head coach of women’s cross country and track & field teams at Princeton in 2015-16. He is only head women’s track and field and cross country coach since the program went from club sport to varsity status in 1978 and is the only Princeton coach who has led a varsity team since its inception.
While overseeing the entire program, Farrell works closely with the distance runners. He leads the cross country team and coaches runners in the 800 to 10,000 meters during the track and field season.
The unanimous Ivy League Coach of the Year in cross country in 2015 was evidenced with Princeton's win in the Heptagonal championship as Lizzie Bird won the individual race, the seventh Tiger to win the individual race and second straight. The Tigers took third at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional, as the host, going 1-2 with Emily de La Bruyere taking second and Bird third. Ranking as high as No. 20 during the season, the Tigers earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Championships. The squad led by Bird finished 21st, while de La Bruyere did not compete due to her Rhodes Scholar interview.
The program's first NCAA champion came in 2014 when Julia Ratcliffe ('16) won the hammer throw. She was the nation's leader all season and had an undefeated year with wins at Heps, ECACs and Penn Relays. Ratcliffe collected a number of records along the way including the New Zealand national record, and the Ivy and school records. Ratcliffe earned a number of honors including Regional Athlete of the Year, Scholar-Athlete of the Year and was a semifinalist for The Bowerman Trophy. In the summer of 2014 she earned a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games. Ratcliffe was the NCAA runner-up in the event in 2015.
Under Farrell, Princeton has developed into one of the most successful programs in the East. On the conference level, the 2008 and 2011 USTFCCCA Mid-Atlantic Region Indoor Coach of the Year, has led the Tigers to 27 Ivy League Heptagonal titles in his tenure, including 11 in the last seven seasons. Farrell guided the team to an Ivy League triple crown in 2010-11 as Princeton became just the 10th school in history win sweep all six titles (men's and women's) in a single academic year.
In recent years, the cross country program has become a regional and national power under Farrell’s watch. The squad has posted back-to-back fifth-place finishes at the NCAA Championships in 2008 and 2009. In fact, the Tigers have finished among the top 15 teams at the NCAA championship meet six times in the last 12 years.
Princeton won the individual Heps championship in four years straight from 2007-10, with Liz Costello '10 winning in 2007, 2008 and 2009 and Alex Banfich '12 winning in 2010. Megan Curham '18 and Lizzie Bird '17 became back-to-back winners in 2014 and 2015.
The 2009 and 2008 seasons were the programs' best seasons as the Tigers were near the top of the national rankings every week. With consecutive fifth-place finishes at the NCAA Championship, the Tigers are on a run of making seven straight appearances in the final meet of the season. A key highlight to the 2009 season was a perfect finish at Heps. The team went 1-2-3-4-5 for a perfect score, never done before in Ivy League history. Three years ago in 2007, the team won every meet it entered before the national championship race.
The cross country team won a span of five Ivy League Heptagonal titles from 2006-2010 and has won nine titles overall. They've won the Mid-Atlantic Regionals four times in a five-year span and was runner-up in 2009 to the eventual national champion Villanova. Farrell got the Tigers on the right path in 2006 when the squad won Heps for the first time in 1980 and for his efforts he was named the Mid-Atlantic Region Coach of the Year.
During the winter, Farrell has guided the indoor track & field team to nine Ivy League titles (1981, '82, '83, '89, '97, '98, '08, '10, '11), including wins in the last two seasons. In the spring, Farrell has earned nine more Ivy League crowns (1979, ’80, ’81, ’82, ’83, ’89, ’98 '09, '11).
Under Farrell’s tutelage the track & field team has produced more than 20 All-America athletes that has represented Princeton on a national level.
