Coach Curtis Vais begins his 16th season as the NIACC men's and women's cross country teams.
Vais started NIACC's cross country program in 2004 and it continues to make giant strides on the national scene.
The NIACC men's cross country team placed in the top 20 at the national meet for 10 straight seasons from 2008-2017, including top 10 finishes in 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2016.
The NIACC women placed 13th in 2013 and 2014, the highest finish for the Lady Trojans. Hannah Palmeter placed 6th in 2013 (2nd team all-American) and placed 3rd in 2014 (1st team all-American).
In 2012, the NIACC men's cross country team placed fifth at the NJCAA championships. Sophomores Trent Smith and Jonny Worley were named U.S. Citizen All-Americans. The Trojans won the Region XI title for the second straight season and Vais was selected as the men's Region XI coach of the year for the second straight year. The Lady Trojans placed 24th at the NJCAA championships.
In 2011, the NIACC men placed fourth at the NJCAA championships as Smith placed 11th earning honorable mention All-American honors. The NIACC women placed 15th. Anna Buenneke placed second individually in the women's race earning first-team All-American honors.
The men's team also won its first NJCAA Region XI title in 2011 by sweeping the top-seven spots and Buenneke won the women's individual title. Buenneke and Cody Manchester were given Region XI runner of the year honors, and Vais was awarded Region XI men's coach of the year honors for the second consecutive season.
Vais was the Region XI women's coach of the year in 2010.
Vais has coached 140 NJCAA All-Region XI Honorees, 7 NJCAA All-Americans, 10 U.S. Citizen All-Americans, 6 USTFCCCA all-Americans and 4 NJCAA Region XI runners of the years.
Before arriving in Mason City, Vais was an assistant coach at College of Dupage, helping the women's track team to the NJCAA Division III National title while helping the men's team place second.
Vais was a three-time NAIA national qualifier while at Mount St. Clare (now Ashford University) in Clinton, Iowa. He competes in marathons and other road races while raising his sons, Jacob and Miles.