Spencer Castro is entering his second season as the head men's and women's cross country coach at UC Merced.
The 2011 Stanford University graduate developed his interest in coaching as a counselor at Stanford's Nike Camp of Champions, while running for Stanford cross country and track and field teams. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in Science, Technology and Society.
In 2011, as a senior, Castro contributed to Stanford's Mountain Pacific Sports Federation indoor track and field championship with a fifth-place finish on the anchor leg of the 1,600-meter relay. He also helped the Cardinal to a fourth consecutive win over rival California at the Big Meet with a third-place finish in the 800, and he helped the 1,600 relay team place 22nd during Stanford's sixth-place finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
In 2010, Castro participated in a cross country season that led to a Pac-10 cross country championship for the Cardinal, but he competed in only one race during the track season due to injury.
Castro placed 13th in the 800 at the 2009 MPSF Indoor Championships with a career-best run of 1 minute, 52.77 seconds. As a freshman, he finished 26th at the MPSF Championships in the 400, ran a collegiate-best time of 49.40 seconds in the 400 at the University of Washington Invitational, and ran season outdoor bests in the 200 (22.86) and the 400 (50.69) at the Davis quad meet.
While at Sonora Union High School, Castro helped capture the 2005 Sac-Joaquin Section team title, then took the 2006 section titles in the 800, 1,600 and 1,600 relay. He also helped Sonora to second place in the 2006 cross country section meet and was named Athlete of the Meet at the Gold Rush Elite Invitational that same year.
Castro is a native of the Yosemite foothills, northeast of Merced. He is also a research associate, conducting interdisciplinary research with faculty in the Cognitive and Information Sciences program in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts, with an eye on graduate school in the future.
Jeff Porto Jr. is in his second season as the assistant men's and women's cross country coach at UC Merced.
The Cal Poly graduate looks forward to bringing his experience at the NCAA level to UC Merced to 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, 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 an analyst in the offices of the Vice Chancellor for University Relations and Governmental Relations.
Porto is also the Director of Development, Student Affairs and Athletics at UC Merced.