Lou Snelling enters his seventh year with the Stephen F. Austin track and field and cross country programs. In his first six years with the program, his athletes have achieved as much as any distance program in the Southland Conference and are building a tradition to rival that of some of the perennial powers in the South Central Region.
In the last six years, the SFA distance corps. have contributed 28 individual Southland Conference championships, 94 All-SLC finishes and 164 scoring performances at the SLC track and field championships. On a team level, SFA has captured four SLC cross country titles and five conference championships in track and field during Snelling's tenure.
The Lumberjack and Ladyjack distance squads have combined for eight NCAA Championship qualifying performances and 13 all-region showings at the NCAA South Central Regional Championships. In all, Snelling's athletes have earned five SLC Cross Country Athlete of the Year awards, four SLC Outstanding Track Performer honors, one SLC Track and Field Athlete of the Year, five SLC Freshman of the Year selections, and three SLC Student Athlete of the Year honors.
In all, 22 school records in distance events have been broken on Snelling's watch. The coach has also guided his troops to some impressive new territory in terms of team accomplishments. The first such achievement came in 2003, Snelling's first year on the job, when the Ladyjacks won the SLC Cross Country team championship and posted the lowest team score in program history with 42 points.
Just a couple of weeks later the men's team performed a similar feat when the Lumberjacks finished third at the regional meet. It was the squad's best finish ever and lowest NCAA regional score, led by Michael Thompson's school-best fourth-place performance. Thompson's run qualified him for the NCAA Cross Country Championships, making him the first athlete in school history to achieve that distinction. He finished 37th in the race.
The following year, Ashley Monteau, who would go on to finish her career as one of the most decorated athletes in SFA history, earned the program's first female qualification to the NCAA Championships. She finished 75th in the race and made a return trip the following year, making her the only two-time national championship qualifier in SFA cross country history. Monteau was a four-time all-region performer in cross country and reached the NCAA Regional Track and Field Championships in 2006.
When SFA swept the men's and women's titles at the 2005 SLC Indoor Championships, one of Snelling's distance athletes took center stage. Julian Acuna won both the 3,000 and 5,000 meters and finished as the meet's top scorer with 20 points. He was named the Male Outstanding Track Performer and took Athlete of the Year honors for his efforts.
The 2005 cross country season brought an unprecedented fifth consecutive team championship for the Lumberjacks and another school record. SFA placed all five of its scoring runners, including individual champion Cody Clark, inside the top 10 for the first time in school history, yielding a record-low score of 28 points. At the regional meet a few weeks later, the women's team turned in a program-best fifth-place finish, headlined by Monteau's No. 4 overall showing.
During this impressive three-year stretch, Ana Rodriguez qualified for the NCAA Track and Field Championships in the 5,000 meters in three consecutive years (2003-2005). She is one of only four women in the country to have achieved that honor in the 5,000 during that time span. Rodriguez is still the Southland Conference record-holder in the 10,000 meters, with a time of 34:35.38.
Snelling himself has been honored on multiple occasions. He was named the SLC Men's Cross Country Coach of the Year in 2003, 2004 and 2005, and picked up the Women's Coach of the Year award in 2003, when his teams swept the SLC Championships.
Before joining the SFA staff, Snelling spent the previous three years as a volunteer assistant coach for the nationally ranked Indiana men's track and cross country programs. While with the Hoosiers, Snelling was in charge of preparing practice and competition schedules for incoming freshmen, as well as facilitating the day-to-day responsibilities of the Indiana cross country and tack programs. He also spent time as the Hoosiers' recruiting coordinator.
In 2002-03, Snelling assisted with an IU cross country program that produced two All-Big 10 runners and recorded a top-20 national ranking. Snelling also helped develop 2003 indoor All-American John Jefferson, who was the NCAA runner-up in the mile. The IU track and field team finished among the nation's top 10 during the indoor season. The outdoor season brought more accolades, as two runners earned all-conference honors and three athletes competed at the NCAA Championships and the USA Track and Field National Championships.
Snelling earned his master's degree from IU in 2003. He received a bachelor's degree from Central Florida in 2000. While at UCF, Snelling was a highly decorated student-athlete. He was a four-year letterwinner, earning all-conference or academic all-conference honors all four seasons.
Snelling is married to the former April Vitori. The couple gave birth to their first child, Louis Raymond Snelling VI, in January.