Ed Woge was the first coach of the varsity women’s cross country team and guided the program to an NCAA championship in 1985. During his decade-long tenure as head coach (1978–87), he developed four All-American runners and led his team to five straight Middle Atlantic Conference titles (1982–86) as well as four consecutive Mideast Regional championships
When the magical ’85 season arrived, success was not unexpected. The Diplomats had not lost a dual meet to
a Division III team since October 1982
and had reached nationals the three previous years, finishing eighth, fourth
and fourth, respectively.
They had a seasoned team led by senior Lois Lucente, an All-America selection the year before, and they performed up to expectations, winning the MAC meet by a staggering 83 points and the regional by 49, the latter at Allentown College in “the worst weather conditions we have ever encountered,” Woge wrote in the postseason synopsis.
It was cold and windy, he noted, and the runners from 12 schools competed in freezing rain and sleet.
“Over half the course was mud-covered and slippery,” he wrote.
Yet Lucente, Amanda Shaw and Terri Smith swept the top three spots, and Nancy Leet finished fifth. Laurie Reynolds was 12th and Katrina Harriman was 17th.
At nationals in Atlanta, Lucente again led the way, finishing fourth with a time of 18 minutes, 59 seconds, to earn All-America honors for the second straight season. Shaw (19:11) and Smith (19:52) were also named All-Americans, after finishing seventh and 30th, respectively.
Harriman (20:06) was 38th, while Reynolds (20:14) was 58th and
sophomore Dee Dee Hemingway
placed 55th, in 20:28.
The Diplomats finished with 73 points, defeating second-place St. Thomas by eight. It was F&M’s first national title since the men’s soccer team won in 1952.
“The team ran really well,” Woge said at the time, “just how the best team in the country should run… A team’s a team and we performed as one, not as individuals.”
He reiterated that point in his postseason summary and added that it was “the hardest-working and (most) dedicated team I have ever worked with. The way they shared and believed in themselves is one of the major reasons for their excellent season.”
Upon landing at Lancaster Airport, the team was greeted by school president Dr. James Powell, athletic director Dr. William Marshall and a crowd of 40 well-wishers. Only then, Lucente told the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal, did the enormity of their accomplishment hit them.
She credited their closeness as a team for their success—“We’re all the best of friends,” she told the newspaper—in addition to Woge’s leadership.
“He’s flexible, yet he knows exactly what he’s doing,” she said. “He taught us to believe in ourselves.”
The program began as a club sport in 1977, and under Woge it took on varsity status the following year. They made swift progress, finishing second at the MAC meet, as well as at regionals, in 1981. One year later, they won the league, finished second in regionals and were eighth in nationals, as Denise Paul was accorded All-America status for the second of three consecutive years.
The 1983 team featured 17 runners, F&M’s largest squad to that point. The Diplomats continued their string of league championships and won the first of four straight regional crowns as well. Then Paul ran a blistering 17:09 to place ninth in the national meet at Newport News, Va., pacing F&M to a fourth-place finish among the 12 teams entered.
“We had a super season,” Woge said, “and I’m pleased with the way we ran, especially at nationals, where everyone performed more than adequately.”
That continued through the 1986 season, when the Diplomats finished ninth at the NCAA meet after winning the league and nationals again.
Woge stepped down after the
Among his favorite memories at F&M, Woge says he is most proud of the four All-Americans, five MAC Championships, three Mideast Championships and, of course, the national champions.
Woge resides in Lancaster. He is the father of two sons, Adam and Matthew, and a proud grandfather to Addison, Colin