Ryan Nunez enters his second season as the head cross country coach for the University of California Merced Bobcats. In his first year he was able to reach not only a milestone for the team, but also for UC Merced Athletics, when Sofia Rios captured the Cal Pac Conference Individual Championship. It was the first championship, team or individual, in UC Merced history.
Nunez, a graduate of Notre Dame de Namur, came to Merced after volunteer, assistant, and associate coaching jobs at his alma mater. He graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Kinesiology-Exercise Sport Science in Spring of 2012.
While a student at NDNU he was named PacWest Runner of the Week several times and team MVP in the Fall of 2010.
Still actively competing, Nunez recently set a PR in the 8k with a time of 25:56.
Prior to college, Nunez attended Sunnyside High School in Fresno where he set records in the two-mile and 1600.
Nneoma Nze went to high school at King Drew Magnet of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles proper where she was part of Student Run LA the last two year of high school.
In her junior year at UC Merced, Nneoma joined the cross country team.
Nze ran for two years before graduatin and becoming an assistant coach for the team. She says she was hired for her strong leadership qualities she displayed during her time as a team member.
Nneoma says her passion for the sport of cross country runs deep, and that's what led her to become an assistant coach.
"I have a deep passion for cross country as a sport, and a desire to do whatever is necessary to empower and support members of UC Merced’s women’s and men’s cross country teams towards our shared goal of winning NAIA cross-country championships and moving onto NAIA cross-country nationals as a collective team."
Nneoma graduated from UC Merced with a B.A. in Psychology.
Jeff Porto Jr. enters his fourth season as the Assistant Men's and Women's Cross Country Coach at UC Merced.
The Cal Poly graduate looks forward to continuing to bring his experience at the NCAA level to UC Merced to help build a strong distance program. He graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in History and a master's in Public Policy.
Porto competed in four seasons of cross country and three in track at Cal Poly as a walk-on in both sports. He continued to improve each year and had a breakout season as a senior, in 2004, where he was consistently a top-five scorer for the Mustangs, who were ranked as high as No. 6 in the nation and finished 10th at the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships. That same year, Porto was all-region at the NCAA D-I West Region Championships, All-Conference at the Big West Cross Country Championships and helped lead Cal Poly to its fifth conference title in seven years. He also ran a career best 24 minutes and 23 seconds in the 8,000 meters at the Stanford Invitational, when the course still had hills.
In the 2004 track season, as a junior, Porto won the 10,000 meters at the Big West Conference Championships with a career best of 30:36. He also placed seventh in the 5,000 meters the next day, scoring 12 points to help Cal Poly to a second-place finish in the conference. During his career at Cal Poly, Porto also earned Big West Conference All-Academic honors five times and was a two-time Mary Stuart Rogers Scholarship recipient.
Porto grew up in the small town of Grayson in Stanislaus County and graduated from Modesto High School in the International Baccalaureate program. He lettered in cross country and track all four years and won two Central California Conference titles — one in cross country and one in the 3,200 meters in track. He also led Modesto to its first ever team appearance at the CIF cross country state meet.
Porto is also the Director of Development, Student Affairs and Athletics at UC Merced.