Petersen joins Aggies as head cross country coach

July 2, 2018

DAVIS, Calif. - A former graduate assistant at Florida State and most recently an assistant at Pepperdine, Emma Petersen assumes the helm as UC Davis’ newest head cross country coach, announced Director of Cross Country & Track and Field Rahn Sheffield.

Petersen will head the Aggies’ two cross country teams and assist Sheffield during the winter and spring as the distance coach for the women’s indoor track & field program plus the outdoor track & field teams. She will also assist with recruiting efforts for each of those five sports. Her appointment takes effect on July 9.

“I am beyond excited to join the UC Davis Aggie family,” Petersen said. “I know what an amazing university and community I will be joining, and I’m looking forward to working with the exceptional student-athletes that UC Davis attracts. I would like to thank Coach Sheffield and the athletics department for giving me this opportunity and believing in my vision to return UC Davis cross country back to the championship level. I cannot wait to get on campus, meet the current team and get to work on creating of culture of success.”

Formerly Emma Reed, Petersen served one season with the Waves under the direction of veteran mentor Robert Radnoti. During that short stint, Pepperdine enjoyed its first All-West Coast Conference honoree in a decade, thanks to junior Nick Heath’s 15th-place finish at the conference championship. Petersen previously worked with Florida State’s distance runners from 2015-17 while earning her master’s degree in sports management. The Seminoles finished in a tie for 19th place at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in her final season in Tallahassee. 

Originally from Bristol, England, Petersen also coached at Eastbourne College (2014-15) and the Bristol & West Athletic Club (2012-13) after her graduation from the University of New Mexico. She earned a postgraduate certificate in education from West of England during that span.

“Emma is a very enthusiastic coach who will really bring a high level of energy to our program,” said Sheffield. “This is her first time as a head coach, so it’s a good beginning for her. UC Davis is about providing opportunities to individuals who strive to be better. And being a former distance runner, she sees things from the inside out. Her experience will better connect with our student-athletes.”

As a collegian, Petersen first competed at Boston University, where she helped her team finish second at the America East Conference cross country meet. She also contributed team points at the AEC indoor and outdoor track championships in 2008. Petersen then transferred to UNM, helping the Lobos to three Mountain West Conference titles and an 18th-place showing at the NCAA cross country meet. She also placed seventh in the steeplechase at the 2011 MWC championships. 

In the classroom, Petersen earned a pair of MWC Academic All-Conference nods, served on the school’s Student-Athlete Advisory Council, and represented the institution at the NCAA Leadership Conference. She graduated from New Mexico with degrees in geography and economics in 2012. 

ABOUT UC DAVIS: Providing a small-town community feel while providing a world-class academic experience, UC Davis is home to more than 37,000 students and centrally located between San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, and the Napa Valley. The No. 6-ranked public university in the nation according to the Wall Street Journal, and among the top 10 public universities nationwide according to U.S. News and World Report, UC Davis offers nearly 100 graduate programs and more than 100 academic majors across four colleges and six professional schools, ranking among the world and nation’s best in numerous disciplines, including veterinary science, agriculture, and plant and animal programs.

AGGIE EVO: Established in 2017-18, the Aggie EVO System is UC Davis Athletics’ investment in the primary mission of preparing student-athletes for a successful “launch” after graduation. Thanks to a collaboration of alumni, university resources, corporate partners, coaches and Student-Athlete Outcomes staff, all Aggies are guided over four years to acquire the skills, knowledge, opportunities and tools to better know and navigate the “World of Work” after graduating from UC Davis. Follow the Aggie EVO system on Twitter and Instagram at @AggieEVO.