Atlantic Region Coach of the Year
Women's Outdoor: 2017
SUNYAC Coach of the Year
Men's Indoor: 2017
Women's Indoor: 2017
Women's Outdoor: 2015, 2017
Chris Popovici ’06 enters his third season as head men’s and women’s track & field coach and assistant men's and women's cross country coach at his alma mater for the 2016-17 season, having already coached the Knights to 15 All-American certificates.
In 2015-2016, Popovici led the Knights to unprecedented success, including one National Championship, two second place finishes, and three third place finishes at the NCAA Championships. Jacqueline Huben became a National Champion in the 3,000m steeplechase, while Alexa Wandy finished second nationally in both the indoor and outdoor triple jump. Isaac Garcia-Cassani finished third in the indoor mile and outdoor 1,500m while also anchoring a distance medley relay to third place at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
In 2014-15, Popovici guided the women's team to the program's first SUNYAC Outdoor title since 2010. He also coached four athletes to the NCAA Outdoor Championships, two of which became All-Americans. Wandy captured third place in the triple jump with a final jump of 12.47 meters while Huben finished the 3,000-meter steeple in a time of 10:41.89 to take fifth.
Popovici coached first-year Garcia-Cassani to an All-America third-place showing in the mile at the NCAA Indoor Championships. The Geneseo women finished runner-up at the SUNYAC Indoor Championships, led by first-place performances by Keira Wood (mile) and Joanna Castrogivanni (5,000).
Prior to taking over at Geneseo, Popovici spent three years at SUNY Oneonta as an assistant coach for the Red Dragon cross country and track & field programs as well as a lecturer in the Department of Health and Fitness.
During his time in Oneonta, Popovici was part of a coaching staff that led the men’s track & field program to its first-ever SUNYAC Outdoor Championship, winning the 2014 title last month before also running to the first Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III Championship two weeks later. Popovici was also part of the men’s team’s first-ever SUNYAC Indoor Championship in 2013, and has coached a total of 28 SUNYAC and 11 ECAC individual qualifiers while with the program. In 2013, the Red Dragon women’s cross country team qualified for the NCAA Championships for the first time in program history and saw Danielle Kennedy finish 19th to be named the first All-American in team history.
As a full-time lecturer in both the Health and Fitness and Sports Management programs at Oneonta, Popovici was responsible for the departmental curricular development while also working as the internship coordinator and associate department chair. He taught courses including kinesiology, sport psychology and exercise psychology. He also served as the strength and conditioning coach for the men’s soccer team for two years.
Prior to Oneonta, Chris spent two years as an assistant coach for the cross country and track & field teams at Cortland. During the 2010-11 season, he coached 10 ECAC-qualifying performances and four SUNYAC place-winners, including Cody Amengual who set a SUNYAC Outdoor meet record in the 800 (1:53.25). Also serving as a graduate assistant in the kinesiology department, he went on to earn a master’s degree in kinesiology in 2011, specializing in exercise physiology.
In 2010, Popovici was named director of the Syracuse Chargers Track Club’s Elite Development Group. He has overseen a USA Track & Field (USATF) men’s team 5,000-meter champion and a regional 5,000-meter men’s team champion, as well as eight club records in the sprints, throws and distance events. Twelve athletes from the club have qualified for the USATF National Track and Field Championships since 2011, including Nick Guarino who finished ninth in the 800 meters at the 2014 USATF Indoor Championships and also clocked the 12th-fastest time 1,000-meter time in the world (2:20.32) during the 2013 indoor season. Under Popovici’s watch, Guarino and his brother, Josh, have registered personal-bests of 1:47.13 and 1:47.35, respectively, in the 800 meters. Club member Sean Bernstein also won a pair of gold medals in the 100 and 200 meters at the 2013 Maccibiah International Games in Israel.
Popovici is a National Strength and Conditioning Association certified specialist and holds a USATF Level II certification in the sprints, hurdles and relays. He also recently completed the USATF Level III/IAAF Level V Endurance Elite Coaching Academy curriculum.
A native of nearby Pittsford, N.Y., Popovici started his coaching career at his high school alma mater, Pittsford-Sutherland, from 2006-2009.
Popovici graduated from Geneseo in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in communication. A middle distance standout during his four years in the program, Popovici won the 500 during the 2004 SUNYAC Indoor Championships, and also finished third in the 800 on two occasions at the SUNYAC Outdoor Championships. Popovici continues to compete with the Syracuse Chargers Track Club, owning lifetime-bests of 1:52.51 in the 800, 2:29.47 in the 1,000 and 3:57.98 in the 1,500.