Both Kristin Beaney (’94) and Emily Kroshus (‘04) earned All-America honors three times during a single academic year. Kroshus also went to the NCAA Championships all four years and was the first individual runner from Princeton to win the Cross Country Heptagonal. During the outdoor season, Kroshus was named the Female Athlete of the Meet at Heptagonals. Alex Banfich ('12) racked up four All-America honors at Princeton. She earned two in cross country in 2010 and 2011 and two in the outdoor 5k. Banfich recorded the best finish by a Tiger at the NCAA cross country championship, cruising across the line in fifth place in 2011. Megan Curham ('17) became the first freshman in program history to earn All-America honors. She led the harriers throughout the 2013 season to place 34th at the NCAA Championships, as the team earned an at-large bid. Curham did even better in 2014 finishing 18th and went on add All-America honors indoor and outdoor to bring her total to five (two in cross country, one indoor, two outdoor).
Lynn Jennings (’83) was a three-time All-America in her Princeton career. Jennings went on to become one of America’s premier distance runners, earning a bronze medal at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.
Another three-time All-America Liz Costello (’10) is just the second harrier in Ivy League history to win the cross country Heptagonal three times. She was an All-America twice in cross country and in the DMR in indoor track.
Ashley Higginson (’11) is the latest Princeton track athlete that came close to winning the national title, as she leaves Old Nassau with three All-America honors. She finished third in the steeplechase in 2010, sixth in 2011 and was fifth in the indoor 3k in 2011. Higginson most recently won the 2015 Pan America Games steeplechase.
Cack Ferrell (’06) a six-time All-America earned three nods in cross country and three in indoor track & field. She was also named the indoor Heptagonals Female Athlete of the Meet in 2004 as a sophomore and shared the honor again in 2006.
Lauren Simmons (’02) finished second at the 2002 NCAA outdoor championships in the 800 meters, earning All-America status.
In 2012, Greta Feldman ('12) finished fifth at the 2012 NCAA outdoor championship in the 1500, while posting a program record in the semifinals of 4:12.73, the second-best time in the Ivy League. Her time qualified her for the 2012 Olympic Trials. Also competing at the Olympic Trials are Liz Costello '10, Ashley Higginson '11 and Carrie Dimoff '06. Feldman followed up with a second-team All-America finish in the 1500 in 2013, finishing 13th.
Nicole Harrison (’98) won three different Heps events and went on to be named New Jersey’s Athlete of the Year by the U.S. Track & Field Association.
Farrell served as a coach for the victorious East team at the 1991 U.S. Olympic Festival in Minneapolis, Minn. In the summer of 1993 he coached the East team at the Olympic Festival in San Antonio.
Before coming to Princeton in 1977, Farrell established the women’s track program at Christ the King High School in Middle Village, N.Y. During his four years there, he led Christ the King to several championships, including the AAU Eastern regional cross country title.
A 1968 graduate of the University of Notre Dame, Farrell was a two-time All-America in the 800 meters for the Irish. He and his wife Shane have two daughters, Virginia '13 and Susan '17. The Farrells reside in Princeton.
|By the Numbers|
|12 - Cross Country|
|Beaney, Ferrell-3, Kroshus, Johnson, Costello-2, Banfich-2, Curham-2|
|13 - Indoor|
|3- 3k (Ferrell-2, Higginson)|
|6 - 5k (Beaney, Kroshus, Curham)|
|4 - DMR (1)|
|29 - Outdoor|
|2- 3k (Jennings, Cattivera)|
|4- 5k (McCandless, Beaney, Banfich-2)|
|5- 10k (Kroshus, Van Leuven, Cummings, Curham-2)|
|4- 4x400 (1)|
|1- 400 Hurdles (Anderson)|
|1- Shot Put (St. Phard)|
|2- 800 (Simmons, Barowski)|
|1- Pole Vault (Canino)|
|3- Steeplechase (Higginson-2, Bird)|
|2- 1500 (Feldman-2)|
|3- Hammer (Ratcliffe-3)|
|1- Triple Jump (Oliver)|
|27||Ivy League Team Titles|
|Cross Country (9)|
|Indoor Track & Field (9)|
|Outdoor Track & Field (9)|
|182||Ivy League Champions including Relays|
|Cross Country (9)|
|2||USTFCCCA Coach of the Year Honors|
|MidAtlantic Indoor Coach of the Year (2008, 2011)|
|Alma Mater:||Notre Dame|